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PTCRB Certification Overview for Cellular M2M and IoT Devices

Feb 08, 2016 | Length: 3:58

This video tutorial simplifies the confusing PTCRB requirements for M2M devices, and explains OTA testing (TRP, TIS, intermediate channel), radiated spurious emissions, and SIM interface testing.

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I'm Kyle Sporre with Digi Wireless Design Services and I'd like to give you an overview of PTCRB certification for M2M applications, which means data only devices, no voice. And specifically, I'd like to talk about those products that make use of a certified cell module. Using a certified cell module can save you a lot of development cost, time, certification cost and certification time versus using a non-certified chipset design. So where is PTCRB required and when?

Well, PTCRB is only applicable in North America and only required in North America. So any place outside of North America, PTCRB is not applicable. The technologies that require PTCRB would be the GSM technologies and those line up with several carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile and Rogers and Telus in Canada. Verizon and Sprint do not require PTCRB. GSM, GPRS and EDGE, UMTS, HSPA, LTE, these are the technologies that require PTCRB. The CDMA technologies are not applicable for PTCRB.

Now, when you get PTCRB certification, what tests will be run by the test lab? Well, one thing the will be run is SIM card interface. This is to make sure that you've implemented your SIM card properly in your product. Another test that will be run is Radiated Spurious Emissions or RSE for short. RSE is very similar to FCC spurious emissions, but for PTCRB, the limits are more stringent. RSE will be run in idle mode and active mode.

Idle mode is run with the cellular transmitter turned off. Active mode is run with the cellular transmitter turned on and is basically a measurement of the harmonics of the transmitter. And the third test that will be run, which is more commonly known and more difficult to pass is the CTIA OTA test plan. If your antenna is less than 20 cm away from your device, then you will have to run the OTA test plan. OTA stands for Over-the-Air.

If your antenna is more than 20 cm away from your device, then you will be exempt from running this test plan. The two tests that are most well-known and also probably the most difficult to pass for OTA are TRP and TIS, which are Total Radiated Power and Total Isotropic Sensitivity. Now, PTCRB actually does not have pass-fail criteria for these two tests, but AT&T and some other carriers actually do. So these two tests will be tested for PTCRB but the data will be given to the carrier for them to check against their pass-fail criteria, which means you could conceivably pass PTCRB but fail AT&T certification due to poor performance for these two tests.

And the third OTA test that many people are unaware of or just forget about is what we call RSIC which is Relative Sensitivity Intermediate Channel. This is a test of receiver sensitivity on a large subset of channels that the module supports and compares the relative sensitivity across all those channels. PTCRB does have pass-fail criteria for this test. If you'd like more information on any of these, you can go to the CTIA website and actually get the OTA test plan, which is public. You can also go to and get additional documentation on PTCRB testing.

So this is the overview of PTCRB certification for M2M applications.

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