Mobile test equipment moves from van to motorbike to navigate London traffic

Livingston is providing ATS-Group with the hardware and software needed to enable a more streamlined approach for testing the performance of mobile communications networks (commonly known as drive testing). ATS-Group has been contracted by a leading mobile operator to execute drive tests across the whole of London, for analysis of base stations now being deployed to serve the nation’s capital and combat the growing issue of wireless congestion.

Normally this type of testing has to be executed via equipment that is housed in vans. However, ATS-Group has developed a unique solution where the complete system can be carried on a motorbike. This has three major advantages over the conventional, cumbersome methodology. Firstly, it is more agile, as motorbikes have proved to be considerably better than vans at coping with the urban environment – easily negotiating their way through the traffic that clogs the arterioles of the city. Secondly, it has a far lower ecological impact, as less fuel is consumed to carry out the tests. Finally, the running costs involved will be markedly less.

The equipment being utilised for this project by each of ATS-Group’s operatives consists of a PCTEL SeeGull EX-quad high performance scanning receiver connected to an antenna, plus three Sony Ericsson test handsets. All of this hardware fits in the motorbike’s side and back pannier boxes. Data from the handsets and scanner is fed into a Samsung tablet PC, which acts as the system hub, held in the fuel tank bag just in front of the rider. The system runs the Ascom TEMS Investigation data acquisition software platform, with external scanner support included. Having stopped after carrying out tests in one area, the engineer riding the motorbike can examine the data that has come in and quickly send it off to the operations centre, without having to dismount, then move on to the next area, saving valuable time. With testing activity already underway, ATS-Group now hopes to apply this simple but effective approach to other cities in the near future.

“Use of a motorcycle-based drive test system clearly has a great deal of value to our customers as they endeavour to bolster their network resources while subscribers’ data usage demands continue to climb,” states Tom Bryer, Managing Director at ATS-Group. “Having access to the right combination of tools was paramount to the success of this project and partnering with Livingston has allowed us source everything we needed in the most financially practical and convenient manner.”

According to Nick Clarke, Sales Manager at Livingston, “The new drive test technique that ATS-Group has pioneered will have a major effect on the way this activity is undertaken. This is something that will be of particular value in and around London this summer, given the added number of people likely to be using the roads. Field operatives will have a greater degree of mobility and be able to cover a given area in a much shorter period of time. Livingston is pleased to have been chosen to supply the necessary equipment – showing that we have an important part to play in the roll-out of advanced mobile infrastructure.”

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