New Cat­a­lysts at Work

The gran­u­lar QoS needs of to­day’s app and smartphone-savvy users are driv­ing de­mand for more so­phis­ti­cated test sets

Voice&Data - - CONTENT -

The test and mea­sure­ment (T&M) segment is fi­nally see­ing signs of re­ceiv­ing the at­ten­tion that has mostly eluded it. At least two key fac­tors are likely to make that hap­pen: one, an apps-driven mo­bile data growth is rais­ing the bar for user ex­pe­ri­ence; and two, the tele­com reg­u­la­tor is try­ing to en­sure that the ser­vice qual­ity bench­marks are treated in a more sacro­sanct man­ner than they have been so far.

These twin fac­tors alone have the po­ten­tial to rede­fine the way stake­hold­ers in the tele­com ser­vice and sup­ply chains ap­proach their in­vest­ments in T&M. These stake­hold­ers in­clude, but are not lim­ited to the tel­cos themselves; the net­work in­fra­struc­ture ven­dors which also are the tele­com man­aged ser­vice providers; the var­i­ous in­te­gra­tion and field test­ing part­ners; and the grow­ing tribe of hand­set as well as tele­com equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers in In­dia.

New QoS needs

While there has been a con­tin­ued growth in the mo­bile sub­scriber base in In­dia, the ser­vice providers have not been able to keep pace on the in­fra­struc­ture de­ploy­ment front, on ac­count

of var­i­ous rea­sons out­side the purview of this segment anal­y­sis. As a re­sult, qual­ity of ser­vice (QoS) is­sues have at times got es­ca­lated to the ex­tent that the sec­tor reg­u­la­tor and even the erst­while tele­com min­is­ter got in­volved.

In a re­cent re­port, Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory of Author­ity (TRAI) crit­i­cized tel­cos for not meet­ing call drop bench­marks. The tele­com body ob­served that most of the tele­com op­er­a­tors bar­ring a few, failed to meet call drop bench­marks in Delhi, where a test drive was done to as­cer­tain the qual­ity of mo­bile ser­vices. The reg­u­la­tory body even asked for more pow­ers so that it may im­pose penal­ties on the erring firms.

Some of the lead­ing tel­cos have re­sponded pos­i­tively by step­ping up their in­vest­ments in the net­works. This in­cluded in­creased ef­forts to im­prove the sig­nal qual­ity and to bet­ter cal­i­brate the var­i­ous net­work equip­ment and el­e­ments as per the avail­abil­ity and qual­ity of net­work and spec­trum re­sources in a given tele­com ser­vice area.

More­over, as the num­ber of smart­phones on the net­work grows, so does the us­age of a wide range of mo­bile apps. Now, this in­tro­duces a QoS re­quire­ment for the net­work which is very dif­fer­ent from the erst­while era when ap­pli­ca­tions were mostly voice- and SMS-based and the de­vices were mostly fea­ture phones. This is sim­ply be­cause not all apps are made equal, which means that they also have dif­fer­ent ex­pec­ta­tions from the net­work when it comes to de­liv­er­ing the user ex­pe­ri­ence that they were de­signed to de­liver.

In other words, the net­work now needs to be cal­i­brated to meet the dif­fer­ing needs of var­i­ous apps (as op­posed to the ear­lier days when it suf­ficed to meet the QoS re­quire­ments for voice and SMS, mostly that is). Clearly, the QoS game has changed now, and the T&M equip­ment and skillset re­quire­ments are much more so­phis­ti­cated as well.

To add to the com­plex­ity, the num­ber of co-ex­ist­ing net­works has also gone up. Ser­vice providers need to test the var­i­ous mo­bile de­vices, also on mul­ti­ple net­works such as 2G, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, LTE, LTE-A, Wi-Fi, and so on. T&M is no longer an area where even a small com­pro­mise would do.

Ven­dors in the fray

The key T&M ven­dors in In­dia in­clude Keysight Tech­nolo­gies, Ro­hde & Sch­warz, An­ritsu, Na­tional In­stru­ments, Tek­tronix, Yoko­gawa In­dia, Spirent Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, among oth­ers.

Keysight Tech­nolo­gies: It re­vamped its equip­ment re­newal pro­gram to pro­vide ex­panded op­por­tu­ni­ties for its cus­tomers to up­grade equip­ment. Some of the no­table test sets of­fered by Keysight in­clude the EXM, UXM and Field Fox ranges. The com­pany is po­si­tion­ing the EXM test sets for man­u­fac­tur­ing; UXM for de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing of 4G, 8960 for 3G ser­vices and Field Fox for in­stal­la­tion and main­te­nance of RF prod­ucts. On the LTE-A front, the com­pany was re­port­edly work­ing pri­mar­ily with chipset ven­dors dur­ing the year.

