From the beginning stages of LTE network deployment to the impending roll-out of 5G, we’ve observed a rather significant evolution in wireless network testing. Such testing has transformed from being data-collection and post-processing centric to being an automated solution that performs end-to-end (e2e) processes. In other words, data collection, remote management, and post processing are all contained in a single process flow (Fig. 1). An increase in urgency, complexity, capital expenditure (CAPEX)/operating expenditure (OPEX), and competition are a few of the drivers behind this evolution.
For example, distributed-antenna-system (DAS) installations and deployments typically require special permissions and limited time to access venues, making it critical to ensure that the turnaround time for system verification is quick and without glitches. On the macro-cell segment with pre-post launch optimization and site verifications, an engineer was traditionally required to monitor the drive test gear with another “coordinator,” controlling when and what types of test measurements needed to be made.
1. Measurements, post-processing, and remote managing and reporting all merge into one automated flow.
Minimizing Errors and Saving OPEX with Automation
Typically, tasks revolve around coordinators sending the different files to the drive test engineers; ensuring version compatibility; communicating start/stop times pertinent to maintenance windows; checking in real-time over phone or text on the progress; and managing measurement data. Typically, at this point, the coordinator transitions to interface with a “post-processing” team. This team provides information concerning measurement data availability for post-processing and tracking progress to ensure the report is received by pertinent personnel.