Overcoming system complexity
The global mobile environment continues to evolve at a rapid pace, challenging network engineers and device OEMs to meet ever more demanding performance requirements. Customer demand for low-latency video for productivity, entertainment, and gaming applications is putting record demand on mobile networks.
OEMs and carriers must thoroughly test mobile devices and networks to ensure they operate seamlessly and efficiently on different networks and end-to-end network and device testing are increasingly important to assure optimal performance and interoperability. Network operators must constantly monitor, analyze and optimize network performance to ensure coverage and capacity and prevent costly customer churn.
Caliper works closely with major manufacturers of wireless mobile devices, chipsets and network equipment, mobile network operators, regulatory bodies, and the 3GPP to provide data collection, analysis, and optimization services based on in-depth sector knowledge and expertise and proprietary data analytics processes.
Managing the data crush
Modern smartphones spurred the onset of video-on-demand over the wireless network, crushing capacity and ushering in a new era of mobile network design and support. Skyrocketing mobile data traffic and consumption stressed network capacity and performance, driving the technology evolution from 2G to 5G systems that efficiently support data-rich applications. Today’s smartphones and tablets must carry low latency mobile video and gaming on increasingly crowded networks as consumers demand more capacity, faster download speeds, increased security and superb quality service at all times. Future IoT and automotive applications further foreshadow increasing networking signaling burden on already stressed networks.
Many carriers worldwide invested in complex network upgrades and capacity enhancements to meet growing consumer demand. Today, Asia and other emerging economies drive growth in mobile subscribers, smartphone adoption, and data traffic complexity. Huge opportunities remain for the industry as subscribers worldwide continue to upgrade to more powerful smartphones and 5G subscriptions. To meet this demand on the network, many mobile operators are deploying and enhancing 5G networks, and new 5G features such as IP Voice over New Radio (VoNR), EN-DC, Uplink MIMO, and mMIMO antenna configurations are becoming more common. Carriers are turning to Wi-Fi offloading to manage the crush of mobile subscribers competing for scarce network resources, driving the industry toward heterogeneous cellular-Wi-Fi networks and proposals to link Wi-Fi with cellular through LTE and NR in the Wi-Fi bands (LAA, NR-R, LTE-U) gaining ground in the 3GPP standards bodies.
LTE-A, 4.5G, and 5G on the horizon
3GPP and the wireless engineering community achieved remarkable capacity gains from existing RF spectrum deployments with the implementation of 5GNR, but 5G pushed up against Shannon’s Limit or the limitations on how many bits a given radio spectrum can transmit. In the future, advanced modulation techniques cannot be implemented to increase capacity or data throughput since 5G maxed out that capability. Considering 5GNR alone cannot support growing demands for data capacity, small cells offer the simplest path to progress through spatial multiplexing while the foundations are being set for 5G, the next-generation wireless system. While 5G remains an all-encompassing wish-list and is unlikely to deploy for many years yet, 3GPP engineers hope to improve spectrum and energy efficiency, battery life, security, latency, and QoE while reducing CAPEX and OPEX costs of the deployment in the new standard. The 3GPP 5G committee hopes to achieve this while working to accommodate hundreds of billions of devices for IOT/M2M/Automotive applications in the “Internet of Things” to form a truly connected world. Commercial 5G standards and deployments continue to evolve with Release 16, Release 17, Release 18 and potential new 6G constructs.
Improving the performance of existing networks and deploying future-proof features and capabilities require world-class data analysis to drive key network design and optimization decisions.
Our cutting-edge data harvesting, analytics, and reporting tools combine device-based collection with powerful data analytics and disciplined diagnostics capabilities in a scalable solution that helps streamline data aggregation and analysis processes by automating the processing chain to quickly capture, diagnose, and identify the root cause of network issues.
5G and LTE data collection is an integral part of how wireless carriers determine network performance. There are many ways to collect data; drive test systems, backpack “walk test” systems, CPE/UE-based data collection, and network-based data collection among others. Some carriers perform benchmark testing with UE devices that run on other operators’ networks while performing voice and data calls for perhaps 4-5 of the largest carriers in a given area in order to determine how an operator’s network measures up to the competition in a geographic area. Benchmark testing usually involves more devices than UE testing.
Caliper’s UE-based data collection devices provide data on performance and interactions with the network, reporting data to a cloud server for advanced analytics and data mining. Our modified handsets extract diagnostic data from the baseband platform and report back to our cloud server for analysis. Great care is taken to account for sources of interference such as in-building repeaters that improve cellular signals which may interfere with the network or environmental interferers such as fluorescent light fixtures that can generate strong interference signals.