GCF stands for Global Certification Forum which is responsible for certifying mobile devices that work on cellular networks. GCF is a partnership of mobile network operators, infrastructure vendors, device vendors and test houses that create the certification process which ensure mobile devices conform to the 3GPP standards (3GPP is the group that defines the standards). GCF certification ensures that the mobile device will work across different cellular networks that adopt 3GPP standard.
GCF’s motto is “Test Once, Use Anywhere” which highlights the broad acceptance of GCF approved devices.
GCF certification is required for all kinds of devices that operate on the celllar network including mobile phones, notebooks, tablets. smartphones, USB dongles, mobile hotspot devices, M2M devices etc. GCF certification includes conformance, interoperability and field testing.
GCF certification is usually required for products launched in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. In North America, PTCRB certification is required. Test cases for GCF and PTCRB certification are very similar since they both test conformance to 3GPP standards.
A list of GCF approved devices is listed on the GCF website. For each GCF approved device, following information is listed,
- Manufacturer name
- Product name
- Device features
- Supported technologies – GPRS, EDGE, UMTS etc
- Supported frequency bands
- Date of GCF certification
GCF Certitication Process for Connected Devices
GCF has established an optimises process for getting certification for conencted devices which significantly reduces cost and time. The three requirements for using this optimized process are,
- The embedded module that is used in the connected device must have GCF certification
- The embedded module must have been certified less than 3 years prior to the certification of the connected device
- 3GPP communication cannot be the primary function of the connected device.
The manufacturer of device is responsible for selecting the test cases for certifying the device. The manufacturer must determine whether the functionality or the performance of the module is altered by intergating it within the device. The manufacturer should select the field trial requirements (Annex F.5) and inter-operability tests (Annex G) from the GCF Certification Criteria.
Once the connected device passes applicable tests, the manufacturer should submit ‘Certification Declaration’ via the GCF website, which includes the following information,
- Terminal Declaration
- GCF certified terminal declaration
- Field trial results
- Over the Air (OTA) antenna performance measurements
- Certification criteria applicability list
GCF Certification Costs
The cost of the GCF certification will depend on the feature set and complexity of the device – data-only or voice-and-data, internal Vs external antenna, number of frequency bands supported, if the device alters the functionality of the module that is being used etc. Depending on these factors, the certification costs could be anywhere between $15K – $50K. It is prudent to get quotes from the certification labs.
GCF Certification Labs
Following are some of the test labs that can provides GCF certification services,