Terminal testing for network operators: the applications and limitations of a network simulator: Page 6 of 7

July 13, 2015 //By Francois Ortolan, Anritsu (EMEA)
Mobile phone subscribers care nothing about the complex mix of factors underlying the performance of their handset in the real world. By and large, if the user experiences a dropped call, or a low data download rate, or poor voice quality, he or she will blame the network operator. The real cause of the poor performance might be the handset, or the backhaul network - factors outside the direct control of the operator. To subscribers, this is irrelevant: they pay for mobile network service, and if they do not get it, the service provider must be at fault.

Research and development

Many operators today run extensive research and development operations. These are tasked with anticipating subscribers' needs, uncovering opportunities to reduce costs, and developing added-value services.

For instance, an operator might model the traffic profile of a newly popular application, in order to project the future requirement for network capacity to support it. The advantage of performing these tests on a network simulator is that it can reveal the impact on a terminal's performance not only in standardised technology implemented in the live network, but also in future generations of technology not yet supported by network equipment vendors, such as Wi-Fi offload (see Figure 4), or the remote provisioning and management of embedded SIM cards (eUICC) in M2M devices (see Figure 5). Location based service can also benefit from additional testing with a simulated GPS/GNSS signal.

Figure 4: a simulator enables the operator to tune the implementation of a mobile phone's Wi-Fi offload function. Click image to enlarge.

Figure 5: cloud services supporting an M2M application in combination with an automation test framework that includes a network simulator. Click image to enlarge.

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