Mobile operators worldwide rushing to migrate from 2G and 3G services to 4G technologies must optimise their Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband network. Once LTE is deployed, operators must initiate network engineering plans for the integration and overlay of voice over LTE (VoLTE) functionality to free up the valuable spectrum still consumed by 2G and 3G voice services to re-farm that spectrum for LTE.
Chris Taylor, Regional Sales Director - Asia Pacific - HATA Region for Fluke Networks explains that one critical area of concern is testing and troubleshooting the network on deployment. Prior to LTE and VoLTE, troubleshooting via signalling tests was the standard mode of operation. The advent of true mobile broadband services has raised the bar for network engineers, especially those whose experience has primarily been within the mobile communications silo. New knowledge, skillsets and equipment are vital to quickly and effectively mitigate service issues.
LTE and VoLTE provide customers with a quantum leap in their user experience. Wireless customers are experiencing better service levels and broader coverage as networks are deployed. The data rates of LTE are far superior to 3G rates, translating into customers using more applications and services that depend on the higher speeds.
Mobile data and voice communications customers are dependent upon the flexibility wireless devices provide to both the enterprise and personal use sectors. Mobile broadband users continue to demonstrate an ever-expanding appetite for more interactive connectivity whether streaming video, online gaming, opting in for push notifications or any of the myriad applications encouraging them to keep their devices always on.
According to Taylor, meeting customer demands is the cornerstone of a financially sustainable mobile broadband business. Optimisation of an LTE network results in an immediate and positive financial impact to the operator, both directly and indirectly.
He adds LTE and VoLTE networks however, help operators effectively meet their customers’ demands and benefit from enhanced revenue stream only if there is sufficient network coverage within the service market and if the network operator is capable of quickly resolving user experience issues and restore optimum service.
Fluke Networks offers advice for network engineers to resolve LTE and VoLTE data and voice problems to meet and exceed customers’ expectations.
The critical traits required of troubleshooting equipment that handles problems and accomplishes the goal of always on are connect; capture; identify; and solve. The traits can be identified by four functional capabilities.
The test equipment must be scalable to effectively handle the operator’s load requirements.
Network engineers must be able to immediately and clearly see packet-level metrics when problems arise and be able to know exactly where the gaps are in the communications channel.
The equipment must be constructed to quickly and also cost-effectively be transported to the specified location no matter what the conditions and when it is needed.
The equipment must be easy for field technicians to operate, yet provide the comprehensive capture and analysis required by more skilled engineering personnel usually located far from the testing site.