Interoperability testing has always been a critical verification tool for network UE but it is becoming increasingly complex. Given the myriad of use cases into which UE is integrated, it’s necessary to ensure key performance indicators (KPIs) and quality of experience (QoE) thresholds are met. That’s why one U.S. Tier 1 carrier turned to Anritsu and its Custom Solutions Team to improve its verification process.
Anritsu was tasked with making the UE testing labs at one of the mobile operator’s largest U.S. facilities more efficient. A team of experienced engineers created a custom hardware-software solution that is increasing throughput, creating cost efficiencies, and ensuring more accurate testing for greater confidence in how devices will operate on the service provider’s 5G network.
One of the most difficult challenges was ensuring the test system met the specific requirements of the mobile operator. Testing is framed based on the carrier network’s unique features and functions. As a result, a longer and more complex list of custom tests must be performed to ensure UE compliance.
Creating Efficient Testing Workflow
The lab has multiple, dedicated test rooms to create real-world scenarios for device verification. UE manufacturers reserve time in the respective test rooms to evaluate their devices to validate operation and compatibility with the carrier’s network before they are introduced into the market.
A signal monitoring solution to confirm each test room accurately emulated a real-world wireless environment was the original request. The rooms utilize dedicated signal levels set by the operator. To have confidence the 5G devices will work according to specifications on the live networks, the service provider must know that those signal levels are maintained throughout the entire test process.
Achieving such a goal required more than highly accurate test solutions. A tailored system had to be developed. Meetings were held between the Anritsu team and management of the mobile operator. Based on these discovery discussions, the Anritsu engineers recognized a need to improve how test rooms were scheduled, as well. They realized that if they could replace the time-consuming manual process with an automated online system that integrated the required testing parameters based on each test room reservation, tremendous time efficiencies could be achieved. Figure 1 shows the online dashboard indicating signals, levels, and any reservations. The bottom line – more UEs can be verified faster.
Figure 1: Custom dashboard developed by Anritsu streamlines verification process.
Custom Hardware-Software Solution
The Anritsu Custom Solution Team returned to their offices and collaborated on how to create a hardware-software solution. The integrated, automated system consists of:
Field Master Pro™ MS2090A – The handheld spectrum analyzer delivers the highest continuous coverage from 9 kHz to 54 GHz, so it supports all the potential frequencies used in each room. Its 110 MHz modulation bandwidth coupled with best-in-class phase noise performance maximizes measurement precision, while ±0.5 dB typical amplitude accuracy provides confidence that it is precisely monitoring the room.
Spectrum Monitor Module – The compact spectrum monitor module is used to characterize spectrum occupancy. Monitoring these frequencies provides the information needed to optimize the spectrum for maximum utilization, as well as ensure compliance.
Custom Web Interface – Dedicated software was written to create an online interface that streamlines the entire verification process. It provides engineers with a dashboard to monitor the frequency levels of each room throughout testing. Scheduling of the labs is also done through the interface to eliminate any issues. Figure 2 shows the online dashboard of a signal view where users can attenuate signals if they have a reservation.
Figure 2: Dashboard view of a signal view in one of the test chambers.
The Anritsu-based system monitors the signal power levels for each test area to ensure they match the configured environment. Alerts are built into the software so engineers are immediately notified if a required signal is not present in the testing lab, so it can be corrected quickly.
Greater Efficiency Achieved
By writing the scheduling tool into the software, Anritsu has simplified the operation of the test labs. Engineers can directly reserve test chambers, as well as select appropriate signals for transmission and the appropriate signal attenuation levels. All these actions are conducted directly from a browser, which in turn controls a third-party RF matrix and attenuator solution.
Each test room has a monitor to display current and upcoming reservations. Existing configured signals and levels are also shown. It allows for quick notifications to room users, so proper setup and testing is conducted, improving overall accuracy and efficiency.
All the goals determined in the early-stage planning have been met by the customized solution. It has and is improving overall lab operating efficiency, by containing costs, and ensuring high accuracy. The system is also future proof, as the mobile operator can expand the tool to add test rooms and/or change parameters directly.
To learn more about the success story, download the case history.