With 5G the buzz-word in telecommunications, the industry is getting ready to introduce compliant and efficient products.


To access the US market, manufacturers and suppliers of wireless devices must understand the latest requirements for CTIA Over-the-Air (OTA) Test Plan certification.

CTIA, formerly known as CTIA – The Wireless Association, is a trade organization dedicated to the US wireless communications industry. To ensure products offered onto the US market are fully compatible, it administers the PTCRB certification program for GSM, UMTS and LTE wireless devices.

PTCRB was set up in 1997 as a certification organization to ensure interoperability between global wireless networks. To do this, it defines test specifications and methods for wireless equipment. The certification process is rigorous, giving assurance to consumers that their product has full compatibility. Without PTCRB certification, a consumer may assume the device will be blocked by wireless networks.

CTIA OTA Certification

Before a smart phone, tablet, notebook or other wireless device can be offered onto the US market, the manufacturer or distributor should ensure it complies with the requirements for CTIA OTA certification. A number of changes to certification requirements have recently come into effect, meaning manufacturers must ensure they understand the way the new CTIA OTA Test Plans will affect their business and its products.

Particularly important for stakeholders to understand are the latest versions of the CTIA OTA Test Plan, Version 3.8.1, and the CTIA MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) OTA Test Plan, Version 1.2.

CTIA OTA Test Plan Version 3.8.1

Released in October 2018, it is expected this will become mandatory on May 15, 2019. The latest version includes the following amendments:

  • Changing from individual TIS (I-TIS) to combined TIS (C-TIS) for all antenna branches in the UE (even devices with only one antenna will have their downlink radiated performance reported in terms of C-TIS)
  • Normative Wrist-Worn Device Testing (LTE, LTE Cat. M1, and LTE A-GNSS)
  • Remove conducted testing for all cellular testing
  • Require transmission of the IE p-max for TRP testing of Power Class 1 devices (high-power UE TRP testing)
  • Normative requirement for LTE Category M1
  • Added 2DL CA 70C for TRP and TIS Testing
  • Added MBS positioning radiated performance tests (Metropolitan Beacon System: 925.977 MHz)
  • Added Bluetooth OTA test methodology (Informative)
  • CA testing simplifications (including operator CA and LAA priority list)
  • Added Informative LAA (License Assisted Access: LTE TDD Band 46) Testing
  • Alternate OTA test procedure for low duty-cycle IoT devices
  • Modify the A-GNSS sensitivity test conditions for LTE Band 14
  • Test Time Reduction (e.g. reduced phantom test configurations)

CTIA MIMO OTA Test Plan Version 1.2

Released in April 2018, it is expected this will become mandatory on May 3, 2019. Updates include:

  • Added DML (Data Mode Landscape) - Left Tilt and DMSU (Data Mode Screen Up) in normative operating bands < 1 GHz
  • Added LTE Band 66
  • Added TDD SIR validation procedure
  • Added performance requirement in 90% MARSS outage point
  • Added Variable Reference Measurement Channel (RMC) MIMO throughput test (Informative)

Businesses operating in the US need to ensure they and their wireless products are ready for the next generation of CTIA OTA certification requirements. To be certified, the CTIA OTA Test Plan requirements must be checked by a CTIA Authorized Testing Laboratory (CATL).

SGS Solution

SGS is a globally recognized leader in the provision of testing and certification services for the wireless industry and is an accredited CATL. We operate at the cutting-edge of wireless technology, constantly expanding our range of services to help manufacturers effectively and efficiently access their target markets.

With a global network of wireless testing laboratories, our experts operate in all the main centers of wireless technology development and application. We understand the requirements of both carriers and consumers, and are approved/certified to run the OTA requirements for many major carriers in the US and worldwide.

Learn more about SGS’s OTA testing services >

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For more information, please contact:

Dr. Peter Liao
Global OTA Technical Leader
Wireless Laboratory
t: +886 2 2299 3279 ext. 1562

Updated: April 4, 2019