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What is RF Drive Test (Testing)?


PostedbyleopedriniTuesday,March08,20119:46:00AMC ategories:C ourse

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T W

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EverygoodRFdesign,afteritsimplantationshouldbeevaluated.There RatethisC ontent


18Votes
are few ways to do this, for example through analysis of KPI (Key
Performance Indicator) or through prediction tools and signal interference. Other very common and
efficientwaytoevaluatethenetworkisconductingaDriveTest.Butwhatisit?

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WhatisC P(C yclicPrefix)in
LTE?

WhatisLC S(andLBS)?

Thenameisintuitive:takeadrivetest.TheDriveTestisatestperformedincellularnetworksregardless
oftechnology(GSM,CDMA,UMTS,LTE,etc....).Meanscollectingdataonvehiclemovement.Itsvariation
hasalsointutive:WalkTest,ie,collectdatabywalkingareasofinterest.

WhatisISI(InterSymbol
Interference)inLTE?

TheanalysisofdrivetestarefundamentalfortheworkofanyprofessionalinthefieldofITandTelecom
comprisingtwophases:datacollectionanddataanalysis.

AnalyzingC overagewith
PropagationDelayPDand
TimingAdvanceTA(GSM
WC DMALTE)

AlthoughthroughtheanalysisofKPI'swecanidentifyproblemssuchasdroppedcalls,amongothers,the
drive tests allow a deeper analysis in field. Identifying areas of each sector of coverage, interference,
evaluationofnetworkchangesandvariousotherparameters.
Thenlet'sknowmoreaboutthistechnique,andknowwhatwecandowithit?

What is a Drive Test?


Drive Test, as already mentioned, is the procedure to perform a test while driving. The vehicle does not
really matter, you can do a drive test using a motorcycle or bicycle. What matters is the hardware and
softwareusedinthetest.
Anotebookorothersimilardevice(1)
withcollectingSoftwareinstalled(2),
aSecurityKeyDonglecommontothesetypesofsoftware(3),
atleastoneMobilePhone(4),
oneGPS(5),
andaScanneroptional(6).

Alsoiscommontheuseofadaptersand/orhubsthatallowthecorrectinterconnectionofallequipment.
Thefollowingisaschematicofthestandardconnections.

WhatisSplitterandC ombiner?

WhatisRRC andRAB?
WhatisRetransmission,ARQ
andHARQ?
IPPacketswitchinginTelecom
Part4
IPPacketswitchinginTelecom
Part3
IPPacketswitchinginTelecom
Part2
IPPacketswitchinginTelecom
Part1
GoodbyeIPv4...HelloIPv6!
WhatisAntennaElectricaland
MechanicalTilt(andHowtouse
it)?
WhatisMIMO?
HowtoRunaRFSiteSurvey
(TipsandBestPractices)

Archives
November,2014(2)
October,2014(1)

February,2014(1)
October,2013(1)
June,2013(1)
May,2013(1)
June,2012(1)
March,2012(1)
February,2012(2)
January,2012(1)
November,2011(1)
October,2011(1)
September,2011(1)
June,2011(1)
April,2011(2)
March,2011(3)

February,2011(5)

Themaingoalistocollecttestdata,buttheycanbeviewed/analyzedinrealtime(Live)duringthetest,
allowingaviewofnetworkperformanceonthefield.Datafromallunitsaregroupedbycollectionsoftware
andstoredinoneormoreoutputfiles(1).

GPS: collecting the data of latitude and longitude of each point / measurement data, time, speed, etc.. It is also
usefulasaguideforfollowingthecorrectroutes.
MS:mobiledatacollection,suchassignalstrength,bestserver,etc...
SC ANNER: collecting data throughout the network, since the mobile radio is a limited and does not handle all the
necessarydataforamorecompleteanalysis.

The minimum required to conduct a drive test, simplifying, is a mobile device with a software to coleect
dataandaGPS.Currently,therearealreadycellphonesthatdoeverything.TheyhaveaGPS,aswellas
acollectionofspecificsoftware.Theyareverypractical,butarestillquiteexpensive.

Drive Test Routes


Drive Test routes are the first step to be set, and indicate where testing will occur. This area is defined
basedonseveralfactors,mainlyrelatedtothepurposeofthetest.
Theroutesarepredefinedintheoffice.
AprogramofalotofhelpinthisareaisGoogleEarth.Agoodpracticeistotracetherouteonthesame
usingtheeasypathsorpolygons.Thefinalimagecanthenbebroughttothedriver.

