Case Study: Mobile Network Testing

Large-scale, 24/7 mobile quality monitoring and service level verification

At a glance

At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers probe the fundamental structure of the universe. CERN’s flagship, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), has a massive underground infrastructure that consists of a 27-kilometer ring of superconducting magnets at an average depth of 100 meters. A mobile network designed for CERN’s needs, with a mix of above-ground and underground infrastructure, ensures area-wide communications. To monitor and measure communications services in line with service level agreements (SLA), an extensive network of SwissQual’s QualiPoc Remote Control network probes has been installed below and above ground.

Executive summary

  • Customer:CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), Geneva, Switzerland
  • Task: Large-scale monitoring system for SLA verification
  • Challenge: Remotely controlled, 24/7 wide-spread network monitoring below and above ground
  • Solution: SwissQual QualiPoc Remote Control, NetQual suite
  • Key benefits: Fully compliant with specifications, costefficient, highly reliable

Use case details

Tunnel system hosting the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located some 100 meters underground.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), financed by 21 Member States (CERN convention), is located outside Geneva, Switzerland, and operates the largest particle physics laboratory worldwide. The most important and impressive part of the lab is "invisible", located some 100 meters underground. A circular tunnel system with a circumference of 27 kilometers includes a particle accelerator ring called the Large Hadron Collider, which is considered the largest and most complex machine in the world. Thousands of scientists, researchers and engineers work in this sprawling area and must be reachable by mobile phone 24/7, also when they are underground.

CERN commissioned a leading Swiss mobile network operator to provide infrastructure and services to run a mobile network specifically designed to meet CERN’s needs. It comprises several surface radio base stations and 46 underground repeater sites. To offer mobile telephony and data services in underground tunnels and caverns, CERN set up a leaky feeder infrastructure covering 60 km to support 2G/3G/4G technologies. To monitor realtime service quality (QoS/QoE) in line with SLAs, CERN selected the QualiPoc Remote Control from SwissQual, a Rohde & Schwarz subsidiary.

Solution

SwissQual network monitoring solution QualiPoc Remote Control probe.

CERN evaluated QualiPoc Remote Control based on comprehensive technical specifications. The solution won the competitive call for tenders and met CERN’s stringent criteria in terms of compactness, reliability, energy consumption, flexibility and cost.

QualiPoc Remote Control use-case-specific benefits:

  • Standard smartphone-based network probe enabling economical, remotely controlled, large-scale deployments
  • Compact, robust hardware offers active ventilation, backup battery and wall-mounting options
  • Supports all mobile network technologies used worldwide and provides information about the full network status – from the application layer down to layer 1
  • Provides extensive test functions for voice (incl. voice and video MOS), data, video streaming and messaging tests to assess and reflect the real QoS/QoE end-user experience
  • Fully featured backend application for remote configuration, realtime monitoring and alarming, post-processing and reporting

The 60 probes deployed networkwide continuously measure multiple RF parameters (KPIs, signaling, layer 3) and run scheduled QoS/QoE tests to verify SLAs and monitor communications services. The data is reported to a central server unit via http/ftp. A fully featured backend provides a realtime network overview and allows remote configuration, alarming, data analysis and reporting.

QualiPoc Remote Control probe

The smart and simple product concept is based on standard Android-based smartphones and equipped with extra safety features (backup battery, automatic reset, ventilation) to maximize system stability. Power is only needed for remote control and configuration.

GUI of NQWeb System Inspector backend application

The web-based, customizable interface displays the entire network status in realtime, enables remote control and configuration, and displays alarms. The NetQual suite offers additional applications for data management and analysis.

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