The number of people using their cellphone as a primary device is continuing to increase and this includes campus and corporate environments where the ease-of-use of a single device makes using a smartphone running Android, iOS or something similar the preferable corporate interface. In fact more than half of carrier data traffic is consumed from an indoor location making it important for operators to focus on ensuring signal strength is adequate in such environments.
At MWC in 2012 I spent some time with Ascom the network testing and monitoring company to learn about their partnership with iBwave Design software for in-building wireless network design. Through the partnership Ascom’s TEMS mobile network testing solutions enables engineers to use building coordinates to align their in-building presence and provide a baseline for route planning and walk testing. Moreover, the data adds to the TEMs application by allowing engineers to display antenna locations as well determining leakage caused by outside cell sites.
Moreover, the software can detect WiFi signals and help carriers determine if they want to add WiFi hotspots of their own to buildings.
While at the Ascom booth I also got a chance to see the company’s benchmarking tools for trains, cars and autonomous vehicles. Moreover I had a chance to learn how the company’s TEMS Monitor Master software allows drag-and-drop building of scripts to test end-to-end network performance. Simple things can be tested like voice calls, IVR, voice, VoIP and e-mail as well as emulating an SMS to web link. And yes, you can use it to test Apple’s Visual Voicemail.
The ruggedized RTU-5 probe (pictured) which replaces the X219 was on display in the booth and the heat-sink looking device supports up to four modems, is all solid state and is outfitted with USB ports. The probes can be scheduled to test at various intervals – let’s say during busy times, every five minutes, etc.
The company also showed me their central SIM server allowing carriers to utilize an IP network to leverage a SIM server located anywhere. In this manner, carriers can easily tests SIMS form any part of the world on its network and can subsequently see failure ratios, the number of dropped calls, dropped sessions and FTP data rates. Failures show up in red on an intuitive GUI can clicking will allow you to drill down to the test case which failed. Subsequently carriers can do a radio and/or packet trace to determine the cause of the problem.
With the advent of the 4G LTE iPad which was released just last week we can expect even more users to rely primarily on their wireless carrier network instead of WiFi. Especially since quite often, 4G may be faster than in-building WiFi solutions.
With the trend towards more powerful devices and faster networks, the timing for Ascom and their new products probably couldn’t be better.