Viavi Solutions has announced its CellAdvisor Base Station Analyzer will support the signal analysis required for narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) connectivity. Available immediately, this capability – which Viavi believes is the first of its kind in the industry – meets the needs of service providers for immediate testing for the overlay IoT infrastructure that must co-exist seamlessly with the traditional mobile communications network.
Viavi is introducing this upgrade following successful trials with Tier-1 global service providers and collaborations with major network equipment manufacturers.
The IoT will ultimately enable billions of smart devices to maintain low-speed and low-latency connections to mobile communications networks via narrowband signals. These networks will simultaneously need to support high-bandwidth applications such as video streaming using wideband signals, setting up an inherent tension between these usage models. Network operators are seeking solutions to help manage these disparate types of connections while maintaining the required quality of experience for each, and minimising the need to invest in new equipment.
In response, Viavi has developed software-based NB-IoT testing that can be installed as a license on existing CellAdvisor handheld instruments, which are trusted by several major carriers worldwide. The addition of this feature in software further enhances CellAdvisor as a comprehensive solution for the market, offering RF over CPRI and BBU emulation in addition to LTE testing and automated interference hunting to help maximise efficiency of technicians while visiting cell sites.
With NB-IoT support, CellAdvisor measures the interference and performance impact the NB-IoT signal may have on the LTE wideband signal. It also confirms whether the signal has the reach and coverage required to serve the number of devices in the assigned geographic area, taking into account considerations such as building penetration. Comprehensive analysis includes signal power levels, digital demodulation analysis and interference analysis down to the single PRB (Physical Resource Block) for the signal under measurement. These detailed measurements provide customers with a full picture of how well the network is operating in terms of performance, coverage and data traffic capacity, while identifying potential issues related to interference or intermodulation that need to be resolved.
“While much of the focus in the mobile communications industry is on 5G, our carrier and network equipment manufacturer customers are also deep into planning IoT services,” said Kevin Oliver, Vice President and General Manager, Converged Instruments and Virtual Test, Viavi Solutions. “Their research is exploring groundbreaking new applications for mobile connectivity, and we are pleased to be able to offer them relevant test solutions which do not require them to slow down their core activities.”