A combination of hardware and software tools from Spirent and TestQuest will allow carriers to automate dialling, emulate a cellular network and monitor what a subscriber would see on a handset, said Nigel Wright, director of strategic planning at Spirent Communications' wireless unit.
For example, the test system will be able to command one handset to send a message to another and then detect whether that message was displayed correctly on the receiving handset.
Typically, carriers have had to set up a network and have staff carry out test scripts to try different combinations of handsets, software and infrastructure. As handsets and applications have proliferated and become more complex, this has become a time-consuming process.
Wright said that because most handset vendors have a different test system for every handset, some carriers have 35 or 40 different tools to control handsets in a test. That in turn causes concern about their larger business case for generating higher revenue through mobile data services.
"They're very concerned that if users are not delighted with [mobile data services], that business case won't pan out," Wright said.
Spirent is testing third-generation (3G) CDMA2000 1x handsets and networks, as well as 2G CDMA systems. In the second half of next year it plans to expand its offerings to include test systems for the next generation of CDMA, called CDMA2000 1xEV-DO (Evolution-Data Only), and to Universal Mobile Telecommunications System 9 (UMTS).
Testing will initially be aimed at Short Message Service (SMS), with test systems becoming available late in the first quarter. The next target is Multimedia Message Service (MMS), for which test systems will be out in the second quarter.
SMS allows users to send text messages as long as 160 characters from one phone to another and MMS allows them to include images and video and audio clips along with a text message.