As deployment of Project 25 systems gathers momentum, operators, and maintenance personnel are beginning to focus considerable attention toward determining the implications of the migration from analog to a combination analog/digital test paradigm for their support and maintenance programs.
Part I and Part II of this paper detail the technical background of the Project 25 standard, while Part III and IV highlight the particular impact of the standard on testing professionals.
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Part II: Focus on U.S. Standards Development
In the examination of their current and future needs, public safety communications agencies identified several factors that pointed to the need to develop advanced digital two-way communications to replace aging and spectrally inefficient analog systems.
The growing scarcity of available radio spectrum
Better voice quality over greater areas
The growing demand for the integration of new, bandwidth intensive, data functions
The Project 25 initiative, has brought together a wide array of local, state, and government agencies with support from the U.S. Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) to evaluate and develop a new standard for digital two-way radio.
Co-chaired by APCO International and the National Association of State Telecommunications Directors (NASTD), a steering committee was given the job of evaluating the plethora of technologies. Several sub-committees, in-turn, provide the technical expertise to research a number of specialized areas. Aeroflex, through its association with the Telecommunications Industrial Association, has been a key contributor to researching and defining testing parameters for the new standard.
The principle guiding the work of the steering committee was to establish an open narrowband digital radio standard so that multiple vendors could compete for contracts to supply compliant networks with interoperable products. Secondary principles include achieving maximum radio spectrum efficiency and simplifying P25 equipment.
The final documents establishing the Project 25 Standard were signed in Aug. 1995. The basic characteristics of Project 25 radios are these:
The first true P25-compliant system is expected to be the state-wide P25 trunked system of the Michigan State Police.
AvComm Leverages P25 Standard Expertise To Develop a Project 25 Test Solution
A long-time provider of test solutions serving the SMR marketplace, Aeroflex had a great deal of interest and expertise to contribute toward developing a new SMR digital standard. Beginning in 1995, Aeroflex employees, through their membership in TIA’s TR8 Standards Committee, have been actively lending their expertise to several sub-committees working to develop the P25 standard.
It was through the exposure in the Project 25 development sub-committee that the platform that would later become the 2975 was born. Designed as a brand new platform, the core concept was to build a platform that could easily handle the phased implementation of the standard, as well as other testing requirements.P25 History
Click to see Project 25 Technical Diagrams
To build an understanding of how digital technology will change testing, it is useful to first contrast digital with analog testing philosophies. In analog wireless systems the information is conveyed by modulation in the form of AM or FM, which changes the amplitude or frequency of a carrier signal in a linear way.
In a digital system, the analog signal representing the voice is passed to a vocoder, which converts the voice signal to a digital data stream using a defined algorithm. This algorithm varies from system to system, but results in a data stream in the order of 4-10kbytes/s being transmitted.
Analog Testing. Measurement technology for analog systems relies on the signal being present for sufficient time to make the measurement. In the case of the receiver SINAD this may be in the order of several seconds. The test equipment required ranges from power meters, modulation analyzers, audio analyzers, spectrum analyzers and signal generators.
When testing the transmitter of analog systems, five measurements are standard: 1) Power Output; 2) Transmitter Spurious; 3) Frequency; 4) Modulation; and 5) Distortion.
In receiver testing, we inject a low level carrier modulated in a manner appropriate to the demodulator under test, e.g. FM, at a known rate, say 1 kHz. We examine the audio output of the receiver in order to separate the original test tone (1 kHz) from any distortion and noise that the receiver added to the original test signal. We can equate the ratio of the two separated signals to some test threshold, and manipulate the receiver’s circuitry to optimize the ratio such that the distortion and noise portion is minimized.
Traditional test strategies have primarily focused on the parametric performance of the radio terminal, where measurements such as power, frequency, modulation and sensitivity are the primary indicators of performance. The open standard concept adopted for Project 25 introduces some new variables into the testing equation which relate to the interoperability of equipment sourced from different manufacturers supporting the standard.
Project 25, like its analog forebears, is an FDMA (Frequency Domain Multiple Access) system and it produces continuous signals when the radio is keyed. Therefore some of the more complex measurement techniques required for TDMA (Time Domain Multiple Access) systems such as TETRA are greatly simplified. Several key differences, however, distinguish the test required to determine system performance.
Digital Transmitter Testing.
