Testing wireless networks is expected to become more important under the FCC’s (News - Alert) recently announced National Broadband Plan, which is expected to boost national access speeds to 100 Mbps, and release 500 MHz of additional spectrum for wireless broadband.
As you might expect, of course, mobile VoIP providers, carriers and mobile device makers are grinning and drywashing their hands in anticipation. Also keeping an eye on proceedings are those who oversee wireless networks testing.
Major carriers are taking testing much more seriously. Verizon (News - Alert) Wireless has employed real-life test men and women to test the company's network, and over the past ten years has “more than tripled” the size of that fleet, company officials said, currently fielding over 100 test vehicles.
The testers are sent out in late-model, four-wheel drive utility vehicles “each costing approximately $240,000 when fully outfitted with network testing gear,” company officials said.
What gets tested has also gotten more sophisticated. Ten years ago Verizon primarily tested for voice call quality, today people are using far more smartphones and wireless data services, so the testing needs to determine whether a data session connected, how it connected and how quickly that connection was made.
And as you might also expect, it won’t be controversy-free – TMC’s Gary Kim (News - Alert) reported recently that there are “only two major areas where the Federal Communication Commission’s upcoming National Broadband Plan is likely to cause heated contention, says Dan Hays, PRTM director.”
And they are… wait for it… “boosting national access speeds to 100 Mbps, and releasing 500 MHz of additional spectrum for wireless broadband,” Kim said, noting that it’s no coincidence those two require the “greatest investments and asset divestitures by private entities.”
The stated goal is to provide 100 Mbps service to 100 million U.S. homes by 2020, and has an estimated investment of $350 billion. This being the government, of course, you can bet the final bill will be much bigger and it will take much longer than that.
David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Marisa Torrieri