Your mobile today does a lot more than just calling. Mobile data communication has well and truly pervaded every aspect of our daily lives. From essential activities like banking and health monitoring, to leisure options such as TV and shopping, more and more services are being consumed over mobile devices which demands for higher data throughput networks with reduced latency.
Owing to the growing demand of mobile users with the "Anywhere, Anytime" access to the Internet, mobile operators existing data networks will soon be clogged. To address consumers’ ever increasing need for data consumption on mobiles, telecom operators are investing heavily in high speed LTE networks. LTE technology has the potential to transmit data on average about five times as fast as 3G. With high peak data rates, LTE has the capabilities to greatly expand network capacity and offer large number of customers the ability to access a wide range of high-speed services. At the same time, additional spectrum available will enable operators to manage their networks more flexibly, offering greater coverage and better performance. It also creates a very compelling business proposition for telecom service providers with variable spectrum bandwidth, smooth migration and the ability to deliver low cost per bit voice and data services.
But it is easier said than done as migration to LTE brings its own set of challenges for telecom service providers. However, these challenges can be addressed with a comprehensive testing framework that can help operators roll out LTE services faster. The need of the hour is a focused and comprehensive testing approach to overcome the challenges faced by telecom service providers for an efficient LTE network testing and discusses solutions for addressing these testing challenges.
The two major challenges faced in LTE deployment are:
- Migration from multiple legacy technologies - The telecom industry is experiencing migration from multiple existing technologies (GSM/GPRS, UMTS/HSPA, CDMA/EVDO, IMS Core and Wi-Fi) to LTE. This multiplicity and variety in legacy technologies brings out various deployment scenarios and combinations for the telecom service provider which can be a challenge to address when considering quality and faster network roll-out.
- Heterogeneous multi-vendor network elements - LTE is an all IP-technology with open interfaces, and therefore there are a large number of telecom equipment vendors offering LTE solutions. This gives flexibility to the service provider to pick and choose competitive vendor solutions in their network in order to achieve deployment flexibility and lower costs. However this also presents interoperability challenge.
Given these challenges, LTE deployment should push for adequate emphasis on testing which enables a seamless migration to LTE from 3GPP/3GPP2 technologies, ensures faster deployment, offers inter-operability between multi-vendor network and guarantees quality of service.
For telecom operators, while LTE promises a fast growing and sustainable revenue stream, the field is highly competitive. To stay ahead of competition, operators need to ensure that they are able to rollout LTE services faster, while ensuring high levels of quality. However, in reality there are challenges which need to be addressed. One way to address this would be to have the tests undertaken in independent, neutral and un-biased test environment with know-how of multiple technologies (GSM / UMTS / LTE), multiple domains and multiple vendors experience focusing on Interoperability testing, Pre-deployment testing and Field acceptance testing mimicking field reference configurations.
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