Mark Donahue Mark Donahue is an associate editor for Telephony magazine. Previously, he worked in The Associated Press’ Chicago bureau, as well as two trade publications. He graduated from...more

Archive for April 1st, 2009

Gain Cost Efficiencies by Brining in the Real World in the Wireless Test Lab

Wireless operators and manufacturers traditionally rely on fleets of drivers to perform mobile field testing, also referred to as drive testing, to verify the operational and performance capabilities of mobile devices and services. This approach is neither repeatable nor cost-efficient.  

With flexible ‘Virtual Drive Test’ and ‘Fading Lab’ features mobile operators and device vendors can deliver cost efficiencies over field testing. At CTIA Wireless 2009, Spirent is unveiling new Virtual Drive Test and Fading Lab functionality on Spirent’s SR5500 Wireless Channel Emulator, the award-winning solution for wireless receiver performance testing. 

Virtual Drive Test allows rapid re-creation of RF conditions to bring real-world field testing of mobile devices into the lab. Fading Lab enables the creation or replay of highly-detailed, advanced radio environments from a wide range of data sources.  

“Virtual Drive Test reduces the amount of physical field testing required in a product’s life cycle resulting in significant cost savings,” said Rob VanBrunt, vice president of Spirent’s CDMA and Physical Layer market segment. “It also offers some clear technical advantages over field testing, enabling the same precise scenario to be repeated across multiple test runs, eliminating much of the uncertainty inherent to field testing.” 

Virtual Drive Test uses Spirent’s exclusive Dynamic Environment Emulation (DEE) feature to provide a more rigorous and sustainable alternative. Virtual Drive Test generates a set of controlled dynamic RF channels based on channel parameter data. Complex radio mobility scenarios can be created without deploying scores of vans, and the RF environment remains consistent between test iterations. 

 Spirent’s new Fading Lab supplements the SR5500’s existing real-time engine with a new “Fading Data Playback” engine. The Fading Lab engine converts data into a sample-accurate wireless RF environment. The Fading Lab’s universal interface accepts data from a wide range of sources including channel-sounding tools and software packages. Virtually any mathematical or ray-tracing software package can be used to synthesize the input data, as can custom software packages or scripts. The text-based template allows the user to create any customized fading model imaginable. 

“For wireless operators and device manufacturers, the Spirent SR5500 has been there to eliminate the risk of missing a critical RF issue.” added VanBrunt. “Now Fading Lab’s flexibility eliminates the risk of running up against a channel model your equipment can’t address.” 

The Fading Lab includes Fading Studio, a software package that creates advanced channel scenarios for testing MIMO and other multiple-antenna systems. These already include Spatial Channel Models (SCMs/SCMEs), with models defined by the European Wireless World Initiative New Radio (WINNER) consortium to follow shortly. 

Demonstrations of the Spirent SR5500 and the company’s wide range of other wireless device, application and infrastructure testing solutions will be showcased at Booth #744 at CTIA Wireless 2009, April 1-3 in Las Vegas. For more information visit  

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