Unique TaaS option enables Wi-Fi manufacturers to access the most sophisticated test procedures on an as-required basis
Available to customers globally, the service is based at Spirent’s Massachusetts research facility where OCTOBOX testbeds are developed and manufactured. This allows Spirent to easily scale up and down testing services for customers based on their ever-changing needs and leverage the company’s unrivalled Wi-Fi emulation and testing expertise. The Spirent lab also provides test environments that are engineered with optimized hardware to ensure all devices are validated against the highest quality standards accepted for deployment by carriers and enterprises, such as TR-398 and RFC 2544.
“While many test facilities use software-based testbeds, these are unable to perform realistic test scenarios that model actual deployments,” said Roberts. “They often lack the ability to produce deterministic results which is essential for repeatability. By utilizing our OCTOBOX testbeds along with our automation framework, we emulate real world scenarios such as congestion, interference, distance, and movement – all of which affect the quality of the user experience.”
For more information about Spirent’s Test as a Service for Wi-Fi Devices, visit.
Going on two decades, Wi-Fi has delivered simple, inexpensive wireless connectivity for the masses. It was never perfect, but the convenience and generally fine performance for most applications made it good enough for most.
Now, the stakes are higher.
Consumers are requiring more demanding use cases and more powerful apps. Despite its promises, 5G connectivity remains limited. This has meant everyone from personal to enterprise users have been leaning heavier than ever on Wi-Fi to meet connectivity needs.
This has been a driving force behind a whole new generation of Wi-Fi tech and adoption. Whether working or playing from home, we expect Wi-Fi to operate flawlessly with high performance and reliability. This is especially true as Wi-Fi cements a role in mission-critical private networks that support emerging industry applications.
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E are being positioned to meet these new roles and requirements. The new Wi-Fi standards provide distributed connectivity, high throughput, and low latency. In particular, the radio interface has received an overhaul, with modulation and spectral efficiency on a completely new level.
Wi-Fi 6 routers, extenders, and mesh networks are being installed in homes and offices to provide wider coverage, support more users, and accommodate a growing range of devices. Each brings pros and cons, but whichever is chosen, it is safe to say Wi-Fi networks have evolved far beyond initial roles as simple routers.
In fact, the changes seen in Wi-Fi 6/6E introduce challenges that are in some ways more significant than the migration from 4G to 5G.
New Wi-Fi complexity means device testing has grown in complexity, too
As expectations of Wi-Fi surge, so too does the need for precise, comprehensive . As always, testing must address conformance to standards, interoperability, and performance. With Wi-Fi, many factors can impact performance, such as walls, electrical interference, , signal reflection, and other Wi-Fi and wireless usage in the area. All Wi-Fi 6/6E devices must be tested against these factors in controlled, repeatable ways.
Wi-Fi 6/6E sees multiple standards in play, including TR-398 performance for routers and access points, RFC-2544 network device benchmarking specification, and others in the offing. Still, as this next generation of Wi-Fi comes to market quickly, comprehensive test and interoperability standards have yet to be developed.
As such, testing Wi-Fi 6/6E devices has become more complicated than traditional Wi-Fi device testing. Trying to test manually not only makes little economic sense, but it has become nearly impossible.
Automated testing of Wi-Fi 6/6E devices
To overcome the complexity of testing a growing number of Wi-Fi 6/6E devices, automated device hardware and software testing is essential for cost-efficient, scalable, accurate, timely, and repeatable results.
Traditionally, test teams must research and keep up to date with evolving standards to create and execute tests. Alternatively, automated Wi-Fi automation packages from test experts like Spirent can be leveraged. Such automated test packages reflect existing standards and, where standards don’t yet exist such as for mesh networks, expertly define appropriate tests. Executing automated test software on your testbed enables fast, 24×7 testing. And all those resources that were grinding through test scenarios can instead put energies into evaluating results.
Spirent Wi-Fi 6/6E automated test packages
Spirent, the Wi-Fi testing market leader, offers a wireless test bed that validates Wi-Fi networks and devices. Its software automation packages automate standards-based Wi-Fi test plans to assess conformance, interoperability, and performance.
To accelerate Wi-Fi 6/6E testing, test automation packages spanning mesh interoperability performance testing of devices and device performance evaluation through RFC 2544 benchmark tests have been developed.
Learn more about howcan enable you to quickly assess Wi-Fi device conformance to standards, interoperability, and performance.
