Testing Narrowband IoT Deployments

By Chrishmal Fernando

The last 12 months have been an interesting period for our iTelaSoft IoT team, especially with some dominant changes taking place in the mobile service providers space. Around the world, many telco operators got busy deploying a new service capability for IoT communication called Narrowband IoT. This allows a large number of IoT devices to get connected directly to application infrastructure over the cellular mobile network. To manage hundreds of thousands of devices and massive amount of data payloads, telco operators started building next generation message hubs and device management platforms.

iTelaSoft went through a series of engagements to test some of the European narrowband deployments and ensure the load handling capability and protocol requirements of diverse and massive sensory networks. This helped in uncovering performance and compliance bottlenecks, not only in the network, but also in the message broker infrastructure, eventually enabling a robust narrowband network for their IoT customers.

In order to perform the above tests and scale them out, iTelaSoft developed a unique platform for narrowband testing & performance monitoring. “Narrowband Test Platform” is a centrally managed, but remotely deployable toolkit for testing IoT data capabilities including coverage, signal strength, protocols, latencies and device power consumption. It is a platform that can be used for deployment testing, message broker performance testing, site testing, drive testing and long-term performance monitoring. Key Features include,

  • Centrally managed/controlled platform
  • Distributed test/metering devices (deployed in desired locations across the network)
  • Extensible architecture
  • Extensible test scenarios
  • Automatic test execution and reporting

The platform can be used in IoT Capability deployments, NB-IoT (Cat-NB1) and LTE-M (Cat-M1) application deployment planning, and narrowband network availability/performance testing and diagnostics. Out of the box, the platform supports tests on UDP, TCP, HTTP, MQTT, CoAP and LWM2M. It is also capable of testing secure channels over TLS or DTLS.

The test execution device is rack mountable and capable of testing IoT data capabilities including coverage, signal strength, protocols, latencies and power consumption of Narrowband IoT modules. Each device houses multiple narrowband modules so that it allows multiple simultaneous test execution and load simulation.

The central control centre is a web portal for commanding and monitoring all the functionalities of connected text execution devices. It supports remote device provisioning and management, user management, defining tests, invoking tests, test scheduling and data visualization and analysis.

Due to the demand for more broader tests, with a wide variety of radio access technologies, we recently extended the platform with the ability to handle test scenarios with USSD, GSM Voice, Non IP Messaging, VoLTE etc. With the upgraded platform and new generation test execution devices, we are able to provide a wider test scope and more comprehensive network testing, not limited to narrowband IoT.

Chrishmal

Chrishmal
Iot Team