A digital modulator imparts information to an assigned carrier by adjusting the carrier’s power, phase, or frequency, among a small dictionary of possibilities. Since there is no quantitative amount involved with digital modulation, no adjustments are generally required in the modulation path. Instead, it is usually sufficient to examine the quality of the modulation, or how good is the modulator at making its adjustments to the carrier. This is measured in percent, or some other quality score against a goal. When the goal is not met, one looks for a defective component that is causing the problem.
Digital Receiver Testing
Except for its decision circuit, digital receivers are remarkably similar to their analog cousins but they are tested in rather different ways. In the analog case, we find the SINAD procedure to be efficient, as it tests the whole receiver path in one pass.
Receiver sensitivity is determined by measuring its ability to recover data transmitted to it. The measurement referred to as receiver BER, or Bit Error Rate, measures the ratio of the bits received correctly as a percentage of the total bits transmitted. BER = 0.02 is an indication of a better receiver then one with BER = 0.2
Channel coding is a baseband process in most digital radio systems that deliberately adds carefully contrived redundancy to a symbol stream, which the receiver can use to repair a limited amount of damage to a recovered symbol stream. For those radios that protect all the user traffic with redundancy bits (which are also encoded into symbols), we loose the ability to detect individual bit errors. Instead, the frames or blocks of bits (symbols) that can not be repaired are marked, by the receiver itself as having suffered an error. FER = 0.10 is worse then FER = 0.00. The second result indicates no frames were received with uncorrected errors.
Increasingly, all of the baseband processes in digital radios are realized in software, and they either work, and work well; or they don’t work at all. It is not wise to spend valuable technician time verifying these functions.
The modulation selected for Project 25, Phase I is C4FM, which is modified four level Frequency Shift Keying (FSK), filtered with a raised cosine filter for minimizing inter-symbol interference. The modulation can be measured using conventional measuring techniques as long as standard test signals are used. These signals are designed to provide a data stream of all low deviation symbols or all high deviation symbols thus enabling the high + 1.8 kHz and low +0.6 kHz deviation to be measured. This is not practical on a working transmitter where the data content cannot be controlled without removing it from service; thus a new measurement technique has to be used. This requires that the transmitted signal is sampled and the data demodulated. The demodulated data is used to compute the instantaneous deviation from a "perfect" modulator. This deviation is then compared with the actual measured deviation value and a RMS Error Magnitude is calculated. This error is expressed as a % of 1kHz.
For the more complex systems such as that proposed for Project 25 Phase II, the data are represented by the instantaneous phase and amplitude of a vector. Measuring the fidelity of this type of modulation is much more difficult. One method takes a sample of the transmitted waveform over a large number of symbols (typically 100-200). From this information the demodulated data can be determined. This enables the test equipment to calculate the phase trajectory created by the data and then compare this with the sampled data. The errors in the measured data can then be determined and resolved into their various components.
The carrier frequency of the transmitter again can be easily measured if the transmitter is used in a conventional fm mode or using a test pattern. The Project 25 transmitters can be measured in this way. For more complex digital modulated signals such as those proposed for Project 25 II, the measurement of carrier frequency is more difficult, particularly when the system uses a bursting signal such as TETRA. Here the carrier frequency can be obtained from the same analysis that is used to determine the modulation accuracy. The carrier frequency offset from the required channel frequency results in a fixed phase error for all the symbol point measurements. This can be subtracted from the measured phase angles and used to calculate the frequency with knowledge of the symbol period. Transmitter frequency is also important during the key up process. Here excessive frequency error can interfere with other users.
The Sensitive Issue of Bit Error Rate Measurement.
Receiver sensitivity for digital systems is measured by determining the BER (Bit Error Rate) which is defined as the number of bits received in error expressed as a % of the total number of bits received. This measurement is not quite as simple as it sounds because it depends where in the radio system you choose to make the measurement. Of the total throughput of a Project 25 channel of 9600 bit/s, only 4400 bit/s are associated with the digital voice. The remaining 2800 bit/s are used for error correction on the voice signal and 2400 bits/s are devoted to signaling overhead. Thus, a key issue arises: Do you measure the errors before or after correction? Obviously it is the corrected performance which is important to the user because this determines the intelligibility of the speech. To overcome the uncertainty of this measurement a test signal has been defined with a known bit pattern. Comparing the received signal with the expected test signal enables a BER to be calculated. The nominal bit error rate for a Project 25 receiver is 5%. An alternative to the conventional BER is to use a pre-recorded speech pattern, which gives an audible indication of the receiver sensitivity. Because of the high amount of error correction used, the point at which it fails is quite abrupt and the sensitivity can be determined accurately.