The advancement of technology has done great things for society. Today, innovations from autonomous vehicles to advanced pacemakers rely on more than microprocessors and software but the underlying network that seamlessly connects everything together. Yet issues with connectivity – from poor latency to instability under certain scenarios – can have a massive impact on the viability of many critical use cases. For both device manufacturers and service providers, network assurance testing is of paramount importance – but it’s a task that is becoming increasingly complex due to the highly varied array of network types and usage scenarios that must be validated.
This need to simplify and improve these assurance processes is one of the reasons whybecame a single company last March. Everybody in the industry knows that OCTOBOX is a leading testbed for automated validation of Wi-Fi networks and devices. Even when we were rivals, from an engineer’s standpoint, we could not help admiring the compact yet stackable approach that made it easy to create a robust testbed suited to a wide variety of scenarios.
However, as Spirent, before we joined forces, we still had many joint customers that needed to perform more specialist assurance scenarios that were not well suited to OCTOBOX. Especially for granular channel emulation or for use cases where complex mobility was involved. For these customers, it meant potentially setting up dual test beds running Spirent and OCTOBOX products for very different workloads. This also required integrating these disparate solutions and then trying to tie the data together into a coherent set of results. Not an impossible task but far from ideal.
In a world getting more complex, this highlights one of the fundamental benefits of our union – the ability to create new products that combine our expertise and technologies into a better overall solution. A coherent approach that is not only easier to use but also more suited to the diversity of use cases that we are all seeing across our modern society. It has been nearly a year of intense engineering work, but the first fruits of that vision have ripened. We are proud to announce the launch of an integrated solution that combines the modular nature of OCTOBOX with, our channel emulator able to replicate the comprehensive noise and spatial conditions of even the most complex wireless channels.
In simple terms, we now have a solution that combines best in class traffic emulation, channel emulation and performance evaluation into an integrated platform. And this arrives at a time where we are seeing an explosion in new devices like wearables and industrial IoT along with a major shift due to the emergence of 5G that will spawn new use cases that will really push legacy testing methodologies. No matter the vertical market, we are all being forced to answer new questions: How will this device work on an airplane’s Wi-Fi network from take-off to landing? What happens if a medical device loses connection as it’s being moved between hospital wards? What impact will load have on network latency for a particular sensor used on a busy factory production line? Can an autonomous vehicle seamlessly move between 5G and Wi-Fi based control without incident? We could ask pages and pages of questions like these that need to be answered before innovation can go from the drawing board to real world application!
Keep it simple
There are literally hundreds of scenarios where the answers will not just impact physical product design, but also have a ripple effect on device placement and day-to-day operating procedures. Making it easier to simulate these scenarios, gain answers and then adapt to change is fundamentally important for everybody concerned with test and assurance.
Even with our integrated OCTOBOX / Vertex solution now heading out into the field for real world use, this ongoing strategy to overcome complexity will continue. Other ways in which we can integrate the best of octoScope and third-party technologies into better solutions continues within our R&D teams. It must, because we know that the world will always find new ways to blend technology and connectivity to create amazing ideas. Hopefully, we can equip the people who make sure these things work in the real world with the right tools to get this vital job done efficiently and accurately with simple-to-use platforms.
As the demand for 5G and Wi-Fi 6 continues to grow at a rapid pace and their standards become increasingly entwined, there has never been a better time to look at the possibility of convergence between the two technologies.
There are more than 16 billion wireless devices in the world today, driving $3.3 trillion in global economic value. The industry will ship an additional 4 billion Wi-Fi devices in 2021 alone.
This incredible growth is driven not only by existing use cases, but also emerging ones. From shopping malls and office buildings to factories and hospitals, reliance on Wi-Fi is pervasive and there’s a heightened priority to rigorously test Wi-Fi products before they ship.
Tech thought leader Diana Adams recently joined me to talk about key insights from Spirent’s new eBook, Testing Wi-Fi for High-Performance Use Cases. Watch the video below as we discuss how Wi-Fi testing today is critical for tomorrow’s wireless world.
To learn more about Wi-Fi testing,.
High-performance use cases such as Work From Home, industrial IoT, telehealth and 4K streaming video are driving adoption of a new generation of Wi-Fi connectivity. These use cases come with high expectations even as the complexity of Wi-Fi networks and the interoperability challenges surge. How can service providers and vendors ensure Wi-Fi 6/6E and beyond deliver the performance their customers demand? They must thoroughly test new Wi-Fi products and services in controlled, repeatable conditions that mimic the real-world.
Learn how to validate 802.11 WLAN AP and device performance, ensure network security, maximize service coverage.