January,2011(1)
December,2010(2)

Somesoftwareallowstheimagetobeloadedasthesoftwarebackground(georeferenced).Thismakesit
mucheasiertodirectroutestobefollowed.
Itisadvisabletochecktrafficconditionsbytracingouttheexactpathwaysthroughwhichthedrivermust
pass. It is clear that the movement of vehicles is always subject to unforeseen events, such as
congestion,interdictedroads,etc..Therefore,oneshouldalwayshaveonhandknowalternateroutes
tobetakenontheseoccasions.
Avoid running the same roads multiple times during a Drive Test (use the Pause if needed). A route with
severalpassagesinthesamewayismoredifficulttointerpret.

Drive Test Schedule


Againdependingonthepurpose,thetestcanbeperformedatdifferenttimesdayornight.

A Drive Test during the day shows the actual condition of the network especially in relation to loading
aspect of it. Moreover, a drive test conducted at night allows you to make, for example, tests on
transmitterswithoutaffectingmostusers.
TypicallytakesplacenightlyDriveTestinactivitiessuchSystemDesign,forexamplewiththeintegration
ofnewsites.AndDaytimeDriveTestapplytoPerformanceAnalysisandalsoMaintenance.
Important: regardless of the time, always check with the responsible area which sites are with alarms or
evenoutofservice.Otherwise,yourjobmaybeinvain.

Types of Calls
The Drive Test is performed according to the need, and the types of test calls are the same that the
network supports calls can be voice, data, video, etc.. Everything depends on the technology (GSM,
CDMA,UMTS,etc....),andthepurposeofthetest,asalways.
AtypicalDriveTestusestwophones.Amobileperformingcalls(CALL)foraspecificnumberfromtimeto
time,configuredintheCollectingSoftware.Andtheother,infreeorIDLEmode,ieconnected,butnoton
call.Withthis,wecollectspecificdatainIDLEandCALLmodesforthenetwork.
Thecallstest(CALL)canbeoftwotypes:longorshortduration.
Shortcallsshouldlasttheaverageofausercallagoodreferencevalueis180seconds.Servetocheck
whether the calls are being established and successfully completed (being a good way to also check the
networksetuptime).
Long calls serve to verify if the handovers (continuity between the cells) of the network are working, ie
callsmustnotdrop.

Types of Drive Test


ThemaintypesofDriveTestare:
PerformanceAnalysis
IntegrationofNewSitesandchangeparametersofExistingSites
Marketing
Benchmarking


TestsforAnalysisPerformanceisthemostcommon,andusuallymadeintoclusters(groupingofcells),ie,
an area with some sites of interest. They can also be performed in specific situations, as to answer a
customercomplaint.
In integration testing of new sites, it is recommended to perform two tests: one with the site without
handoverpermissionnotbeingabletohandovertoanothersitethusobtainingatotalvisualizationof
thecoveragearea.Theother,later,withnormalhandover,whichisthefinalstateofthesite.
Dependingonthetypeofalterationofthesite(ifanychangeinEIRP)bothtestsarealsorecommended.
Otherwise,justperformthenormaltest.
Marketing tests are usually requested by the marketing area of the company, for example showing the
coveragealongahighway,orataspecificregion/location.
Benchmarking tests aims to compare the competing networks. If the result is better, can be used as an
argumentfornewsales.Ifworse,itshowsthepointswherethenetworkshouldbeimproved.

Data Collecting (almost) Flawless


Who has done a Drive Test before already knows this: It looks as Murphy's sits in the back seat. That's
becausealotofproblemsbutpreventablealwaysenduphappening.

Toavoid,oratleastminimize,theoccurrenceoftheseproblems,alwaysmakeachecklistbeforestarting
theDriveTest.
Itisveryfrustratingtorunaroute,andonlyinordertorealizethatthedatawerenotcollectedproperly.
So before you start, check all connections, always! Mainly, make sure that all equipment is properly
energized.Youwillnotwanttoseealowbatterywarningonabusyroad,willyou?
When we say check, include making sure that the connections are tight and will not drop with vehicle
movements.
Alsomakesuretheequipmentistied,oryouwillseeaflyinglaptopincaseyouneedtogiveahalt.
When assembling the equipment, maintain a distance of at least a foot between each antenna, thereby
ensuring that we have no electromagnetic interference or distortion of the radiation pattern of antenna
thatcanaffectmeasurements.
Making sure that all equipment involved are tied and connected to the power source, verify now that all
wereidentifiedbythecollectionsoftware.Thismustbedoneusingtheprograminterface,whichdisplays
eachelementonwhichportisconnectedproperly.
Now with the equipment identified, make sure the GPS has acquired satellites it needs to determine its
position.Youmustbeanopenareawithsighttothesatellites.Itisadvisabletoconfigurethesoftwareto
dothecollectioninDegrees,MinutesandSeconds.Familiarizeyourselfwiththeconcept.
AnotherfactthatshouldbetakenintoaccountinrelationtoitsGPSantenna.Itshouldgenerallystayin
one place on the vehicle roof, where you can see the sky. If it is not waterproof, it is necessary to

