4G networks: How they’re tested
At 10:30 in the morning a few weeks ago I hopped into a plain white van, a mysterious briefcase carefully laid out on the passenger’s seat abuzz with phones.
Into the afternoon, the driver answered my probing questions about long hours on the road, awkward run-ins with the cops, and flashed guns. This was no police surveillance ride along; my driver was merely sharing a day in the life of an independent cell phone network tester.
A few miles away from Microsoft, a small company called RootMetrics (formerly Root Wireless) sends out a tiny squadron of testers — called scouts — to independently test carrier networks, and they do it using little more than a Garmin GPS unit and a briefcase full of phones.
Inside the briefcase, one phone per carrier runs through the battery of tests. Every 5 minutes, the phone tracks calls, upload and download speeds, and texting. After the weeklong-testing period (or longer,) RootMetrics crunches the data. Twice a year, the company compiles a larger report on the health of each network around the country.
Together, the scouts that form the backbone of the operation clock 20,000 hours of testing and calculate information from 100,000,000 data points in a single year. The bottom line: network testing is serious stuff. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the voice … [Read more]
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