Additional measurement such as Adjacent Channel Power and emission spectrum measurements are specified to ensure that Project 25 equipment does not interfere or degrade the performance of the coexistent analog channels. While these measurements are important to overall system integrity, they are unlikely to be required in the system maintenance environment and require performance levels that can only be obtained from specialized test equipment.
Working Together: How Interoperability Impacts Test.
Objective is to ensure terminals of different types and manufacturers operate correctly on the system.
While the open standard creates many benefits for the user in the long term (i.e. reduced equipment costs and greater customer choice) it does introduce another uncertainty. Will the equipment from different suppliers work together seamlessly?
The standardization process is designed to create a standard that defines all aspects of the system operation. It is inevitable however, that equipment suppliers will interpret the documents in differing ways. This may result in a terminal and repeater from different manufacturers not interoperating as expected. Additionally as new features become available on a system, and the equipment is updated, the need to re-assess interoperability may occur. This aspect of system test will gain in significance as more equipment manufacturers enter the Project 25 marketplace.
Two test strategies can be used to determine interoperability. The first method is to test each new equipment type with all of the existing equipment used in the network. It is obvious that not all of the terminal features on all of the user channels can be tested, as the testing time would escalate very rapidly. Even making some very basic interoperability tests, when the number of different units in a system is large produces a tremendous number of combinations to test. This approach does ensure the equipment interoperates but does not ensure adherence to the standard, nor does it necessarily indicate which equipment is non-compliant.
An alternative approach is to use a reference system or device against which all the equipment is checked. If it were practical to use only one reference system for all tests, then this system itself would become the standard. Typically a radio test set could be used as the reference, but this again is based on one manufacturer's interpretation of the standard. Also the number of functions that can be tested will be restricted by the reference system capability. This method significantly reduces the number of tests required although interoperability will only be inferred, not guaranteed.
ACP – Adjacent Channel Power
APCO International—Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials - International, Inc.
ARQ – Automatic Retry Request (to retry corrupted packets)
BER-Bit Error Rate
BR—Base Radio (A reference designating a base station)
C4FM—Compatible four-level frequency modulation
CAI- Common Air Interface
CQPSK – Compatible quadrature phase shift keying
CRC—Cyclic Redundancy Checksum (For data error detection)
DES – Data Encryption Standard
DiBit—Two bits grouped together to represent a four-level symbol
DPSK – Differential Phase-Shift Keying
ES—Encryption Synchronization (Information embedded in voice)
FDMA – Frequency Division Multiple Access
FS—Frame Synchronization (Marks the first information bit)
FSK—Frequency Shift Keying
Golay—A standard error correction code
Hex Bit—Six bits grouped together to represent a Reed-Solomon code symbol
IMBE vocoder -- Improved Multiband Excitation vocoder, providing 4400 bits/s of digitized voice
IQ – In-phase / quadrature
KID—Key Identifier (Indicates the encryption key for the message)
LC—Link Control (Information embedded in voice)
LLC—Logical Link Control (Sub-layer of the OSI Data Link Layer)
LSD—Low Speed Data (Data embedded in voice)
MAC—Media Access Control (Sub-layer of the OSI Data Link Layer)
MI—Message Indicator (To initialize encryption)
MSK – Minimum-shift keying
NASTD— International and the National Association of State Telecommunications Directors
Project 25 Phase I – The backwards compatible migration path to full Project 25 specification that specifies a 12.5 kHz bandwidth using C4FM modulation
Project 25 Phase II – The backwards compatible migration path to full Project 25 specification that specifies a 6.25 kHz bandwidth using CQPSK modulation
NID—Network Identifier (The code word following the frame link)
Octal—Base 8 notation for numbers (also called radix 8)
Octet—Eight bits grouped together (Also called byte)
OSI—Open Systems Interconnection reference model
QPSK—Quadrature Phase Shift Keying modulation for data
QPSK-c—Compatible Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (Family of modulations)
RS—Reed-Solomon error connection code
SAP—Service Access Point (Where a network provides service)
STS – System to system, one of the proposed approaches to interoperability testing
TDMA – Time Division Multiple Access
TETRA – Terrestrial Trunked Radio: An open digital trunked radio standard defined by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute
TIA – Telecommunications Industry Association
Type III Encryption—Type of encryption used for non-classified communications
Type IV Encryption—Type of encryption used for export
UM—Common Air Interface reference point
Around the globe, public safety communications agencies looked at the explosion of digital cellular communications technologies with great interest. Operating a myriad of analog systems, users realized that digital was the answer to several critical issues confronting the industry. Chief among these concerns were:
The growing scarcity of available radio spectrum
Better voice quality over greater areas
The growing demand for the integration of new, bandwidth intensive, data functions
Better communications security
The drive to develop a digital solution began in earnest, driven mainly by European and US-based standards bodies. Like its cellular brethren, competing camps developed all of the various access techniques, however, the techniques were unified by digital modulation.
