Application Note 271

Ensuring a Successful LTE Launch by Troubleshooting Throughout the Technology Lifecycle
Murat Bilgic, Director of Wireless Technology, CTO Office, Tommi Tallgren, Senior Product Manager, Network Analyzers, Gerold Haase, Sales Specialist, Network Simulators
This application note details the high-level functional requirements of LTE testing and presents solutions for assuring high quality of service (QoS) across networks. We will refer to the challenges met at each phase of the LTE technology lifecycle from lab phase to live network, from a mobile network operator’s (MNO) point of view. Solutions are presented for effective testing of LTE elements and interfaces as well as on end-to-end performance focusing on layer-3-to-7 protocols.

Testing Requirements
IOT must be conducted on a complete or nearly complete LTE network. IOT testing may be done with a complete LTE network in the test-laboratory, or if possible with live networks core elements, and have the separate eNBs and user equipment in the laboratory. Testing must follow the functional and regression test cases, but every interface involved must be analyzed. With purpose-built analyzers, complete networks can be analyzed and end-to-end functionality can be visualized. Using LTE end-to-end analyzers during the IOT testing phase will shorten the time to production and reduce operational expenditures (OPEX), as well as eliminate issues before the network goes live. Mobile IOT must include detailed testing of the devices that operators sell as well as the most commonly used roaming LTE dongles/smartphones. Test scenarios must include the following groups of test cases per 3GPP 36.523-1:

› Idle mode operations including public land mobile network (PLMN) selection, › › ›

Building a completely new network element like eNB that is 3GPP compliant is quite complex, but this complexity increases exponentially when the complete LTE network has to run smoothly with hundreds of different devices and under significant load conditions. The MNO needs to be 100% sure that the network being launched will not fail when a new smartphone, service or network element is added. That is why meticulous interoperability testing (IOT) needs to be performed.

› › › ›

cell selection and cell reselection on which the multimode scenario MNO network is built Radio resource control (RRC) operations including connection management, connection reconfiguration, measurement configuration, inter-RAT handover and minimization of drive-test-related features Evolved packet system (EPS) mobility management operations including EMM common and specific procedures, EMM connection management and non-access stratum (NAS) security procedures EPS session management operations including context activation, modification and deactivation, packet data network (PDN) context connection and release, bearer resource allocation and modification and routing of uplink packets Packet switched service operations including short message service (SMS) over SGs interface and emergency calls over IP multimedia service (IMS) Data transfers over various radio bearer combinations with and without multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) capabilities Multilayer operations including call set-up using circuit switched fall back (CSFB), RRC connection reconfiguration, connection re-establishment intra-LTE and inter-system (3G or 2G), intra- and inter-system (3G or 2G) mobility for PS handovers, inter-system mobility (3G or 2G) for voice using single radio voice call continuity (SRVCC), emergency alert system 3GPP LTE requirements for signaling latency, user-plane latency, throughputs and QoS for different quality classes.

Figure 2. EXFO’s real-time test environment Figure 1. Simple LTE network with LTE elements and interfaces

