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Test and Measurement: AT&T cut network latency in past 16 months, says OpenSignal

OpenSignal data analysis showed that AT&T went from fourth to first in network latency

Although AT&T wasn’t a big winner in LTE speed or availability in its most recent assessment of U.S. mobile network data speeds, the carrier made notable improvements in the latency of its network, according to OpenSignal. AT&T won the network latency category in that analysis of device-based testing data.

“Our latency metric tends not to get as much attention as speed or availability, but it is becoming an important measure of the overall mobile network experience,” wrote OpenSignal analyst Peter Boyland in a recent blog entry. “Every time you click a link, press play on a video, or feint left in multiplayer mobile game, your device generates a data request, which must traverse the network, querying a server for content. The time it takes for that request to reach its destination and a response to be returned is the latency of the network. The lower the latency score, the better. … And as U.S. mobile consumers begin to move away from Wi-Fi and rely more on cellular networks, lower latency is more vital than ever.”

Just 16 months ago, OpenSignal said, AT&T had the slowest LTE latency among the four national carriers — around 64 milliseconds. But the carrier’s network has significantly trimmed its latency since then.

“During the latter half of 2017, AT&T recorded major improvements in its latency experience that saw it jump from last to first place in our 4G latency metric, which could indicate improvements in its network architecture,” Boyland wrote. “And our results show AT&T is extending this lead, as its 4G latency has improved by nearly 10 ms over the past year to reach 54 ms in our March-May 2018 test period – over 1.5 ms better than its closest rival T-Mobile, 8 ms ahead of Verizon and a whole 10 ms clear of Sprint in our results.”

Read more on OpenSignal’s analysis of latency in carrier networks here. 

In other test news:

CableLabs hosted the first CBRS Alliance interoperability test event at its Louisville, Colorado facility this week. The testing focused on testing interactions between 3.5 GHz access points and Spectrum Access Systems which enable the tiered spectrum-sharing arrangement in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service band. The event “is an important prerequisite for commercialization of the 3.5GHz band expected later this year,” CBRS Alliance said.

-Mobile networks held up well, overall, in the recent hurricane that affected Hawaii. According to a series of Federal Communications Commission reports, Hurricane Lane had “minimal effect” on communications and only eight cell sites were reported as out of service out of more than 1,200 across the five counties that make up Hawaii.

Anritsu has launched two software packages that add sub-6 GHz 5G New Radio testing capabilities for chipsets, devices and systems to its Universal Wireless Test Set MT8870A. One package is for 5G NR TDD uplink measurement and the other for downlink waveforms. Anritsu noted that since the test set’s mainframe already supports frequencies up to 6 GHz and 160 MHz of bandwidth, no additional hardware is needed to test sub-6 GHz 5G NR.

National Technical Systems has built out additional test capabilities for printed circuit boards at its Anaheim, California lab. That lab is already a leader in micro-sectional analysis to test PCB integrity, NTS said, and the new grinding and polishing systems for specimen preparation will double the facility’s testing capability.

NTS noted that its Anaheim lab, one of more than two dozen labs, focuses on electronics and material conformance, qualification and reliability testing for commercial, automotive, military/aerospace, and medical markets. The lab also recently added a chamber to test extreme hot/cold temperatures and pressures to ensure the integrity of material and components used in space applications.

NTS announced the official opening of its new corporate center in Anaheim earlier this month, which consolidates several offices in the region into one space for corporate functions such as finance, procurement and IT.

NetMotion Software has made upgrades to its Mobile Operational Intelligence platform to optimize voice-over-IP applications such as Skype, add security to enforce device-wide Virtual Private Network use on supervised iOS devices and more flexible cryptography; provie new analytics capabilities and visual assessments; and improve configurability, management and support.

“A growing number of mobile users depend on streaming and other real-time apps,” said Christopher Kenessey, CEO of NetMotion, in a statement. “This combined with increasing congestion on Wi-Fi and cellular networks can significantly degrade quality.”

NetMotion focuses on solving those quality issues with software that provides, among other features, packet loss recovery to maintain streaming sessions over unsteady connections.

Tektronix recently added new features to its live and video-on-demand cloud video monitoring offerings, including picture quality analysis for multiple live video streams simultaneously; and cloud-based validation and monitoring of 4K high-definition video streams. Tektronix is using cloud-based pricing options for its video quality assurance offerings. Tektronix also has expanded its Prism hybrid monitoring portfolio with a 10G operations unit and an upgrade path to 25G for all of its Prism line.

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