Digital modulation reduces the information in the radio channel to symbols. The symbols are generated in the transmitter’s digital modulator in accordance with a set of instructions from the baseband part of the transmitter. The instructions are bit patterns that represent the information coded into the symbols. The symbols are recovered in a receiver that demodulates the transmitter’s manipulations of its carrier and passes the demodulated waveform on to a decision circuit that decides which of the symbols the transmitter sent at any instant.
SMR systems have followed cellular into the wide adoption of digital radio techniques, but with some minor, though significant, differences. One of the differences is in the preferred modulation types. Since land mobile systems tend to have many modes of operation and need to sometimes interwork with analog systems, they have tended to avoid some of the complex plane types of modulation used in some digital cellular radios. This simplifies amplifier and system design. Another difference is in the use of access techniques. Land mobile systems use various radio access techniques to enhance system performance, e.g. access time, rather then to optimize system capacity.
The digital domain processes are collectively called baseband processes. Three baseband processes are relevant for this discussion:
Channel Coding - We can add gain to our digital radio system by encoding and scrambling our traffic data (voice data or computer files) in some clever way known to the receiver such that the receiver can "figure out" out what the original data or symbol stream actually was even in the presence of a high BER (a high proportion of wrong decisions). There are many types of channel coding schemes, some much more powerful then others. The process is something like sending a message together with , e.g. all the consonants in the message, "OVER THE WALL! + OVRTHW!" The cost to the system is a considerable number of extra bits in the channel.
Voice Coding - is common to all types of digital radio systems, and is the process where an analog voice waveform is digitized and then coded to remove redundancy. There are many ways to encode voice. There is a general tradeoff between the perceived quality of the voice recovered in the receiver against the number of bits needed to encode the voice. Since the process of recovering the original voice waveform requires a detailed knowledge of how the encoding was performed in the first place, both the receiver side and transmitter side functions are performed in the same chip or software module. Being a narrow band service, land mobile radio confines itself to so-called low rate voice coding processes, which are those that favor relatively low data rates with some sacrifice to the perceived quality from the receiver. The digital FM broadcast services are exactly the opposite; they employ the highest rates possible in order to get excellent music reproduction.
Equalization - An equalizer is a device found in most digital receivers that removes ISI (InterSymbol Interference). The radio channel represents a linear, band limited process that can be looked upon as a filter that spreads a symbol’s influence into the previous and next symbols’ times. If left uncorrected, the receiver’s decision circuits would cease to function. As is the case with most digital baseband processes, there is a huge catalog of equalizer schemes to select from.
The U.S. Responds: Project 25 Technology Is Forged.
The Project 25 initiative brought together a wide array of local, state, and government agencies with support from the U.S. Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) to evaluate and develop a new standard for digital two-way radio.
Co-chaired by APCO International and the National Association of State Telecommunications Directors (NASTD), a steering committee was given the job of evaluating the plethora of technologies. Several sub-committees, in-turn, provide the technical expertise to research a number of specialized areas. The objective of the steering committee was to establish an open narrowband digital radio standard. Such an open standard would stimulate competition among multiple vendors for contracts to supply compliant networks with interoperable products. Secondary principles include achieving maximum radio spectrum efficiency, and simplifying P25 equipment.
A Phase-in Approach to Deployment.
The final documents establishing the Project 25 Standard were signed in Aug. 1995. Today, the Project 25 standard calls for a two–phased implementation. Phase I, specifying a 12.5 kHz bandwidth and using the C4FM modulation scheme, is nearly complete. With an eye toward smoothly migrating from 25-kHz analog to 12.5-kHz digital, Phase I radios are capable of both 25 kHz analog FM and 12.5-kHz digital C4FM operation. This allows operators to procure radios as budgets allow.
Similarly, Project 25 Phase II involves a well-planned migration strategy, both in the forward and backward direction. Phase II calls for a 6.25-kHz bandwidth specification, using a CQPSK modulation scheme. Just as in the case of the migration from analog to digital in Phase I, the Phase II implementation allows the use of Phase I radios. Again, since C4FM and CQPSK radios may share a common receiver design, users are allowed the flexibility to gradually replace Phase I radios, base stations and repeaters. Alternative TDMA technologies have been proposed for Phase II and are currently under consideration to ensure they provide the level of functionality required.
