Why telecoms need to invest more in test and measurement solutions

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Recently, Indian telecom regulator TRAI shared the performance of 3G service providers who have not met the QoS benchmarks during the September quarter in 2015.

According to TRAI, 3G telecom network operators who did not meet certain QoS parameters include Aircel, BSNL, Vodafone and Tata Docomo.

Telecom network operators and telecom mobile equipment makers make investment in test and measurement (T&M) equipments for analyzing and measuring electronic and mechanical devices throughout their life-cycle. Mobile equipment makers such as Samsung, Apple, Micromax, among others, also invest in T&M solutions in the design, development, verification, maintenance, and repair of electronic and mechanical products.

ALSO READ: Telecom test and measurement market to reach $6.69 bn by 2020

Telecom performance report from TRAI indicates that telecom network operators’ investment in T&M solutions is not adequate to improve QoS and hence customer experience.

Despite making investment in T&M solutions, TRAI found poor performance from Indian telecoms. TRAI, in a report released in February 2016, has shared details of telecoms with the worst affected cells having more than 3 percent TCH drop (call drop) and Circuit Switched Voice Drop Rate.

In the same report, TRAI also observed improvement in performance among Indian 3G operators. The areas which improved performance include BTSs and Node-B’s due to downtime, call set up success rate, SDCCH/Paging channel and RRC congestion, TCH and circuit switched RAB congestion, call drop and circuit switched voice drop rate, connection with good voice quality and circuit switch voice quality and Point of Interconnection (POI) congestion.

There’s no data available on the exact investment in T&M solutions by telecom operators to improve network quality and customer experience.

T&M market

With test and measurement companies launching improved technologies associated to telecom, the growth and importance of these devices seem to be hiking up fast. The T&M market is highly fragmented due to the presence of many global and local vendors. In developed countries the competition is tough due to the presence of a multitude of global suppliers.

Though several vendors have entered the market, it is difficult for them to compete with established suppliers in terms of quality, durability, reliability, and technological innovation. The vendor competition is expected to increase with an increase in technological innovations and M&A in the future.

Some of the ace companies in the communication space of T&M market include EXFO, Keysight Technologies, Anritsu, Ixia, National Instruments, Tektronix, Yokogawa Electric, Ascom, Rohde & Schwarz, Viavi Solutions, Spirent Communications, among others.

Latest T&M developments

Deviser Instruments introduced a remote spectrum monitoring system, DS1620 SpectrumProfiler, which is intended to monitor critical networks and public agencies, and can be implemented as a single device or as a network of devices to monitor spectrum issues in a particular geographic area, rather than interference hunting with hand-held devices, alongside providing remote access.

Rohde & Schwarz has entered into an agreement with China Mobile Research to collaborate on “5G” research as a partner in the China Mobile 5G Innovation Center. The innovation center was opened at Mobile World Congress this year and many plans to support a number of open labs for various areas of 5G-related research, including “Internet of Things” applications, connected car, industrial Internet, and communications capabilities.

Rohde & Schwarz also introduced its SmartMonitor solution for real-time, service quality monitoring that the company claims can be accomplished on a “plug-and-play” basis.

Small Cell Forum and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute have announced to hold their fourth small cell plugfest in Naples, Italy, in June at Telecom Italia’s labs to test interoperability and reliability in multi-vendor environments. The two-week testing event will be open to the members of ETSI and Small Cell Forum and will focus on self-organizing network features of small cells along with the impact of LTE-Advanced, traffic offloading and closed subscriber groups.

CTIA’s 911 Location Technologies Test Bed has selected LCC Design Services, a part of Tech Mahindra, to be the independent administrator for its test bed for 911 location accuracy. CTIA has announced the test bed as an independent testing entity, while the LCC will develop the process for evaluating indoor accuracy and will convey whether the technologies comply with Federal Communications Commission rules established in 2015 for indoor location, including vertical information.

Anite introduced Propsim F32 channel emulator which will support a new multiple-input/multiple-output over-the-air testing protocol recommended by the Third Generation Partnership Project that relies on a multiprobe anaechoic chamber methodology for testing.

Anite has also announced that it will join with Turkcell for primarily benchmarking applications such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram by using Anite’s Nemo Xynergy, Nemo Invex II and Nemo Walker Air.

Anritsu is offering support for more LTE-A feature testing with a new software package for its MT8821C radio communications analyzer that will consist of testing for 4×4 MIMO testing with two component-carrier carrier aggregation, and five component-carrier carrier aggregation in the downlink in different configurations.

Meanwhile, Anritsu announced that its ME7873LA RF/RRM conformance test system has the most PTCRB-validated test cases for three component-carrier carrier aggregation. Anritsu has also launched a signal analyzer alongside expanded fiber testing capabilities for data centers, metro and core networks on its optical transport tester.

Anritsu had revealed a similar product last year with remote spectrum monitoring capabilities, but as claimed by Deviser, their solution provides self-positioning sensors that enhance their product.

Keysight Technologies has renovated its equipment renewal program to provide expanded opportunities for its customers to upgrade equipment.

IXIA has announced Hawkeye, an automated, proactive service-level agreement (SLA), and user experience monitoring solution that generates and analyzes synthetic network and application traffic to assess how applications and services will perform. Ixia is also partaking with VMWare, CENX and Mitel to provide interoperable, real-time service assurance, particularly for IoT applications and with the ability to leverage virtualized network functions.

National Instruments will be collaborating with the Industrial Internet Consortium and a multitude of names in the industry, including Cisco, Bosch Rexroth and Intel, on a new timing focused test bed for IoT networks.

How T&M market growing

The test and measurement market will grow at a CAGR of more than 5 percent. The growth of the communication sector in APAC will be one of the key factors driving the growth of the test and measurement market globally.

Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market in the global communication sector, and there has been a considerable rise in the number of mobile Internet subscribers in developing nations like India and China. This rise is believed to create a demand for capacity expansion and faster 4G network. The expansion of 4G network in APAC countries will add to the growth of the T&M market.

During 2015, the US has dominated the T&M market, summing for more than 37 percent of the market share, also being the largest revenue contributors. Factors like the increasing penetration of smartphones and the increasing popularity of Internet of Things in the US alongside growing demand from the aerospace and automobile industries will aid in the growth of the T&M market in the Americas.

The software testing market in telecom sector is expected to exceed $3 billion by 2019, growing at a CAGR of over 8 percent, as per analyst reports.

Vina Krishnan
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