LTE to challenge test equipment vendors

September 19, 2011 // By Colin Holland
The growth of the wireless communication market has a ripple effect on the wireless test equipment market, as increased mobility and internet access through mobile phones are expected to raise the demand for wireless test equipment solutions. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan on the world wireless test equipment market has found that the market earned revenues of $2.79 billion in 2010 and estimates this number to exceed $ 5.81 billion in 2017.

The research examines a number of markets such as mobile station testers, base station testers, drive testers, mobile backhaul test equipment, and wireless core test equipment.Higher mobile data usage creates more traffic on the network, leading to increased demand to test for quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE). Educating service providers (SPs) about the importance of testing and monitoring and its impact on QoE and customer churn is crucial to improve the uptake of test equipment.

"Enhanced data usage also triggers transmission pipeline-related technology changes, such as conversion from copper to optical technologies," said Frost & Sullivan Program Manager Olga Yashkova. "Such transition creates new opportunities for testing one gigabit (GB) per second, 10GB, 40GB, and 100GB pipelines."New technologies has thrown up numerous interoperability issues for SPs.

As the number of devices supplied by different vendors' increases, protocol management will become more complicated.In the absence of a separate signaling or session framework, interoperability testing (IOT) has to be performed at every existing node when a new element or software load is placed in service. These activities are time and resource intensive, with costs increasing in proportion to the number of tests that have to be performed.

To avoid these hurdles, SPs prefer to work with fewer vendors.Frost & Sullivan says that one of the possible solutions to service providers testing concerns is multiple input and multiple output (MIMO) technology, which is a significant component of air interface test equipment. As the industry shifts from 2X2 MIMO to 4X4 MIMO or 8X8 MIMO, testing will become increasingly tough.Even though MIMO has several unique testing challenges due to its complexity, it presents numerous opportunities for wireless test equipment vendors.

"It will be a while before the market experiences optimal performance from MIMO implementation," notes Yashkova. "Nevertheless, the demand for higher data and bandwidth will force the industry to find more spectrums, and that, in turn, will prompt the higher