There was a little cold-water type reality splashed on the audience at the morning panels here Thursday at the 4GWE conference, specifically around the notion of 4G network and device testing -- a relatively non-sexy topic that may nevertheless slow down the delivery of all the new devices promised for the 4G networks of the future.
The problem, as outlined by the panelists, is that with the increased bandwidth and increased functionality of the mobile devices of the future comes exponential requirements for testing to make sure the devices and the applications residing on them work as promised.
There was some deep-dive material that we're not going to get into right now (check this space for an update when we post the panel presentations) but on a simpler plane panelists like David Gehringer, VP of marketing for Fanfare Software, noted that things like the IEEE standards, say for mobile WiMAX, are really just the starting point for delivering a working device.
"It's nice to have a standard, but it's really just the ante," Gehringer said. After you meet the baseline standard specs, he said, "then the real testing starts."
Fanny Mlinarsky, president of octoScope, said that in the past testing mobile devices was relatively simple, since they typically only had one radio inside. Now, multiple radios -- different cellular bands, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth -- are a given, as are multiple applications, sometimes from third parties outside the carrier's own operations.
The complexity, she said, makes testing devices a much harder task these days. Even Apple's iPhone, which all panelists agreed was an extremely well-tested device from the manufacturer's standpoint, has attracted a wide range of add-on applications, some of which perform better than others -- especially when it comes to battery usage.
"That's why iPhone users stay close to the power plug," Mlinarsky said.
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