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4G Testing on the Rise

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

As the delivery of next-generation services becomes highly dependent on end-user Quality of Experience (QoE), it also helps the service providers to manage their customer retention and thus the focus has shifted to T&M solutions. T&M solutions are expected to give a competitive edge to the service providers.

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LTE seems to be gathering a lot of steam by increasing need of wireless data and network deployments. The future of wireless will be riding on 3G and WiMax or LTE deployment and value added services. All services like internet banking, stock trading, web surfing, videoconferencing, m-banking, m-health, cloud computing are moving towards the mobile networks.



“Although T&M market is growing at a steady pace, it does have its share of challenges, especially in wake of the rapidly evolving communication technologies,” says Parmeet S Ahuja, country general manager, Agilent Technologies India.



Different categories of test and measurement instruments are required for the wireless communication industry ranging from early design and development, through volume manufacturing, to network deployment and service assurance. The launch of LTE and BWA represents the constant evolution of networks which would result in business opportunity for test to achieve operational efficiency.

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Drivers



Large and small enterprises, as well as consumers, are now demanding anytime, anywhere, always-on internet access with increased levels of QoE from the numerous applications they use everyday. New mobile devices are driving the need for faster wireless networks such as 3G/LTE, while downloadable applications are increasing both revenue and customer loyalty. Examples include the extraordinary growth in smartphone usage, the introduction of affordable netbook and tablet devices, and the download of billions of applications from online stores.



The customers are more demanding than ever before, they crave for more data intensive applications-m-banking, video calling, mobile TV, etc, and it is moving towards mobile networks. These can only be accepted by the user, if proven for reliability and QoS. This requirement highlights the need to have measurement solutions in place to baseline these technologies for user requirements. The increased demand for mobile services and low tolerance for poor quality has spurned investment in new technologies as well as the backhaul and core portions of the network. Only a strong T&M program can determine whether or not these investments have any impact on customer QoE.

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For dense urban deployments in India, the primary challenge will be to scale the network against the capacity demand. CEWIT India anticipates a 50% increase in cell sites by 2014 where the primary increase will be in dense urban areas. Since even in urban areas copper based access is quite sparse, it is likely that broadband will be delivered by LTE, HSPA+ and carrier grade Wi-Fi deployments. Such a deployment will likely rely on using wireless relay options of LTE as well as using LTE as a backhaul link for Wi-Fi.



“Since both rural broadband and urban LTE densification are at starting point, majority of the equipment is expected to be Release 10 compliant,” says Amit Arora, country manager, India & Saarc, EXFO, a Canada based T&M firm. He also says that this will open up a number of opportunities including the use of coordinated multi-point transmission/reception (CoMP) and relay based backhaul to compensate cell edge performance problems.





Innovations

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Spirent, one of the key players in the space has also come up with innovative solutions in mobile internet , data center, cloud computing, high-speed ethernet, wireless, applications, and security testing-the areas that matter most to service providers and equipment manufacturers.



The company is also successfully providing one-stop shop solution for LTE terminal side, from conformance to performance, physical layer to application layer, single session to service interaction, R&D to carrier acceptance, and commits to bring the real end-user experience to lab to speed up the smartphone diffusing to mobile internet.



Agilent, the world's premier measurement company, provides test products to mobile phone designers and manufacturers with increased measurement speeds, improved accuracy, and exceptional flexibility for testing mobile devices. Extend Agilent wireless test set capabilities with software products designed to streamline wireless measurements and automate testing for time-consuming and complex measurement and analysis tasks.

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Challenges



One of the obstacles in the market is that telecom operators have reduced expenditure on capex and sub-contracting work is increasing. There is much more potential in LTE but, as of now, some operators are holding back on LTE. A very few operators have realized the need for T&M.



Customer acquisition and ARPUs are important in India rather than quality. Industry consensus is that 5% of the investment on network should be shifted to T&M. Fluctuation in foreign exchange has also posed a threat.

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R&D operations are working on cutting-edge technologies of the future, and have the needs of test equipment which help them test these technologies for future-readiness. Product development companies on the other hand, have needs for testing their products faster and cheaper to ensure fast time-to-market with cost-competitiveness.



HS Bhaskar, country manager, Spirent Communications says, “The world has moved ahead with technological developments happening day by day and it requires more and more technical tools to validate the equipments. So, understanding the need, the SP need to rethink on the pricing of the T&M equipments.”



There is also a drive to optimize the cost of operations at the top and standardizing on a reliable vendor partner is one way where both the parties stand to gain. This is true even for T&M.

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