Wi-Fi has become essential in our lives and the number of wirelessly connected devices continues to explode, thanks to Wi-Fi’s convenience factor. Service providers today have had to rapidly evolve in order to support environments where end customers expect to be connected 24/7/365.
When families experience connectivity issues, operators usually get the blame. We—the experts in the industry—know that Wi-Fi issues can arise from many sources, but this is the reality that operators face today. As a result, a considerable percentage of calls generated from customers to service providers are related to Wi-Fi.
How can operators proactively alleviate these common Wi-Fi problems for their customers? The answer is testing before deployment and ahead of commitments for purchasing decisions, as well as understanding operational considerations. Labs that are well equipped with test chambers and—more importantly—with controlled test houses, are fundamental in identifying design flaws and in proving situational real-world performance.
Many companies offer testing at a test house, but there are several considerations you should be aware of before you decide which test house is the right facility to have your device tested.
As part of our series on wireless device performance testing, see our previous blog posts on the anechoic chamber and semi-anechoic chamber. I’ll also give you a tour of Kyrio’s 5,000 sq. ft. test house in Brighton, CO.
Why should you consider testing at a test house facility?
A test house’s layout should mimic and resemble a real home. A well-equipped test house can help you understand how your device performs in a real-world environment and should be able to accommodate a variety of tests that take multiple clients into account, various construction mediums (e.g., drywall, concrete), furniture placement and interference, client saturation, legacy devices, and more. Ultimately, the goal of performance, characterization and stability testing at a test house is to unveil potential issues associated with your device, validating your device’s performance and reducing the number of service calls to the home.
There are several situations in which you might consider bringing a device to a test house facility to expose potential issues:
- Product validation—This is an ideal option if you’re looking to make sure that your device performs under a particular set of requirements and functions as intended.
- Pre-deployment issue detection—This option is beneficial in helping you make an informed purchasing decision before procuring and deploying the device in the field.
- Customized testing—If you have already deployed your device into a production environment and it’s experiencing issues, you can bring it to the test house for troubleshooting and validation of customer-call trends.
What additional equipment makes a test house effective?
A well-equipped test house should have the following at a minimum:
- Traffic generators—These can recreate traffic patterns in a repeatable manner. More than one brand of traffic generators allows you to uncover and troubleshoot problems, replicating various usage profiles.
- Multiple Wi-Fi clients—Access to several Wi-Fi clients is essential, with a mix of legacy and newer technologies (e.g., 802.11ac, n, b, g) to simulate real-world scenarios.
- Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS)—A test house design that has the cable industry in mind must be able to handle relative cable modem field operations. For this reason, you need a CMTS in the house.
What does an ideal environment look like?
A test house must simulate a real environment as much as possible. A real environment is situational and a test house must reflect that. Test house staff must understand the sources of interference/noise and must be able to measure them as a factor in the overall test results. A test house is not a pristine environment like you can test for in an anechoic chamber.
What types of tests should a test house accommodate?
A test house should offer a wide range of tests—from the very basic to more advanced and even customized testing. Here are several tests to look for when determining whether a test house can accommodate your needs:
- Heat map characterization tests—These types of tests illustrate how your device under test (DUT) performs across the floor plan.
- Rotation and extender tests—These types of tests determine how your device performs at different angles and positions. Rotational testing is a methodology that forces a multitude of signal paths, angles of reflection, and distance; all of these allow for a high-value, exhaustive test configuration that produces a vast amount of resulting data.
- Mesh network tests—This type of testing is useful for simulating different deployments in commercial and residential environments and for understanding how multiple access points coordinate device traffic as they traverse the network.
- Customized load tests—If a test house is equipped with several edge devices, routers, access points, and traffic generators, then customized load testing can tell you how much data traffic the device can handle.
How is using a test house different from using an anechoic chamber?
The type of testing that should be expected from a test house is not the same that you would get in an anechoic chamber. Unlike the anechoic chamber, which eliminates all forms of interference, a test house can accommodate a wide variety of interference that one might expect to find in a real environment.
What kind of support should you expect?
At Kyrio, we provide access to our team of wireless experts, who will guide you through test planning, configurations, execution, results and any follow up activities. If you experience a problem with your device, our team will help you explore engineering and operational options toward solving your problem.
Kyrio—with its 5,000-square-foot, best-in-class test house facility in Brighton, Colorado—can help operators and manufacturers expose Wi-Fi issues before device deployment. Our main strengths are leveraging our vast technical skills and capabilities, our commitment to flexibility, and our ability to help you evaluate your device.
I hope I have answered some questions you might have had about whether wireless testing in test house is right for your situation. Feel free to reach out if you have additional questions or click below to download more information about Kyrio’s test house.