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Ixia takes a carrier-centric approach to Wi-Fi testing


17/10/2011

More on this Topic Industry News Blogs Briefing Room

Ixia is moving out of the lab and into the field with a new testing product designed to make sense of the newest radio in carriers’ arsenal: Wi-Fi.

Operators are increasingly relying on Wi-Fi offload nodes to augment their mobile broadband networks, but according to Ixia they lack the tools to measure its performance. Typical site survey tools measure only access point signal strength, but they don’t evaluate how applications run on the network, said Joe Zeto, senior manager of market development for Ixia.

“We’re introducing a new methodology that will guarantee a good quality of experience,” Zeto said. “Wi-Fi not only has to be available, it has to be carrier-grade. Wi-Fi is going from a mere convenience to carriers putting their most valuable customers at stake.”

Ixia has developed a series of software tools, collectively known as IxVeriWave. That software is then embedded in smartphone, tablet and PC clients, which use the devices’ hardware to not only test the availability and range of Wi-Fi access points and clusters, but also validates how specific applications perform. An Ixia app could test for mere throughput, but it could also see how VoIP, video streaming, video chat or any other carrier or third-party app work over any given access point. Each app is then scored on Ixia’s rating scales. Operators use those scores as benchmarks to determine whether an offload point meets its internal standards or the service level agreements it extends to its customers.

Ixia has already put IxVeriWave to the test in the United Arab Emirates, using it to evaluate carrier Wi-Fi performance in the Dubai World Trade Center, a 1-million-square-foot facility that hosts 1.4 million people a year. In addition to offering Wi-Fi as an access technology, the Trade Center is reselling capacity to operators to supplement their 3G and future LTE networks.

Zeto said making the distinction between offload and access has become key for operators as different performance expectations for each use case have emerged. While people are used to network jams and lack of coverage when using Wi-Fi access—particularly free Wi-Fi—mobile subscribers see offload as an extension of their mobile data services. In many cases, they don’t see “Wi-Fi” at all, unaware that they’re roaming between the cellular and local area networks. The expectation, Zeto said, is their smartphones will perform just as well on either network.



 

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