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Empirix LTE assurance play balances network, user experience

The company believes strength in 2G/3G monitoring will be important even as operators move to 4G mobile broadband.

Empirix today announced it has added new long-term evolution and evolved packet core service assurance capabilities to its monitoring platform, with a focus on helping operators reconcile the performance they see in their networks and the experience their users are having with their devices.

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The new LTE and IP core/system architecture evolution support is now part of Empirix’s IPXplorer solution and part of its overarching X-DMA monitoring platform. Empirix is positioning the new 4G capabilities as being able to simultaneously view control and user plane performance – a capability crucial if operators want to make a success of 4G, said Steve Kish, vice president marketing for Empirix.

To explain the importance of that approach, Kish described a recent situation at one of its U.S. mobile operator customers. The carrier couldn’t figure out exactly why users were having a poor experience with their mobile data services, resulting in “an epic finger-pointing battle” with its mobile infrastructure vendor. Using Empirix gear to simultaneously monitor the network control plane alongside the customer experience on the user plane, the operator was able to figure out the problem wasn’t with its radio network, but rather with user handsets. “They were able to do all that analysis on a single box with our equipment and figure out what the problem was much more quickly,” Kish said.

Empirix has always been strong in voice-over-IP/IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) monitoring, and it recently bought wireless test vendor Mutina to add new radio interface testing capabilities into the mix. Those capabilities play a part in its new LTE solution. In addition, the LTE system provides a framework for monitoring voice and messaging services delivered over IMS, further extending the platform’s capabilities to monitor the wide variety of services delivered over 4G/LTE networks.

The solution also lets operators monitor performance of the evolved packet core network that sits behind and helps drive tomorrow’s 4G networks. It also keeps an eye on the S7 interface between the radio/IP network and policy engines, yet another crucial component of performance monitoring because 4G operators are likely to rely on sophisticated usage-management policies to keep their networks from getting overwhelmed by user demand, Kish said. “It’s vitally important to monitor and coordinate not only the user and control plane, but also the policy decisions operators put in place to manage their networks, to make sure they actually get implemented correctly,” he said.

The new LTE and evolved packet core monitoring and assurance capabilities will be available as a software upgrade beginning in the fourth quarter.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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