EUTRAN PERFORMANCE AND FUNCTIONALITY TESTS Challenge LTE promises superior user-experience when compared to 3G thanks to lower latency and higher throughput. Simulators can be used to speed up vendor selection and element testing. The installation is the same whether the elements are in a laboratory or in a live environment.g. Figure 3. EXFO’s family of analyzers is one of the very few to be approved by the main LTE element manufacturers (e. Test requirements should be identified for each network equipment provider’s network and their network releases. Refer to figure 3 for the architecture of the solution. packet data network gateway (P-GW) and registers along with LTE dongles or smartphones. . RAN testing with real EPC © 2013 EXFO Inc. For an example of the analysis results from EXFO’s LTE analyzer. Before any new functionality can be launched in an operational network. A third-party tool is needed to speed up the work and give full standard approval. passive analysis solutions are installed to sniff all data from the open interfaces. thus accelerating the testing process. every element will also be tested separately to understand its behavior in load situations. a proper third-party analysis solution is essential. However. In bigger labs. functional.” Refer to the basic LTE functionality in section 1. A simulated environment can also be used for negative testing to see how the equipment recovers after a crash. All rights reserved. The analysis tool must therefore be able to provide access to multiple groups concurrently. the test environment (test network) will be used by multiple engineers. In practice. EXFO’s PowerHawk mobile analyzer allows up to 10 users at once. LTE requirements mean a drastic increase in user-plane interest as well as in datathroughputs. LTE testing typically starts with vendors providing a smallscale lab to test their LTE capabilities as well as their solution’s unique features. operators typically build a test network to meet their comprehensive functionaltesting needs. RAN testing with simulated EPC After selecting the network equipment provider. refer to the end of section 2. The ideal analysis solution is to use a tap or mirror port from the switch to connect all signaling interfaces over mobility management entity (MME) to one or multiple 1 Gbit/s Ethernet lines. User-plane data links typically use 30% to 60% of the 1 Gbit/s or 10 Gbit/s line throughputs. the user-plane is also analyzed in separate powerful PowerHawk Pro platforms. it is often more effective to use a partly simulated environment. smartphones or simulated LTE mobiles. LTE functional testing might use only 10 or 100 mobiles and its signaling is easy to handle in real-time. where some of the network elements are replaced with simulations. Ericsson. EXFO’s solution includes seamless real-time analysis of both datasets.. 2. and thus the S1-U and S5/8 interfaces must be attached to the analyzer probes with direct taps. Test scenarios and loads can be generated more easily than with real handsets. Both in the vendor selection as well as in the final functionality acceptance. LTE testing needs a powerful user-plane analysis platform with easy-to-use and multifunctional graphical applications. test reporting and troubleshooting. Naturally. EXFO’s architecture allows real-time analysis of tens of gigabytes per second with graphical analysis of end-to-end signaling. To speed up complete test scenarios. complex technologies is that network element features and software versions need to be tested for each network before public service can be launched. A mobile analyzer is needed for fast. thus requiring a new kind of test solution that can handle both user-plane and control-plane data in real time. Test Solution Basic LTE functionalities are tested from the user equipment (UE) end. Huawei. it is important to build a test lab of the operator’s existing network. Test systems are used to illustrate and generate reports based on test results. its limitations and how to prepare for the “unforeseeable. A complete LTE test environment includes multiple eNB’s. Below is a diagram of the elements that can be simulated in eUTRAN functionality tests. accurate testing. the user-plane data rate easily exceeds the gigabytes per second mark. using LTE dongles. so it is essential for a tester to see the network behavior in real-time. Testing Requirements LTE functionality testing can be conducted in both a full or minimal test network.Application Note 271 One Solution IOT is mostly functional testing. serving gateway (S-GW). MNOs that work closely with vendors need future-proof tools that allow analyzer or raw files to be shared with the vendors in troubleshooting cases. ALU). load and stress testing simulator products should be used. NSN. Other professional tools can be used to show errors and provide a root-cause analysis. The reality of new. Figure 4. MME.