You could say there’s an inverse correlation between how easy Wi-Fi has made broadband connectivity and how complicated mass market Wi-Fi device testing has become. Consider the plight of service providers and device makers tasked with testing Wi-Fi in recent years: constantly acquiring multiple pieces of testing equipment from multiple vendors, managing integrations, adding more and more test chambers with more antennas, running substantial cabling between antennas and chambers, and figuring out how to properly isolate components for repeatable testing. That was challenging enough when Wi-Fi was a mostly standalone, consumer-focused technology. But with Wi-Fi 6 underpinning new high-performance service offerings and expanding 5G convergence on the horizon, “complicated” can no longer be tolerated when it comes to testing.
This escalating challenge served as the backdrop for Spirent’s recent acquisition of. When I founded octoScope to streamline Wi-Fi testing, the burdens on the teams actually doing the testing were already mounting. Now, with Wi-Fi 6 and 5G poised to join forces to address trends across #WFH, industry 4.0, healthcare anywhere, fixed wireless access, and far beyond, stakeholders simply don’t have time for testing headaches. With that in mind, it’s no longer feasible for service providers and device makers to continue trying to make do with homegrown testbed solutions. Not when profitability, smooth customer experiences and time-to-market are on the line.
“It’s no longer feasible for service providers and device makers to continue trying to make do with homegrown testbed solutions. Not when profitability, smooth customer experiences and time-to-market are on the line.”
Wi-Fi 6 driving new testing needs
The complexity of traditional Wi-Fi testing environments has steadily grown over time. There were roaming, handoffs and mesh networks to be tested across access points and devices using dozens of pieces of testing equipment and hardware from multiple providers. All those devices under test and test systems had to be isolated in an array of chambers and interconnected via hundreds of cable connections, as expanding needs like traffic loading and ever-increasing numbers of antennas were added to the equation.
Wi-Fi 6 and now Wi-Fi 6E, fueled by more than a gigahertz of new spectrum in several countries, introduces even more testing requirements. More capacity, longer battery life, latency improvements, extended range, throughput increases, QoS guarantees, even more users – and it all has to be repeatable across a range of environments.
Service providers and device makers can’t keep running to multiple vendors for standards-based and high-performance testing and they can’t be consumed with managing a complex array of chambers and antennas and the cabling between them. Really, there’s only one way forward: a complete solution that can be deployed quickly and configured for precisely the new testing needs at hand. With Wi-Fi 6/6E, a turnkey, modular approach to testing has emerged not as a nice-to-have, but a necessity.
“There’s only one way forward: a complete solution that can be deployed quickly and configured for precisely the new testing needs at hand. With Wi-Fi 6/6E, a turnkey, modular approach to testing has emerged not as a nice-to-have, but a necessity.”
Defining a complete Wi-Fi test platform, on-demand
A modern, unified Wi-Fi testing platform built to accommodate traditional and emerging requirements will be capable of delivering channel emulation, testbed automation, full layer 2-7 testing and load testing – but only as needed in the moment. A modular approach addresses the full range of needs any service provider or device maker would bring, from standards-based and pre-certification testing, all the way through to advanced options for high-performance testing. It is supported by highly-realistic channel and network traffic emulation that allows stress testing based on real-world conditions.
Streamlining Wi-F 6 testing requires a modular approach that allows automated testbeds consisting of isolation chambers, antennas, emulators and test instruments to be rapidly configured and deployed.
Today, Wi-Fi chipset, access point, residential gateway and connected device vendors rightly place a premium on automation and ease of integration to existing systems when selecting Wi-Fi testbeds. In response, a comprehensive testing solution must support automated benchmarking of product performance and validation of functionality and scalability, while presenting simple interfaces and options for integration with existing lab automation.
On the service provider side, operators offering a Wi-Fi service place a high value on automation and ease of use when selecting Wi-Fi testbeds. Their focus is on home and business network environments that “just work” and provide high levels of service that reduce call center inquiries, truck rolls and churn. Delivering this experience at scale to upwards of millions of customers for a range of environments means automated test and assurance processes are a must. In enterprise environments, SLAs for Wi-Fi will increasingly become a reality and pre-deployment testing will go a long way toward ensuring service providers meet promises. From device performance validation and vendor selection to pre-deployment testing, software upgrade testing and recreation of field issues for problem solving, automation will be the common denominator amongst successful Wi-Fi 6 deployments.
The path ahead for better Wi-Fi testing
Modular solutions capable of generating highly-realistic traffic, authentically replicating a range of deployment environments, reducing traditional complexity headaches and supporting automated, repeatable testing scenarios represent the new must-haves for Wi-Fi testing. With octoScope now part of the Spirent family of test solutions, we’re better positioned than ever to offer the industry a one-stop shop for these must-haves, while pursuing octoScope’s original mission of streamlining Wi-Fi testing with a renewed sense of purpose and urgency.
