Sunday, October 28, 2012

LTE, Test Trials and Cell Site Analysis

LTE, Test Trials and Cell Site Analysis

There are some strange views floating around that cell site analysis is highly difficult or impossible now we have moved from GSM and 3G on to LTE, with it being so new that there is uncertainty.  I can imagine that LTE may cause speculation because LTE hasn't been sufficiently rolled out in the UK and it may appear there is no mature facts or figures upon which to rely. But, infact, there are facts and figures that have been generated in refining the LTE system for roll out and, of course, that knowledge benefits cell site analysis.

Back in 2009 mobile operator Telefonica O2 started conducting LTE test trials in Slough Berkshire UK. Throughput data quantification, radio test measurements, surveys, etc created a plethora of statistical information which O2 used in planning its LTE network.  

Those tests included a variety of known components required for analysis, which can be seen in the 'Key' legend.

Consideration of LTE requires tests to be conducted not only with a static analysis and assessment approach but also distance and velocity analysis and assessment approach, too. That is apart from the environmental considerations. For CSA that means drive tests alone are not good enough; nor using passive radio test measurement devices could fulfil the requirements of an analysis and assessment approach to comprehend an LTE service at a particular location. TrewMTE blog readers may recall I gave a helpful tip about looking at data and location here: Data Usage in Cell Site Analysis -

Of course, consideration of the particapting RF transceiver elements present the same requirement for cell site analysis to understand the arrangements at the base station for LTE as it did for GSM/3G.

TrewMTE blog readers may also recall that I set out a series of discussions about Cell Site Identification presented as primers:

Mini Course in Cell Site Identification (Pt1)

Mini Course in Cell Site Identification (Pt2)

Mini Course in Cell Site Identification (Pt3.s1)

I have completed the last primers in the series above and was going to publish them, having given readers sufficient time to go away and research/study the earlier parts. However, this matter needed airing first, due to misconceptions that are floating about out there. I shall publish the other primers later on.

Do remember, I have used the term 'cell site' to capture readers' imaginations to immediately link readers' thoughts towards cell site analysis (CSA). However, cell site can be used to mean e.g. a GSM cell site, a 3G NodeB or a LTE eNode. 

To leave the user device out of any analysis would be to precide over an incomplete investigation. Readers will note in Cell Site Identification Part 1 an illustration was given linking devices and components that are required for consideration when investigating/researching during CSA. The MS (handset/SIM) forms part of the investigation. O2 LTE test trials equally identified two devices used for their tests.

The experienced investigator will immediately see that the devices in the image above, used during test trials, do not of themselves fit immediately with the common scenarios of mobile phone usage and cell site analysis. However, as is known it is only fairly recently that LTE enabled smartphones have been launched. An LTE investigative approach to considering a particular device used in a particular case requires identification of handsets, dongles and server devices. Moreover, identification of devices that switch between transmission technologies is also a must.

Orange and Vodka - mixing mobile networks (shaken, not stirred) -

Examination Techniques3: Blackberry Bold -

Diplomas: Mobile Telephone Evidence (MTEdipl) -

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