Project 25 Technology Basics.
Project 25 was envisioned as a unique approach to developing a common digital radio standard that provided public safety professionals with a new level of performance, efficiency and security. Project 25 standards were also designed with special consideration given to enhancing interoperability, and providing the capability to handle high bandwidth data applications (e.g. transmit photos, criminal records, fingerprints and limited-motion video).
The basic characteristics of Project 25 radios are:
Phase I—Emission designator 8K10F1E (C4FM, compatible four-level frequency modulation) in a 12.5 kHz channel.
Phase II—Emission designator of 5K76G1E (CQPSK, compatible quadrature phase shift keying) in a 6.25 kHz channel.
Common receiver for both C4FM and CQPSK to ensure full interoperability.
Encryption—As defined in the U.S. Data Encryption Standard (DES) algorithms.
Improved Multiband Excitation vocoder—Provides 4400 bits/s of digitized voice.
The first true P25-compliant system is expected to be the statewide P25 trunked system of the Michigan State Police.
Project 25 is a public safety communications standard dedicated to ensuring interoperability in communications. It's designed to ensure fast & secure communications between local, state and federal agencies when protecting the public's welfare.
The Project 25 standard organization is comprised of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO), the National Association of State Telecommunications Directors (NASTD) and the U.S. Federal Government. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) offers representation in the standard's creation and modification.
AvComm is a multi-faceted high-technology company that designs, develops, manufactures and markets a diverse range of microelectronic & test and measurement products. Cobham AvComm is the manufacturer of the 8800, 3550 & 3920 P25 Radio Test Sets.
The Project 25 standard enables interoperability among multiple manufacturers’ P25 products designed to the P25 standard. The P25 Common Air Interface (CAI) is the most widely deployed P25 interface enabling interoperability between P25 radios and between P25 radios and P25 infrastructure regardless of manufacturer. Public safety users can now obtain documented proof of interoperability between P25 Phase 1 CAI Trunked Subscribers and P25 Phase 1 CAI Trunked Infrastructure in manufacturer issued SDoCs (Supplier’s Declarations of Compliance) and STRs (Summary Test Reports) as part of the DHS Compliance Assessment Program.
In addition to the FDMA Common Air Interface, the Project 25 standard suite also enables interoperability for a TDMA Common Air Interface. The Project 25 suite of standards enables interoperability for several wireline interfaces including but not limited to the Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) for connecting disparate P25 networks together which allows users to roam from one network to another network, have encrypted communications across the networks, and permits roamers to talk back with their home users. ISSI gateways are now commercially available in the marketplace today and recently in March 2010 interoperability testing was conducted by several manufacturers successfully demonstrating this capability.
The Project 25 suite of standards enables interoperability for several Data and Secure Services including but not limited to OTAR which provides for key management of encrypted voice and data communications regardless of radio or Key Management Facility manufacturer. Today there are multiple P25 Manufacturers offering commercially available OTAR solutions. Additionally many of these manufacturers have conducted preliminary interoperability testing for OTAR capabilities.
VIAVI is pleased to welcome the AvComm and Wireless businesses (formerly Aeroflex Test and Measurement business) to our award-winning portfolio of technology solutions for network equipment manufacturers, communication service providers, civil, government, military and avionics customers across the globe. Together, we deliver scale and expertise to address many of our customers’ most pressing business challenges spanning 5G/LTE, private mobile radio, tactical military radio, as well as the global next gen airspace initiatives.
“VIAVI already has some 5G-related products to offer vendors, test labs and operators, but adding Cobham's AvComm and Wireless T&M portfolios, will greatly enhance its capabilities. It will also provide VIAVI with more firepower as it battles with other test system specialists for 5G-related business.” – Light Reading
In addition to the AvComm and Wireless products, VIAVI proudly delivers the following Network and Service Enablement and Optical Security and Performance Solutions.
VIAVI Solutions helps service providers, enterprises, and their ecosystems, to deploy, maintain, optimize, and evolve the most complex and powerful networks on the planet. Our core competencies in Network & Service Enablement are in the areas of:
The team at VIAVI are renown experts in the management of light. From specialty filters used for space exploration to custom color solutions for paints, inks, and textiles, to 3D sensing, and protecting the world’s currency from counterfeiters. Our core competencies in Optical Security & Performance Products are in the areas of: