For the best possible results, your test lab needs to make use of the absolute latest in cutting edge technology. Because this is the arena in which you test changes and additions to your network—including new connected devices like the internet of things (IoT)—you need to find a way to replicate existing network conditions as closely as possible. Otherwise, you might test out new service offerings or network adjustments in a lab setting only to find that your service doesn’t work correctly under real life conditions—which could result in costly delays, outages, and potential subscriber churn.
One of the biggest concerns we hear from telco operators looking to automate their tests is the relative ease or difficulty of test case scripting. Telecoms aren’t typically staffed with a huge number of technically proficient developers, and a complex testcase scripting language would therefore make it difficult to leverage non-technical personnel in the testing process. This is an eminently reasonable concern. After all, the fewer people there are in your organization who can understand the tests being performed, the more likely you are to find yourself saddled with a testing silo—which could potentially lead to slower bug fixes and poor alignment between testing and other functions.
Let’s say you’re in a management position at prominent European network provider, and you’re trying to assess network quality. Some of your biggest questions are about testing: How quickly are your regression test suites running after network updates? How frequently do your tests uncover bugs, and how do those bugs get resolved? To gain answers to some of these questions, you contact your test team, who send you the most recent test reports—but you can’t make heads or tails of them, and your questions remain unanswered.
Let’s say that after all these years you’re finally ditching your legacy billing system in favor of something new and shiny. For a while now you’ve been hearing about the OSS/BSS solutions of the future, with their unprecedented ability to integrate with IP networks, and you’ve finally decided to take the plunge. When all is said and done, you’ll have transitioned from a system that was basically designed to tally up voice usage and SMS traffic to spit out appropriate bills, to something that offers your customers real-time tracking of their data usage so that they can manage their behavior accordingly. This has the potential to be a huge win, but there’s just one problem: how do you make sure it’s working?
Let’s say you have a small system whose functionality you want to test, and you determine that there are five distinct use cases that require verification. As a technically-adept test engineer with a fair amount of programming skill, what do you do? In all likelihood, you simply script up each test case individually, so that for each use case there’s a unique piece of code that needs to run in order to make sure that everything is working smoothly. This makes sense, and as test automation has become more common (in some sectors, anyway), we've seen a lot more people doing just that. For a limited number of test cases, this is probably the smart thing to do. But what happens when it’s not half a dozen use cases that require scripting, but hundreds or thousands?
Sometimes, the OS that comes built into an Apple or Android device can seem like it’s actively preventing you from doing what you want. And, to some extent, that’s true—Apple only lets you download the apps that are in the App Store because there are some actions that they want to prevent you from taking. As an end user, this often seems capricious and arbitrary. As a tester, it feels similar: why shouldn’t you be allowed to make the necessary changes and additions to the phone’s functionality to make end-to-end testing easier?
If you’re a telco test engineer, you know that the world of telecommunications is getting more complex by the day. Your service needs to integrate with more devices than ever, and you still have to maintain interworking with any number of legacy systems. This is driving an increase in the number of test cases that require verification, and also a renewed push towards automation across the field. Whether you’re selecting an automation solution or simply trying to keep your testing process as efficient as possible, it’s important to keep tabs on the new challenges and opportunities that are likely to be coming down the pike.
Backward compatibility is a noble goal for any communication system. For telecom networks in particular, it's an important part of providing seamless coverage across legacy platforms, which means you can keep customers happy without forcing them to upgrade their service constantly. By placing an emphasis on service in this way, you can help protect revenue over time. That said, ensuring legacy integration can often provide challenges for operators.
One of the most significant ways in which the rise of mobile phones and laptops has changed the business world is encouraging a tremendous increase in mobility. Not only are employees at many businesses able to telecommute more easily than ever before, folks traveling for business are able to stay connected so effectively that it can feel like they’ve never left the office at all. For obvious reasons, this makes life easier and more pleasant for a lot of folks, all while helping to make truly global enterprises more connected than ever. The cost of this increased freedom, however, is a subsequent increase in complexity for telco operators.
The pace of technological change has been speeding up at a seemingly unprecedented pace in the 21st century, and in few places is that more evident than in the telecom sector. Just a few short decades have taken us from what would now be considered legacy telephony through 4 generations of broadband cellular networks—with a fifth on the way. In the meantime, things like VoLTE and VoWiFi have become commonplace offerings in your typical telco operator’s portfolio. The race to provide new service offerings and update the functionality of existing ones is underway, and it’s already pretty heated.