What Does PTCRB Mean?

PTCRB (PCS Type Certification Review Board) is a certification program that ensures the compatibility of wireless devices with North American cellular networks. Managed by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), PTCRB certification is a crucial requirement for manufacturers looking to market their cellular products in North America. 

What Are the Goals of PTCRB? 

Among the list of the PTCRB goals, the following three should be emphasized: 

  • Ensure Device Compatibility. The primary goal of PTCRB certification is to guarantee that wireless devices are fully compatible with the complex and diverse North American cellular networks. This involves rigorous testing and evaluation of various aspects of the device's functionality, ensuring it meets the required telecommunication standards. 

  • Enhance Network Reliability. By enforcing specific bands, protocols, and technologies, PTCRB certification helps enhance the reliability and performance of cellular networks. Certified devices are optimized to work seamlessly with the regional Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), minimizing network disruptions and improving overall connectivity. 

  • Enable Network Access. Devices that successfully pass the necessary PTCRB tests are assigned a unique International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI). Mobile carriers rely on this IMEI to identify and authorize approved devices to access their networks. PTCRB certification thus plays a crucial role in preventing unauthorized devices from accessing the network, ensuring security and quality of service. 

What Does Certification Process Look Like? 

The PTCRB certification process comprises several steps, with manufacturers actively involved in certain stages: 

Process Step 

Description 

Certification Request 

Manufacturers submit a certification request via the PTCRB certification database, creating an account. 

Selecting a Primary Lab 

Manufacturers choose a primary lab from the list of PTCRB-approved testing facilities for capability assessment. 

Testing and Documentation 

The primary lab conducts necessary tests to ensure compliance with North American telecommunication standards. 

Documentation Submission 

Manufacturers submit required documentation for review and verification in the PTCRB certification database. 

Certification Fee Payment 

Manufacturers pay the certification fee to CTIA, the program's administrator, to proceed with the certification. 

Requirements Review 

CTIA reviews submitted documentation and confirms compliance with all PTCRB certification requirements. 

Notification 

Upon successful completion, CTIA notifies PTCRB of device compliance, and manufacturers receive official notice. 

Certification Database Listing 

The PTCRB-certified device is listed in the certification database for verification by mobile carriers and customers. 

What Is the List of Certification Requirements Documents? 

  • PTCRB Program Management Document: Guides manufacturers through the certification process for wireless devices. 

  • PTCRB NAPRD03 Document: Specifies technical requirements for device certification. 

  • PVG Permanent Reference Document PVG.11: Identifies frequency bands used in testing for certification. 

Find more information here: Certification Program | PTCRB 

What Are the Costs? 

Cost considerations are essential for PTCRB certification, and the expenses can vary significantly based on factors such as the complexity of the device's functionality and the type of components used. Manufacturers can achieve cost savings by utilizing PTCRB-certified modules or chipsets, which have already undergone the necessary testing. The cost of certification can range from $10,000 to $500,000, with integrated devices and certified components offering potential cost reductions, sometimes as low as $0 to $1,000. 

How to Check Certified Devices? 

To check PTCRB-certified devices, users can simply enter the Device Type, Manufacturer, Model Number/Name, and other relevant data on the PTCRB website. PTCRB-certified devices cover a wide range of categories, including smartphones (e.g., Apple iPhone series, Samsung Galaxy series), tablets (e.g., Apple iPad series, Samsung Galaxy Tab series), wearables (e.g., Smartwatches, Fitness Trackers), modules (e.g., Quectel BG96, u-blox SARA-R4 series), feature phones (e.g., Nokia 3310, Alcatel GO FLIP), and mobile hotspots (e.g., Netgear Nighthawk M1, TP-Link M7350).