Todd Cotts, Director of Product Management
In the second part of this series, I outlined that there are two types of network intelligence most important to an M2M solution provider: (a) network coverage, which deals with a mobile network carrier’s range of wireless coverage, including network mode and technologies, and (b) network status, which deals with the quality of the carrier’s wireless coverage. I also described several different network testing & measurement (T&M) approaches that can be implemented by M2M solution providers.
However, for M2M solution providers looking for a cellular and/or Wi-Fi network T&M solution that is simple, scalable, economical, and quick to deploy, not all approaches are created equal and not all approaches are optimal. Today, there are a limited number of network T&M tools that meet all of these criteria. Here’s what to look for – consider it a “buyer’s guide.”
First, the ideal network T&M solution should be app-based. Using a software application that can be quickly downloaded from the Google Play store onto a smartphone device allows M2M solution providers to test and measure carrier networks based on the consumer or end user experience, as opposed to a carrier’s focus on network infrastructure and optimization. A downloadable app solution also allows M2M solution providers the flexibility of simultaneously testing and measuring the consumer and end user experience across multiple carrier networks. Also, by using a downloadable software application, as opposed to purchasing expensive hardware with embedded software, M2M solution providers can save money and time when deploying their devices or services in single or multiple locations.
There are other factors to consider when reviewing software app capabilities. The ideal software app should be designed to test and measure all critical key performance indicators on a cellular or Wi-Fi network, not only signal strength or data speeds. Other important metrics and information necessary for analyzing network performance include signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), latency, jitter, packet loss, Cell ID, MNC, LAC, and more. Finally, an additional benefit to an app-based solution is that the API (if available) can be encoded on non-smartphone M2M devices, whether fixed or mobile. This allows M2M solution providers the ability to capture the same network performance data on their M2M devices as captured on a smartphone device.
Second, when looking for the best T&M solution, M2M solution providers should explore solutions that provide visual analytics and reporting capabilities. Relying on only a software app on a smart device to analyze network performance over time and locations is not optimal. The ability to view network performance data in a variety of formats is vital to analyzing the data and making informed decisions. The optimal solution should include a robust, user-friendly, browser-based dashboard that displays data in a variety of formats, including metrics, geospatial heat-maps, line graphs, pie charts and more, all associated with the time and location of each data set. In addition to an interactive dashboard, the T&M analytics platform should allow users to export geospatial data in KML format into Google Earth, export the visual data into a professional and presentable PDF format, as well as export the entire raw data set into CSV format for deeper analysis.
Identifying the optimal features for a T&M solution is important if M2M solution providers want to maximize finances, time, and other resources, while also ensuring their clients and users of their devices or services have the best possible experience. Whether the need is to analyze signal and data-connectivity performance in outdoor areas (i.e. highways and roadways, stadiums, campuses, bus stops, other pedestrian zones and even rural areas), or indoor locations (i.e. hotels, airports, universities, warehouses, corporate buildings, train stations, shopping malls and running trains), the ideal T&M solution for M2M providers is one that has the flexibility of a user-friendly software application accompanied with a robust analytics dashboard with reporting capabilities. By carefully choosing the right solution to test and measure the performance of wireless networks, M2M providers can quickly and economically deliver the right solution the first time, all while ensuring the best possible service at specific times and in specific locations.
As the director of product management, Cotts is responsible for balancing the competing interests of Mosaik’s clients, sales and product management to deliver valuable and marketable solutions. With more than 13 years of telecom experience, he has served in roles from marketing to product management for some of the industry’s leading names such as Sprint/Nextel and Kyocera Communications. His many areas of expertise include cross-functional collaboration, training and leadership, product lifecycle management, market research, project management, process improvement, customer facing and trade show marketing and the end-to-end RFP process.
For more information please visit www.mosaik.com