it is also critical to prepare troubleshooting systems for fast error detection and fixing. combined with the experience of the network usage (e. like packet delays or retransmissions. voice-over-LTE (VoLTE).Application Note 271 Below are examples of test cases and how they are reported by EXFO’s mobile analyzer software... LTE FIELD TRIALS AND LIVE NETWORK TROUBLESHOOTING Challenge Figure 6. In this phase. interoperability. For example. or signaling problems for the MME or individual users. attach-time or quality classes given). Live network troubleshooting requires a level of detailed analysis similar to field tests. Testing Requirements Field tests are similar to those of an operational network but with lower performance requirements. Issues can be purely at the user-plane or transmission end. mobility and actual end-to-end network performance. More often than not. LTE session and user-plane correlation and throughput visualization 3.. An analysis system must cover every single interface and provide views of network behavior or troubleshooting options for current as well as past activities. in . The main field-testing element is a real-time system that can generate both network-level KPIs as well as detailed analyses. because customer quality of experience (QoE) can only be analyzed with signaling details (e. it is essential to get to the root-cause of the problem fast. every Monday. Detailed signaling can be visualized with individual node names and exported to test reports.pdf format Troubleshooting erroneous LTE sessions: Figure 8. Full correlation over E2E LTE network Operators use field tests to ensure superior end-user experience and fine-tune their networks. All rights reserved. Field tests are essential to understanding network coverage. For live network troubleshooting. operators need to see the network usage and behavior from over the weekend.g. LTE network troubleshooting and optimization will be based on the passive analysis of subscriber signaling and user-plane data. Full E2E session correlation Figure 9. Phase 1 for troubleshooting problematic calls © 2013 EXFO Inc. Figure 7. Systems have to be able to handle live-network data amounts. Troubleshooting relies on the fast drill-down and analysis of LTE network issues. LTE troubleshooting is a mix of signaling and user-plane data analysis.g. whether in real-time or via post-processing. Signaling verification and reporting: Figure 5. Field tests and customer trials are needed to configure the network and monitoring systems to generate network-level key performance indicators (KPIs) and troubleshoot the network prior to a commercial launch. call quality−mean opinion score (MOS) or the sustained throughput of the data-download).g. e. .

To find your local office contact details. Portable TravelHawk Pro for 2 x 10 Gbit/s and 4 x 1 Gbit/s links with 14 TB of storage EXFO Headquarters > Tel. Finally. by capturing data over 1 or 10 Gbit/s links and post-processing this data for statistical and detailed analysis. a complete LTE MME site can be covered by one probe capturing all the signaling messages. EXFO offers a wide range of portable solutions for 1 and 10 Gbit/s LTE links. APNOTE271. All rights reserved. please go to optimizing or network-level troubleshooting starts with statistical analysis.: +1 418 683-0211 | Toll-free: +1 800 663-3936 (USA and Canada) | Fax: +1 418 683-2170 | info@EXFO. a KPI server will correlate all interface KPIs and a client server will allow multiple engineers to access the environment remotely. Another probe can be used to analyze the user-plane and system components in order to fully correlate the user-plane and control-plane sessions. Performance and technical teams need independent tools to be able to pinpoint network issues or find the root cause of user problems. This portable solution is a cost-effective way to perform a needs-based analysis. For live network troubleshooting. All KPIs. see the details of failures in PDN contexts in certain areas).Application Note 271 A real-time test environment can be prepared by simply installing a few probes in the complete network or | www. The session analysis can be used to focus on sessions with specific UEs. over selected timeframes. real-time analysis platform that uses probes. correlating them and storing the sessions in a database. Analysis and troubleshooting platform installation One Solution EXFO’s passive LTE network analyzer includes a high capacity. As illustrated below. High-level network behavior can be visualized from pre-defined and customized views illustrating statistics over the network. Examples of real-time live network troubleshooting tools over LTE networks Figure 11. The advantage of a portable tool that can handle live network data amounts is that it can be re-used at any location. Analyzing.1AN © 2013 EXFO Inc. portable tools are the ideal solution. failures or attempts can be seen per MME or TAC or eNB level. revealing the most likely problematic elements.g. users need to be able to drill-down the LTE sessions (e. 2008 Printed in Canada 13/01 . Figure 12. Figure 10. These tools are used to capture the difficult part of the network and then post-process the data to find any issues at the user-plane or control-plane end. A few examples of analysis capabilities are illustrated EXFO serves over 2000 customers in more than 100 countries. There are hundreds of values in the session that can be used to filter and group LTE behavior over the networks.EXFO. In terms of statistics.EXFO.

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