Woman looking at abstract graphic overlay reports

A day in the life of a mobile operator’s 5G network lab testing team

Gavin Hayhurst
May. 30 2023

When you think of 5G labs, it’s easy to imagine teams of university researchers working to define the future of mobile communications. Or maybe it’s network equipment manufacturers developing the next generation of kit for emerging standards or new spectrum bands. You think ‘lab’, you naturally think innovation.

But the role of ‘the lab’ goes far beyond this whitecoat-wearing, blue sky-thinking, airlocked room. It is central to whether the latest and greatest network equipment does what it says on the tin when deployed in a live 5G network.

The journey to a deployed and optimized 5G network begins long before the first sites are rolled out and verified. Instead, it starts in the operator’s test bed network, and it is the lab testing team that is at the sharp end.

What does a 5G lab testing team do?

The challenge for the lab testing team is how to test and approve new network equipment and software releases and new features before they are deployed in the live network. The multi-vendor, multi-mode, multi-service nature of today’s mobile networks means there are innumerable parameters and test criteria that must be fulfilled.

What role does network testing play in 5G testbed networks?

Network testing has a central part to play in an operator’s 5G deployment strategy, and this meant introducing next-generation testing capabilities at the very beginning. After all – it’s called a testbed network for a reason!

Get this lab testing right, and problems can be identified and resolved before they have an opportunity to impact the performance of the network – saving you both time and cost later.

By connecting the new network equipment in the lab, your lab team can verify, optimize and troubleshoot every new software patch, function and feature – before it goes live in your network. By undertaking software upgrade verification and new feature validation in the testbed network, you can deploy new network elements with confidence.

But to make this happen, you need your network testing partner to have ongoing and close cooperation with equipment vendors, chipset manufacturers and device vendors. This means your lab team can not only test how the new equipment and software interoperates with other existing network elements, they can also ensure that they will work with all the major new devices – including the latest iPhones.

This allows them to better understand the customer experience that the network will be capable of delivering, and to verify, optimize and troubleshoot their 5G mobile network in a controlled lab environment, so when the baton is handed on to the network deployment team, it is done so smoothly and with confidence.

What makes a great network testing solution for 5G testbed networks?

Reliable 5G network testing is built upon the ability to verify, optimize, and troubleshoot in the lab. 
Reducing the time-to-market of your 5G network requires: 

  1. efficient lab testing, 
  2. initial tuning
  3. cluster acceptance, 
  4. and network troubleshooting capabilities  

To avoid unnecessary delays in your network roll-out, you need a drive testing solution that enables you to undertake software upgrade verification and new feature validation in the lab.

That’s where TEMS™ Investigation comes in. For over 25 years, TEMS™ products have been recognized as the leading network testing solutions by mobile network operators and vendors worldwide – from the lab to the live network, at every stage of the deployment process.

Through our partnerships with device and chipset vendors, we support the latest technologies, features and devices your customers are using. New capabilities added in TEMS Investigation 25.0 include: 

  • Support for the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset-based devices including the Samsung Galaxy S23 series
  • Strengthened OTT testing with the addition of remote meeting application testing for Microsoft Teams and Zoom
  • Per antenna measurements for 5G enabling detailed analysis of MIMO antenna systems
  • Dedicated monitors to provide a detailed overview of session statistics and handset capabilities

A final thought

Your lab team have a critical role to play in your 5G roll-out. Get network testing right at this very first stage, and you can not only reliably test and improve your subscriber quality of experience, but you can also accelerate your 5G roll-out and gain a competitive edge.

In our next blog in this ‘Day in the life’ series, we’ll take a look at the role of your Network deployment team and how they can effectively and efficiently manage the complexity and scale of 5G networks. To get a sneak peek, why not read this extended case study of how a major European mobile operator has confronted the challenges of rolling out its nationwide 5G network. You will discover how both the customer’s organization as a whole, and specific teams, successfully overcame their challenges using innovative network testing solutions.

More helpful pages: