The PCS Type Certification Review Board, also known as the PTCRB, is a certification board established by North American cellular operators to test mobile phones, IoT devices, M2M devices and modules, and similar hardware operating on mobile networks.

Created in 1997, the purpose of the PTCRB is to ensure that devices operating on North American mobile networks like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are fully compliant with network requirements.

In addition, the PTCRB is responsible for providing opinions on device testing rules and regulations to organizations that develop device standards, such as the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, sometimes called CTIA – The Wireless Association, is in charge of processing PTCRB certification and administering International Mobility Equipment Identities (IMEI), which provide a way for PTCRB-certified devices to be verified and identified.

PTCRB certification consists of running IoT devices through a standard array of tests, including:

  • Measuring a device’s spurious emissions. This ensures that the device is operating at the correct radio frequency so it doesn’t interfere with other signals or transmit unwanted data.
  • Checking a device’s SIM card interface to ensure the SIM card is properly installed.

It’s important for operators and device manufacturers to ensure their devices are PTCRB-certified, as doing so ensures compliance with cellular network standards.

Without PTCRB certification, device manufacturers won’t be able to interoperate with many North American cellular carriers.

Here are a few test labs that are accredited by PTCRB:

  • Intertek
  • 7Layers
  • AT4 Wireless
  • Bureau Veritas ADT

The date on PTCRB certification indicates how long it’s believed that a device or module will remain up-to-date with PTCRB standards.

PTCRB certification can take as long as two months, depending on the complexity of any given device.

Whether a device uses data only versus data and voice, if it has an external or internal antenna, and whether or not a device is already using a PTCRB-certified module are factors that impact how long the process takes.

As well, these factors can play when it comes to the cost of PTCRB certification, which can range from $20,000 to $50,000 depending on the device’s complexity.