When the members of the GSMA’s Terminal Steering Group (TSG) agreed to take forward the Digital Commerce project team’s ‘NFC handset requirements and test cases’, they knew it would be a challenge to align NFC handset requirements at a global level, create supporting test cases and facilitate their transfer into global device certification – and all against an ambitious time plan. Deutsche Telekom (DT), like other mobile operators, terminal vendors and third-party testing systems, is actively working on bringing NFC-based solutions into the market, but is challenged with a very fragmented terminal and testing landscape.
The time required to align the needed enablers was (and still is) critical and limited, for all involved. Two subgroups were set up within TSG to drive the NFC handset requirements and NFC test book work, respectively. Whilst DT took responsibility for chairing the NFC handset requirements streams, it found a strong partner in COMPRION (namely Claus Madsen) who took the lead for the NFC test book work. The work streams were staffed by subject matter experts from mobile operators and terminal vendors around the globe.
Formally agreed by TSG in September 2013, work immediately kicked off in GSMA according to a tight timetable and process plan. A few critical updates to both the handset requirements documentation and the test book were quickly agreed and published in November and December 2013, respectively. These were followed by major updates to the handset requirements (published TS.26 v5 in March 2014) and Test Book (published TS.27 v3.9 in April 2014), which included updates to the title, structure, introduction, abbreviations, terms of definitions, references, document structure, figures, editorials, requirements, test environment and test cases. The updates were related to core required NFC features, CLF Management API, (multiple) card emulation mode, reader/writer mode & tag management requirements, support for SIMalliance API, UI application triggering, NFC event and access control requirements, platform dependent properties, and security. Furthermore, the updates took into consideration over 240 change requests gathered from participating members. Both teams made a great effort to make requirements and test cases more OS-agnostic, whilst organizing OS-specific requirements and test cases in dedicated annexes.
Given the complexity of some of the underlying technology components, the ongoing technical developments, fora work, and the variances across OS implementations, not all requirements and test cases could be finalized in one release cycle. Instead, a new release cycle of delivery was implemented immediately following a publication of the previous one. Besides driving significant update work within TSG, many efforts were taken to drive alignment across the industry – contacts were established and regular interactions took place with NFC Forum, Global Platform and SIMalliance.
Global certification implementation is a key target for TSG and its members and this has been the case from the outset. In parallel to the TSG work, efforts were started to prepare a new work item in GCF (Global Certification Forum), covering NFC IOP and conformance testing. Interaction between TSG and GCF members have been so well-defined and process driven, that on 24 April, GCF could approve a new work item in less than 72 hours after GSMA published TS.27 NFC test book. 90 days later, on 8 July 2014, over 80% of the priority-1-rated test cases could be validated and the work item formally activated in GCF.
Significant progress has been achieved in less than a year due to the team efforts. However, the activated GCF work item scope is still small and necessitates DT (and other mobile operators) to keep performing NFC tests in-house. The challenge remains to deliver the much needed enabler: Over 100 test cases are still to be defined, aligned, delivered and adopted by GCF and PTCRB (development of underlying test tools by the industry) to fully cover the latest handset requirements release. This in turn will need to be continuously enhanced and also aligned with a very fragmented transport industry. Driving and delivering, both technical and industry alignment, can only be possible through active and wide engagement.
Author: Katrin Jordan, Deutsche Telekom, Technology Innovation and Research, former Chair of the TSG NFC Work Item and handset requirements sub stream
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