Five radio manufacturers—Motorola, Tait Radio Communications, Tyco Electronics M/A-COM, EFJohnson Technologies, and Technisonic Industries—successfully conducted interoperability tests this week using the Project 25 Phase 1 trunking common air interface. The tests were conducted at Motorola’s Schaumburg, Ill., headquarters.

“Everybody set aside their competitive tendencies for the week and worked in a cooperative manner, said Bob Schassler, Motorola’s vice president of government and public-safety products.

Testing was done using the same methods required by the Department of Homeland Security, which will recognize vendor test labs later this year as part of the Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program, or CAP. That recognition is expected to be completed for vendor labs by the end of April.

Compliance testing is something that customers have been clamoring for, according to Samantha Hood, Motorola’s P25 CAP business manager. “We’ve gotten a lot of requests from customers saying that they need documented testing and that they need it today,” Hood said.

Hood acknowledged that the interoperability capability shown this week has been demonstrated before, but that it had not been documented in such a formal manner previously. “The new part is the testing itself,” she said.

Details of the week-long compliance test held this week will be posted on Motorola’s web site (www.motorola.com/project 25). Because Motorola’s CAP lab has yet to be recognized by DGS, the results will be labeled as preliminary, Hood said.

Despite the lack of recognition from DHS to date, Hood said this week’s testing would let public-safety agencies proceed with P25 procurements with confidence. “This will satisfy most of our customers—they just want documentation,” she said.

Hood added that Motorola will conduct similar interoperability testing for each new system release. Testing this week was on Astro 25 version 7.6; version 7.7 is expected to be released in June.

Paul May, business development manager for M/A-COM, said his company would conduct similar testing on its systems at the company’s Lynchburg, Va., facility. Though establishing and maintaining the individual test labs required a lot of work and a significant financial outlay from each vendor, May said the investment would pay off.

“It’s a cost of doing business in the P25 world. Our expectation is that this will expand the market for P25,” May said. “Hopefully … we’ll be able to spread those costs over a larger installed base.”

On the other hand, the labs could save the vendors significant time and money over the long haul, said Andy Davis, Motorola’s senior resource manager for P25 engineering support.

“We already have individual customers who are demanding interoperability—which occurs at factory staging and customer acceptance— so this program might save us some work in the long run,” Davis said. “We will do testing for every infrastructure release and post the results at the government web site, and we’re hoping that customers will all go there instead of asking us, one by one, for the same testing.”