protectitwithplasticifitrain.
IfeverythingisOKwithGPS,startatestcollectiontoverifythatalldatabeingwritten.
Intheprogrammainwindow,makeitanindicatorthattellsifthedataarebeingrecorded.Alsonotethat
the parameters of the network are visible on the window of each device mobile, gps, scanner, etc..
Some software also offers the facility to visualize this data without saving. It is very important to make
sureeverythingisOKbeforeyoustart.
Andnow,finally,butcertainlymostimportant,rememberthat:first,you'redriving!

It is recommended whenever possible to have one vehicle driver and one equipments operator. If this is
notpossible,alwaysstart,stopormakechangestoacollectionatasecurepointoftheroad.
Andofcourse:alwayschecktheconditionsofthevehicle,andalwayswearyourseatbelt!

Annotations
Mostsoftwareofferthefacilitytoaddnotes(Marker)duringtheDriveTest.Whetherthroughit,orusinga
pieceofpaper,alwaysmakenotes.

Informationrelatedtothetestshouldberecordedforfutureaidintheanalysis.Forexample,howisthe
weather(rain),ifthereissomeverybigobstacleinthearea,possiblesourcesofnoise,etc...

And what is collected?


Okay,butwhatisactuallycollected?
Well, before that, we must ensure that data is able to be recorded. Remember that we are using a
notebook,whicharguablyissubjecttofreezethescreenlock.
Andifso,whattodo?Unfortunately,thereismuchbesidesrestartingtheequipment.
Butsomepracticescanalsominimizetheseerrors.
AtypicalfilesizeofDriveTestisfrom30minutestoanhour.Ofcourseeverythingwilldependonthesize
ofthefile,whichinturndependsoninformationbeingrecorded.
Very large files suffer more risk of being corrupted especially in case of malfunction of the notebook
andaremoredifficulttomove,load,andeventoanalyze.
Always leave a few GB free on your HD (Hard Drive) before beginning any data collection. And use the
leastamountofRAMspecifiedrequiredthesoftwarecollection.
Another important thing: do not open or use other programs when you are collecting data only when
strictlynecessary.

Drive Test files are always big, and you're always moving them. So keep a daily basis weekly is
appropriatetoperformadefragmentationofharddriveandascanforerrors.
Wheneveryoufinishthecollection,stoptheongoingcalls,andonlythenstopcollecting.Otherwise,these
callsmaybeinterpretederroneouslyasfalls.

Now,yes.Ifthedatawerecollected,wecantalkaboutthem.Andtovary,dependingontheequipment
usedandthepurposeofDriveTest.
Inthecaseofmobiles,therearecollectedallthemessagesexchangedbetweenthesitesandit,withall
layers of information even if you don't know much of it. It's because in most critical cases, such data
canbesenttobetterpreparedlaboratoriesfordeepanalysis.
Ifusingascanner,wealsohaveinformationfromsitesthatwerenot"seen"bythemobiles.
Of course, everything is configurable, but it's always good to use the default setting, and record
everythingthatispossible.
AllinformationisstoredwiththeirrespectivedataDateandTimeaswellasitsgeographicalposition.
Typicalexampleofdataoutputisshownbelow.

Equipment and Collection Software


Wehavespokenenoughofthem.Andwhataretheequipmentandcollectionsoftwarerecommended?
Well,thatquestionisnoteasy.Let'smakeananalogy:Whatisthecarthatyouwillbuynextyear?
Gotit?You'llhavetocheckwhatyourneed,availabilityinthemarket,andthebestcostbenefit.Youmay
evencontinuebywalking.
AndwiththeequipmentandsoftwaretocollectandpostprocessingofDriveTestisthesame.
You should verify if it is compatible with your network, what are the differential costs and benefits, not
least,support!
Rememberthatnewtoolsandfeaturesareconstantlyemerging.Keepuptodateonthissubject.
Note: we could have listed here some equipment and software, for example, the one we use. But we
prefernottoquoteanyofthem,toavoidtheriskofeventuallybeingsomewhatunfair.


