Testing the “operational capability” of any communications network is beneficial in predicting when network congestion and performance problems may occur and hence impact customers. Advance notice of this means remedial steps can be taken ahead of time. However, the dilemma is how to cost-effectively do this, based on the unit cost of the user terminals, the large number needed, the coordination required between these terminals and the manpower requirements.

In response to this problem, e2E has developed a new state-of-the-art distributed network simulation capability that can be plugged into real equipment and operated on a real-time basis. Referred to as NEATTMoperations, the initial application has focused on providing a Satellite Access Network Load Simulator capability that can be connected into the operational ground station equipment and emulate potentially thousands of satellite terminals in order to systematically stress test the node under test.

NEATTMoperations is architecturally designed as a framework into which capabilities and further features can be easily added, as the need arises, and dependent on network operator requirements. Initially, the emphasis has been on measuring the handling and performance capability of the satellite access node under extensive terminal registration storms. By systematically increasing the number of user terminal registrations, the Operator/System Integrator has been able to determine how the real equipment will behave in order that suitable coping strategies can then be administered. NEATTMoperations can register thousands of terminals and within identified time constraints. This variant can further send (under operator controlled conditions) registration messages via a terminal server and use a corresponding channel unit server to enact the accompanying registration process with the satellite access node. In summary, the NEATTMoperations light-weight configuration comes with all or some of the following primary capabilities:

  • Ability to reproduce registration storm conditions in order to test the receiving station handling abilities and to allow introduction of new hardware;
  • Verification of Non-Access Stratum (NAS) layer registration sequencing, performance and load in order to check-out handling at the satellite access node;
  • Ability to verify exactly when and under what conditions the satellite access node will send registration rejections;
  • Determination of how frequently the satellite access node can respond to registration messages;
  • Assist in isolating when there is an unsuccessful registration due to (a) contention slot issue(s);
  • Assist in isolation of satellite access node limitations;
  • Effective reporting capability that clearly shows captured results (e.g. total number of successful/ unsuccessful  registrations, etc);
  • Specifically tuned features including encryption, synchronisation, authentication and mobility management that takes into account the specific network design and operation.

The satellite access node has been based on the Radio Access Node (RAN) and operation used within the mobile cellular market. Hence, the product should appeal to non-satellite communication providers who have a need to better control their in-field operational performance.

Further product details are available by downloading the NEATTMoperations Brochure