Spectra2 XL3 handles LTE core testing

-June 18, 2013

Recently, Tektronix Communications announced the Spectra2 XL3 tool for testing evolved packet core (EPC) and IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) elements for mobile LTE and fixed IP networks. Performing Diameter, VoIP/TDM and media testing, the XL3 is a third-generation hardware platform that hosts the Spectra2 IMS and EPC test application. With this new product, Tektronix Communications aims to help equipment manufacturers and service providers to reduce the capital and operational costs associated with testing IMS and EPC elements.

I spoke with Christian Buhlmann, vice president & general manager Core Test Business and Prakash Kanthi, senior product marketing manager, about the Spectra2 XL3 tool. The problem the developers set out to address with this product was this: customers simply cannot simulate the network load. “Using available open-source software, it is not possible to build complex scenarios,” says Buhlmann, “Our solution can do both functional testing and load testing at the same time, putting high loads on the data and signaling network.”

Buhlmann goes on to point out that no comparative solution can do both functional and load testing. He notes the cost of 10G test interfaces, that run about $100,000-200,000 per blade. “We look to build out the server using off-the-shelf abilities that we also use in our 10G PCIe cards (that have been developed in Danaher and are commercially available), which we adapted for the Spectra XL3 tool,” adds Bulmann. He says that this product can drive 80 Gb/s of line rate at a low price point.

Kanthi reports that the new network testing tool can generate simultaneous streams on the IMS core of close to a million messages/second, and on the RTP side, close to half a million calls. Spectra2 provides the capability to test AAA, services, and policy management functions including Diameter routing agents (DRA). The following is a list of protocols/interfaces supported:

Diameter Testing
• Policy Interfaces – Rx, Gx, S9, Gxa/Gxb/Gxc
• HSS Interfaces – Cx/Dx, Sh/Dh, S6a/S6d
• Charging Interfaces – Ro/Gy, Rf/Gz
• EIR Interfaces – S13/S13’*
• AAA Interfaces – S6b*, STa*
• NGN Interfaces – Rq, Gq/Gq’, E2/E4

VoIP/TDM Testing
• Signaling Protocols – SIP, Diameter, H.323, Megaco, XCAP, RTSP, HTTP
and TCAP
• Signaling Transports – IP, SIGTRAN (M2PA, M3UA)
• IP Versions – IPv4 and IPv6

Media Testing
• Capabilities – Inject, Detect, DTMF and Capture
• Codecs – G.711, G.723, G.726, G.729, AMR WB/NB, EVRC, H.263/H.263+,
H.264, T.38
• QoS – Active and Passive, Audio and Video, PESQ, MOS

In Europe, regulations for LTE roaming are expected to go into effect in July next year. As a result, many operators are making plans to operate with alternate routing providers, and the Spectra2 tool can enable those test scenarios. One challenge associated with network testing is that all of the operators have a multi-vendor networks, so interoperability testing is critical. Tektronix Communications wants everyone in the supply chain to make reference to the same baseline.

So, how does the testing work? The software application itself is customized in protocols and codex. After that, you connect to device under test and initiate a script (the test you want to run against a device). Users can use built-in test cases or automated features, or they can port tests from previous generation Spectra tools. “Users can script 30 scenarios on Spectra2 in the time they can script one on a competitor’s product,” claims Kanthi, who points out ease of use is one of the features they concentrated on.

The system itself takes up a 2U rack space and is equipped with 64GB memory and hot swappable 300GB RAID-1 storage.

Price & Availability:
Currently Available
Contact Tektronix Communications for pricing
More information:
Product web page

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