Absolute Analysis News

Telecom RRH/BBU Testing Journal

Technical Corner

Radio Head Bringup Testing Was Never Easier.

Most installation teams face a similar problem. The radio head installation team arrive on-site and spend time erecting the radio head at the top of the tower. Then along comes the network team and couple the radio head to the network, and suddenly there's a problem. The RRH erection team are called back along with field engineers and endeavor to diagnose the issue: maybe even replace the head. How much simpler would it be if initial bringup tests could be performed at installation. A recent estimate from one network operator was that each site visit and debug session costs at least $10,000.

That's no small problem. That's where the new Investigator CPRI Slave Compliance Test Suite can help. The Test Suite runs on the Absolute Analysis Investigator Test System. Using Investigator’s ability to not only generate CPRI downlink traffic, but also to decode the responses on the uplink, the Test Suite can be used to determine protocol compliance and to debug areas of non-compliance.

Over 400 Test Cases are included in the Test Suite and user’s can select to run the entire set, or to run only a subset of Test Cases that correspond to the capabilities of the Slave device.

Customers have told us that test automation is a key requirement for them. Now equipment manufacturers can spend less time with integration testing, reducing costs and speeding time to deployment.

To accommodate individual vendor innovation there is also the flexibility to customize the Test Suite to handle vendor specific features. This will allow BBU manufacturers, Radio Access Network (RAN) system integrators and Operators to roll out standardized tests to all their vendors, saving both time and money by minimizing interoperability issues during integration testing.

4G/LTE Industry News

Africa Now Fastest Growing Cell Phone Market in the World!

One thing that really hits you when visiting the poorer parts of Africa, is the prominence of mobile phone usage. At first, this technology that you associate so closely with the eighties ‘yuppy’ culture seems completely out of place here.

But over the last few years, the penetration of mobile phones into the populations of Africa has been astounding. Africa is currently the fastest growing cell phone market in the world, and it is second only to Asia. A recent report from the World Bank stated that the continent has more than 600 million subscribers.

This rapid increase in mobile phones usage could be down to the shortage of fixed phone lines in the continent overall, especially in rural areas far from the bigger cities. Whilst smartphones are increasing in popularity, the majority of cell phones on the continent are still older and more basic models, but even these have significantly better general communications ability than phones from even a few years back. Most have internet access and it's now common to see people checking their Facebook pages seemingly in the most unlikely places.

We have always known that access to information has been important to citizens in developing countries. Companies and individuals are leveraging off this and are using innovative ways through interaction and engagement, to connect with people. This connected citizenry use mobile text services like WhatsApp, BiNu or Saya, transfer money and pay for goods via mobile wallet services. They access health information and services, and look up valuable agricultural market data.

It's easy to view Africa as a huge technological wasteland, but the truth is significantly different. African countries in general are climbing the good governance ratings with Nigeria now challenging South Africa for the highest GDP. These new thrusting business centers need good communications over wide areas, and the service providers aren't slow in realizing the number of subscribers clamoring for their services. Maybe it'll take a few years for the type of demand for mobile services we see in countries like South Korea, but all bets are off on where Africa will be in five years time.

Decoding the Payload

One of the core features of Absolute Analysis' Investigator test systems is the Protocol Database. You don't necessarily notice it in normal operation, but there it is, working away in the background. So what exactly is it?

The Protocol Database is fundamental to the way Investigator decodes link data before it is presented to the Trace Viewer. Raw data comes into the database and is broken down layer by layer until the values present in all the frame fields are available for viewing.

But it doesn't stop there. The Protocol Database is present throughout the product, and shows up in the triggers and filters, the protocol tree view as well as in search terms.

But the true power of the Protocol Database is revealed when you use the Protocol Database Editor to change or add to the protocols already present. This is especially true to Aerospace and Defense oriented protocols like Serial Front Port Data Port (serFPDP) and Fibre Channel Avionics Environment (FC-AE). With these protocols the frame structure is defined in the protocol specification, but the payload is open to interpretation. Many times the way the data payload is used varies between manufacturers and is therefore clad in security restrictions. The Protocol Database Editor allows companies to break out and decode the payload, while keeping the database and decodes locked away.

This is a unique feature, and one that supports not just national defense requirements, but a company's natural desire to keep R&D projects close to their chests.