A brief look at two popular network testing devices, available now in the TEMS portfolio.
Control Functions on Samsung S7
As expected, Samsung revealed the Galaxy S7 at MWC 2016 in Barcelona. We were happy to simultaneously announce support in TEMS Investigation, just as we did with the S6 last year, beginning with the Galaxy S7 SM-G930 and a handful of other S7 models added as connectable devices. Similar to earlier Galaxy S-models, we're expecting a wide range of S7 variants, each tailored for individual operators.
We're especially excited to announce support for advanced cell forcing features, sometimes also called control functions, on the European Samsung Galaxy S7. These functions include locking to RAT, band, channel and cell for GSM, WCDMA and LTE. Control functions are available on S7 devices running Samsung's own proprietary chipset, Shannon. InfoVista is currently the only vendor in the market that supports these valuable features.
So Many Models — Why Does it Matter Which One I Choose?
The trend, which started with the Samsung S3 and which came in 20-25 different models, does not seem to change with the S7. From a network quality assurance perspective it's important to understand how each model is different. Besides operator branding and Android customization, the models can also support different network features, e.g. 2- or 3-Carrier Aggregation, fast dormancy, etc., depending on what the operator has deployed or is planning to deploy.
If we look back a few years ago, a key difference between LTE devices was the number of supported frequency bands. This is less of an issue now, with some phones supporting as many as 10-20 LTE bands, but for LTE-A Carrier Aggregation this is still an issue, since each CA pair needs to be explicitly supported by the device, greatly increasing the number of band combinations to choose from, as not all devices support them.
Another important differentiating factor is VoLTE, where the IMS client for each device is tuned for specific networks. Having to re-configure the IMS client for a different network, a non-trivial task where you can end up troubleshooting the device rather than your network, is gradually becoming less of a need. As an example, some devices store a number of different VoLTE IMS profiles and are able to select the appropriate one depending on the current network. This will continue to improve as VoLTE roaming and inter-operability matures, but for now it's an important take-away for anyone who is not able to access VoLTE test devices tuned to their network. Thankfully InfoVista has ways to work around this, either with our TEMS Sony Z5 which has a configurable VoLTE client, or simply eliminating the handset entirely.
The S6/S6 Edge models were a mix of Qualcomm's baseband chipset and Samsung's homegrown chip, depending on the market and operator. The S7 seems to follow the same pattern, with Qualcomm (primarily MSM8996) in devices for the America market and Samsung's own chipset used in devices in Europe and Asia.
TEMS Sony Z5 — The New King of Forcing Features
TEMS Sony devices are a breed apart. Besides the default forcing features supported by the chipset, InfoVista is also able to develop our own forcing features, features that nobody has been able to replicate for decades and that continue to save precious time and resources for users world wide. While the default forcing features provided by the chipset manufacturer are often intended for lab use, ours are tailored for the purpose of network optimization and troubleshooting in the field.
The successor to the TEMS Sony Z3, the TEMS Sony Z5 is no different, supporting, for example:
- IR.92 VoLTE client which can be customized to work in a specific network
- RAT/band/cell lock LTE, GSM, WCDMA
- GSM multi-lock and cell prevention*
- GSM/WCDMA cell barred-control*
- Voice codec control*
- Access Class control*
* denotes features unique to TEMS Sony devices
Part of a Tiered Approach
InfoVista's tiered device integration model enables both fast start up and feature-rich troubleshooting. By using a staged deployment of test & monitoring capabilities for our devices we can both achieve short time-to-market and advanced testing features, depending on the specific needs of a global market.
- 1. Entry — Quick availability for the fast start up of technology deployment and verification. Support for the device in the TEMS portfolio is often coordinated with device commercial availability from the device manufacturer or operator (and sometimes even before!).
- 2. Standard & Advanced — Advanced TEMS functionality, e.g. forcing features, AQM or specific traces, added to entry level device to enhance testing even further.
- 3. Automated — Device supported for unattended or attended 24Ã—7 test and monitoring.
These were just two highlights from our recent product enhancements, and we're continuously adding support for new devices for infrastructure vendors, operators and service providers around the world. If you're looking for a specific device model or network feature to test, don't hesitate to contact us.