Best effort. That about sums up expectations of Wi-Fi among daily users. In the coffee shop? Airport? The park? Our homes? We take what we can get. Some networks are better than others, but in the end, it’s always been “just Wi-Fi.”
Lately, the emergence of use cases for work from home (WFH), small business, hospitals, factories, and IoT, and the onslaught of Covid, has elevated the importance of Wi-Fi, pushing it into the role of global wireless workhorse for our generation, and we expect, for the future. Yet, for all the performance demands being placed on Wi-Fi, it is tested infrequently and inconsistently. This stands in stark contrast to mobile networks, which are tested extensively by operators.
But this is changing. The rapid evolution of use cases, introduction of Wi-Fi 6/6E, rivaling 5G tech and Wi-Fi’s anticipated convergence and harmonization with 5G represent a sea change. The latest tech advancements see Wi-Fi all grown up, with new responsibilities and expectations, and all the complexities of a mature, sophisticated technology. Especially for indoor environments, Wi-Fi 6/6E has the potential to rival what 5G can deliver, at a fraction of the cost.
Considering the COVID-19 impact on Wi-Fi in the wireless ecosystem – which won’t likely change post-pandemic – service providers (SPs) will need to “up their game” to deliver the performance and QoS required to continue the productivity gains and economic trends established pre-pandemic. But offering bulletproof performance requires operators to adopt unprecedented, advanced testing and validation strategies.
In this new era of Wi-Fi, there’s no more room for error. Performance issues won’t just get a shoulder shrug. They’ll impact business revenues. Degrade user experiences. They’ll affect the bottom line. Meanwhile, competitive pressures will intensify at an accelerating velocity. Speed to market for a host of new devices with expanded feature sets will drive competitive battles. Just as importantly, it will necessitate a completely new approach to testing.
“Competitive pressures will intensify at an accelerating velocity. Speed to market for a host of new devices with expanded feature sets will drive competitive battles. Just as importantly, it will necessitate a completely new approach to testing.”
Goodbye disaggregation, hello results
, octoScope founder (and now Senior VP of Wi-Fi Products with Spirent) Fanny Mlinarsky, discussed the rising urgency to streamline and automate Wi-Fi testing. Homegrown, multi-vendor testing shops based on garden-variety test products just weren’t meant for scale. Originally, within the more confined requirements of Wi-Fi’s earlier incarnation, they got the job done. But now, with Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E offering customers 5G speeds and latency, based on a new set of standards, it’s a non-starter.
Today, Spirent recognizes a critical opportunity to evolve from slow and expensive DIY testing to turnkey, configurable Wi-Fi test suites that deliver a seamlessly integrated testbed. All without prohibitively large and expensive chambers typically employed for performance testing that comprised previous approaches.
Evolution to a unified approach to Wi-Fi testing
It should be noted that a unified solution does more than just streamline processes – it impacts business outcomes.
Moving ahead, operators and device makers don’t want to buy test equipment – they want to buy results. And they need them as quickly as possible. Testing is emerging as not just a checkpoint before launch, but a driver of innovation itself. Wi-Fi 6 won’t be possible with a best-effort approach. It must be about maximizing performance results and getting them to market rapidly with advanced unified solutions.
Wi-Fi testing strategies for success
Spirent recognizes five key strategies forthat merit serious consideration:
Wi-Fi’s new role in WFH, along with new use cases for small business, hospitals, factories, IoT, and Wi-Fi 6’s promise, all represent a world of opportunity where this ubiquitous connectivity tech finally stands on its own as a highly capable, and highly performant solution for complex devices, services and access environments. But Wi-Fi’s full potential can only now be achieved with an evolved and holistic advanced test strategy that mirrors the ambitions of the technology itself.
octoBox software 2.0 brings new dashboard mode, improved graphics and multiPerf® traffic tool
The new software leverages the power of parallel databuses and processing built into all the octoBox testbeds, allowing them to be used for emulation of multipoint-to-multipoint test scenarios involving dozens of real devices, while providing real-time feedback of the test progress and results.
Fanny Mlinarsky, founder of octoScope, and Senior Vice President of Wi-Fi Products at Spirent, said “octoBox software 2.0 greatly improves the productivity of the wireless test engineer and solidifies octoScope’s position as the easiest to use testbed in the Wi-Fi industry.”
octoScope is a Spirent company.