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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

First commercialized test solution for 4G

October 17th, 2012 by Susan Smith

Spirent Communications,  a leader in testing wireless networks, services and devices, recently announced immediate availability of the first commercialized test solution for LTE assisted GPS (A-GPS) Over-The Air (OTA) Testing. This is a co-development effort by Spirent and ETS-Lindgren, two leaders in location testing.

Brock Butler, Director of Wireless Location Technology for Spirent Communications was interviewed by GISCafe Voice about this important announcement:
1)      What is LTE assisted GPS and why is it important?

Long Term Evolution (LTE), often called 4G, technology is being incorporated into many next-generation consumer devices, including smartphones.  It enables voice and high speed wireless data services. Nearly all consumer devices migrating to LTE also have a strong need to provide positioning capabilities. The leading technology for positioning remains Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) such as GPS (United States satellite system) or GLONASS (Russian satellite system). Assisted GNSS (e.g. A-GPS) uses an assistance server to provide satellite information to the mobile device and when coupled to a cellular technology like LTE, A-GNSS can provide improved location performance by making position fixes faster particularly at the very low power levels often associated with consumer usage in urban and indoor environments.

In A-GPS, the network operator must deploy an A-GPS server.  There are two modes of A-GPS:

1.  Mobile Station Assisted (MSA) – in MSA mode, the A-GPS capable device receives assistance information from the A-GPS server and sends the measurements to the A-GPS calculate the position.
2.  Mobile Station Based (MSB) – In MSB mode, the A-GPS device receives assistance data from the A-GPS server and signals from visible satellites. The mobile device calculates the position.

2) What impact does this commercialized test solution have on the Geospatial market and on the commercial GPS market?

Provision of accurate everywhere location information (precise location in all environments, including indoors) using LTE is becoming an integral feature of every smartphone and a growing number of handheld navigation devices as the demand for location-based services (LBS) grows and the requirements for emergency services are becoming stricter (e.g. FCC requirements for E911).  The most accurate positioning methodology is A-GNSS so the complete testing of this technology is essential to the successful deployment of the next-generation mobile device.

The only way to achieve a complete picture of real-world device performance and its effect on end-user experience of LBS applications, is to utilize an Over-The-Air (OTA) test methodology that can assess the GNSS antennas and other device factors in a controlled radiated environment (e.g. anechoic chamber).

A key aspect of this testing is that all signals are transmitted and received wirelessly, as they are in the real world.  This ensures that all interaction factors between the radio and the rest of the wireless platform, including radiation pattern and platform interference, are taken into account when determining overall wireless performance.

3) Can you define the partnership between Spirent and ETS Lindgren?

Spirent Communications is the industry leader in location technology testing, and ETS Lindgren is the industry leader in Over The Air (OTA) test solutions.  Spirent and ETS have collaborated for many years in developing complete OTA test systems that enable the wireless operators and mobile device manufacturers to successfully deploy A-GPS enabled devices in markets around the world.

Spirent has long-standing expertise in satellite system simulation and partners with ETS Lindgren’s for their expertise on testing mobile devices in a controlled radiated environment via anechoic chambers.  Together they deliver an OTA test solution that is able to quantify and benchmark real-world positioning performance by providing a complete “snapshot” of the performance of the device under test in all directions.

4) How recent is A-GPS and why is it important?

A-GPS became widely deployed in North America after the FCC issued Enhanced 911 (E911) requirements to all wireless services providers in 2000.  It has since become the dominant location technology worldwide for mobile devices equipped with wireless cellular capability.

Standards for A-GPS have been defined by the various industry groups for generations of mobile phones including:

§  GSM:  3gpp defined the Radio Resource Location Protocol (RRLP) to support positioning protocol on GSM networks

§  CDMA2000: TIA defined TIA 801 protocol for CDMA2000 networks

§  UMTS: 3gpp defined Radio Resource Control (RRC) position protocol for UMTS networks.

§  LTE:

o   3gpp defined LTE Positioning Protocol (LPP) for LTE networks

o   OMA defined the Secure User Plane Location protocol (SUPL1.0 and SUPL2.0) for packet-switched networks

A-GPS is important because:

§  It can enable location information even in very poor signal conditions via use of the assistance data from the network.

§  Standalone GPS needs to retrieve orbital information of the satellites to calculate the current position and this typically takes long whereas A-GPS can download this information from the A-GPS server and calculate the device position in significantly less time.

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Categories: LBS, location based services, mobile

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