Butanyway,whatevertheequipment,softwareandproceduresused,theendresultisalwaysthesame:
reportsandoutputfiles.
Thevastmajorityofcollection(orprocessing)softwarehaveincommonsomesoftwarewhichalsomakes
analysis. These are called postprocessing software. Each postprocessing software has its specific
analysis, and as data (measures) collected is huge, they can be of great help to solve very specific
problems. These tools present the data in tables, maps and comparison charts that help in making
decisions.
Regardlessofwhatthepostprocessingsoftware,allhavethefunctionalitytoexportdataintabularform,
intextformatorCSV.
Thismaybeanattractiveoption,especiallyifyouhaveowntools,developedspecificallyforyourneeds.
ThefollowingareexamplesofdrivetestdataprocessedbyHunterGEDriveTesttool,createdentirelyin
VBA.

One advantage of working with the data this way is that no matter how they were collected, but its
content. So for example we can, even if a team has run half the route with a type of software, and
anotherteamofdrivetestshottherestwithanothersoftware,wecanplotthedatafromournetworkon
a single desktop. That's where for example the generic georeferenced analyzing softwares enters, such
asMapinfoandGoogleEarth.
AnotheradvantageisthattheanalysisavailableinMapinfoandGoogleEarthhasoftenabetteruse,since
theyaremorefamiliartomostprofessionals,notjustthosewhospecificdo/analyseDriveTest.Thiscan
be understood as not having to purchase multiple software licenses for postprocessing: only one for
casesofdeeperanalysis.

Conclusion
TodaywehadanoverviewofDriveTest,acommonandefficienttechniqueforevaluatingthenetwork.
Analyses made through the information of data collected in the field represent a true picture of network
conditions, and can be used in decision making in several areas, from planning and design through
optimization and maintenance of the system, always with the goal of maximizing Quality, Capacity and
CoverageintheNetwork.

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AzmatUlGhafoorTechnologySupportSpecialist(IT)atCalgary
BoardofEducation
excellent,Imustsaynoonehaseverexplaineditsowell
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2FollowPostJanuary26at3:14pm

PrashanthKumara

FollowDellServiceProvideratDell

thankyouvmuchboss
ReplyLike

1FollowPostJanuary6at12:41pm

SifeGetahun
followers

FollowEngineeratAddisAbaba,Ethiopia113

tx
ReplyLike

1FollowPostDecember10,2014at3:58pm

AbhilashShalomEMFExecitiveatVodafoneIndia
Addacomment...heyanyopeningsfroRFengineers
ReplyLike

4FollowPostSeptember9,2014at5:53pm

TilakChitturi

FollowKLCE

STUDYMATERIAL?
ReplyLike
TilakChitturi

1September18,2014at4:25pm
FollowKLCE

ANYOTHER?
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1September18,2014at4:25pm

MarioEbanksUniversityoftheWestIndies
Verygoodoverview,thanks!
ReplyLike

2FollowPostSeptember2,2014at11:21pm

Thanks!
WhohasdoneaDriveTestbeforealreadyknowsthis:Itlooksas
Murphy'ssitsinthebackseat.:)
ReplyLike

1FollowPostAugust8,2014at12:46am

MrmoeminnOoSurveyEngineeratMOBICON
Goodjob!Thanks
ReplyLike

2FollowPostAugust6,2014at4:11pm

UditGuptaWorksatStudent
whichisbetterjob?
rfdrivetestengineerorbssengineer.
ReplyLike

1FollowPostJuly15,2014at4:47pm

MuhammadMuaazZafar

FollowLahore,Pakistan

ithinkDTENGG.....
ReplyLikeSeptember9,2014at2:55am
AbhilashShalomEMFExecitiveatVodafoneIndia
Addacomment...heyanyopeningsfroRFengineers
ReplyLike

8September9,2014at5:53pm

RehanSiddiqui
GoodsummaryofRFDrivetesting
ReplyLike

1FollowPostJuly14,2014at7:19am

LawrenceIshengomaDaresSalaam,Tanzania
goodsummaryforrfdrivetesteng'r,Bigup!
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1FollowPostJuly8,2014at8:55pm
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