PCTEL streamlines in-building wireless testing

SeeHawk IBTS is designed to help carriers, neutral host providers, venue owners, DAS integrators, and RF engineers visualize and characterize their in-building wireless environments.

At the LTE World Summit 2013 in Amsterdam, PCTEL (NASDAQ: PCTI) announced the availability of its SeeHawk In-Building Test Suite (IBTS). Billed as a complete platform for "in-building baseline and optimization testing for planning, building, and maintaining in-building wireless systems," the SeeHawk IBTS is designed to help carriers, neutral host providers, venue owners, DAS integrators, and RF engineers visualize and characterize their in-building wireless environments.

The SeeHawk IBTS solution is intended to make in-building testing faster and easier, with more reliable results. Instead of manually entering channel numbers provided by third parties, test engineers can use a Blind Scan feature to automatically identify all active channels in and around a test site. At the platform's core is a PCTEL SeeGull MX or EX scanning receiver (new or previously purchased) configured to customer requirements. PCTEL’s SeeHawk 2.4 software with Indoor Mode Option makes it easy to collect and visualize data on a tablet or laptop. Finally, PCTEL’s In-Building Walk Test Kit includes a backpack, battery and accessories designed to enable engineers to easily walk test in-building venues.

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Missing or incomplete channel lists will result in inaccurate baseline surveys, leading to in-building network design errors. Network design errors can also result from a loss of GPS time alignment for CDMA/EV-DO networks due to the absence of GPS line-of-sight in an in-building environment. To alleviate these problems, the SeeHawk IBTS platform's GPS Holdover feature maintains accurate time alignment and allows the reporting of accurate cell identification. This capability is crucial to the in-building testing of CDMA/EVDO networks, notes PCTEL.

SeeHawk IBTS also has the ability to simultaneously collect measurements across a series of bands and technologies from multiple carriers -- in a single walk test -- thereby eliminating unnecessary costs for additional data collections. For LTE MIMO networks, the platform's parameters help customers to accurately identify throughput issues, which are critical to improving network efficiency and alleviating the spectrum crunch. According to the company, the SeeHawk IBTS’s advanced measurement capabilities will become increasingly relevant as carriers use LTE networks to deploy high-definition voice services, which require consistently high data throughput rates.

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The SeeHawk platform and the SeeGull EX and MX simplify both in-building data collection and on-site problem solving. The SeeHawk IBTS allows users to load and register floor plans, establish “landmarks,” and save testing routes. Intuitive charting and highly illustrative “before and after” propagation maps can be used to quickly judge a network’s performance and make adjustments on the fly, while SeeHawk’s real-time event reporting and mapping enables users to instantly identify problem areas and issues.

PCTEL’s network engineers used the SeeHawk IBTS on a recent service project at a Texas convention center. PCTEL was able to collect and report data from 39 different band/channel combinations simultaneously across AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS networks. Using a conventional solution, it would have taken up to four times as long to collect the same data, contends the company. PCTEL will showcase its SeeHawk IBTS along with its portfolio of scanning receiver products in Booth #35 at the LTE World Summit 2013, June 25-26 in Amsterdam.

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