Ro­hde & Sch­warz: The Ger­many­based com­pany is an­other im­por­tant player in the T&M space. Its core com­pe­tency has al­ways been on pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cally ad­vanced so­lu­tions cater­ing to the dif­fer­ent seg­ments of the mar­ket, be it R&D, cal­i­bra­tion, pro­duc­tion or main­te­nance. The com­pany’s lat­est port­fo­lio of so­lu­tions boasts of prod­ucts which are low on capex but high on qual­ity and ex­pand­abil­ity.

The com­pany re­cently in­tro­duced its SmartMon­i­tor so­lu­tion for real-time, ser­vice qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing, which the com­pany claims can be ac­com­plished on a plug-and-play ba­sis. As part of its of­fer­ings to tap into the op­por­tu­ni­ties that have emerged from the LTE deployment­s, Ro­hde&Sch­warz launched a con­for­mance test­ing so­lu­tion for LTE-U. The com­pany said it also sup­ports 4×4 mul­ti­ple-in­put, mul­ti­ple-out­put test­ing with its new Romes drive test­ing plat­form, which is also in­te­grated with the newly an­nounced Sam­sung Galaxy S7 smart­phones.

The com­pany has over 9,000 em­ploy­ees glob­ally and re­cently appointed Chris­tian Le­icher as its new global CEO.

Na­tional In­stru­ments (NI): NI has an­nounced an early ac­cess tech­nol­ogy plat­form for time-sen­si­tive net­work­ing, and would be work­ing with the In­dus­trial In­ter­net Con­sor­tium and sev­eral net­work­ing and chipset big­wigs, in­clud­ing Cisco, Bosch Rexroth and In­tel, on a new

time-based test bed for IoT net­works.

Oth­ers: An­ritsu has taken a sig­nif­i­cant step by col­lab­o­rat­ing with Qual­comm to demon­strate 1 gi­ga­bit per sec­ond through­put speeds us­ing the lat­ter’s Snap­dragon X16 mo­dem, lever­ag­ing three com­po­nent car­rier ag­gre­ga­tion, 4×4 MIMO and 256 quad­ra­ture am­pli­tude mod­u­la­tion.

Tek­tronix too is ex­pand­ing its base in the coun­try. The com­pany’s prod­ucts and ser­vices are used in var­i­ous ap­pli­ca­tions in di­ver­si­fied in­dus­tries like computing, em­bed­ded sys­tems de­sign, RF test­ing, and video test­ing, among oth­ers.

Look­ing ahead

In­dia is ex­pected to be­come the sec­ond­largest mar­ket for smart­phones, af­ter China, go­ing for­ward. This on­go­ing surge in smart­phones is ex­pected to fur­ther drive the de­mand for wire­less test equip­ment.

Also, as tel­cos will con­tinue to mi­grate from 3G to 4G net­works, the de­mand for T&M equip­ment will con­tinue to be there, as tel­cos would be in­vest­ing sig­nif­i­cantly in im­prov­ing their net­work qual­ity and en­hanc­ing their cov­er­age.

The op­por­tu­nity in the hand­sets man­u­fac­tur­ing segment is also likely to in­crease as play­ers such as Sam­sung, Mi­cro­max, In­tex, Kar­bonn and Lava grow their lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­i­ties. While hand­sets man­u­fac­tur­ing in In­dia is still mostly lim­ited to assem­bly of semi­knocked down com­po­nents, the de­gree of so­phis­ti­ca­tion is ex­pected to rise in fu­ture as hand­set ven­dors move closer to fuller-scale man­u­fac­tur­ing within the coun­try.

Lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing of tele­com in­fra­struc­ture equip­ment is also see­ing some tail­winds, thanks to the Make in In­dia pro­gram, cou­pled with de­mand­side ac­cel­er­a­tors like Smart Ci­ties and the wider gamut of Dig­i­tal In­dia pro­grams. While gear-mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties are not as easy to come by as the hand­set mak­ing ones, there still have been pock­ets of de­vel­op­ment.

Eric­s­son has long been present in In­dia, and has man­u­fac­tur­ing units in Jaipur, Pune and Hy­der­abad, among oth­ers. The Swedish gear maker is also ex­pand­ing into man­u­fac­tur­ing of other data net­work­ing equip­ment for en­ter­prise net­works and data cen­ters. Nokia’s in­vest­ments in tele­com man­u­fac­tur­ing are rel­a­tively more con­cen­trated in its Chen­nai plant.

Huawei’s Sripe­rum­budur unit has been man­u­fac­tur­ing equip­ment for ex­ports to China, Asia Pa­cific re­gion and the Mid­dle East. Its re­quest for a Do­mes­tic Tar­iff Area (DTA) sta­tus to cater to do­mes­tic mar­ket was also cleared, which paves the way to fur­ther step up lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Though in early stages at present, in­ter­net of things and ma­chine-to-ma­chine net­works are also ex­pected to drive a long-term growth for the T&M segment in the coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.