The Stakes are higher than Ever: Device Testing in an Open Handset World
The majority of North American wireless operators demand that the handsets and other devices they support and sell are properly tested to meet their requirements. In fact, before a device is launched by a major carrier, it typically undergoes thousands of individual tests to ensure proper performance, reliability and security well before an operator will offer them to their customers. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) often oversee or even perform these tests to ensure their customers get the best possible experience. After all, their company’s brand is on the line, and the last thing they want is bad publicity and a barrage of calls into customer care from angry subscribers. They also perform tests to ensure their network is protected. A single faulty device can create a cascade of problems that can potentially take down an entire network.
The Open Market Handset
In the past, the ability for operators to maintain a high level of testing and control over devices has been fairly straightforward, since North American subscribers were limited to using only the devices the MNOs provided. These are ‘locked’ devices, in that they only work for the providing carrier, since the MNO technically partially owns the device through the end of the customer contract. But this business model changed a few years ago and many of the traditional two-year customer contracts have been phased out.
Now, North American subscribers can own unlocked devices that can be used with the provider of their choice. Since consumers have the option to purchase any handset of their choosing, and can connect it to any mobile network, this device is called an Open Market Handset, (OMH). While this has been the norm for much of the rest of the world, it is fairly new for the US market. Introducing an open, bring your own device (BYOD) business model has created some challenges for both the North American MNOs as well as the device manufacturers (OEMs) themselves.
Test Once, Launch Everywhere
With this new model, network operators simply can’t test and certify every device on the market themselves, so many of the testing requirements are falling to the OEMs. Each carrier issues a list of conformance and performance tests to make sure that the fundamental capabilities work according to their specs — can you place a call and send a text? Do apps behave as expected? How quickly does data flow under different scenarios for each megahertz band?
If OEMs want to ensure that their devices are successful in the market and will be supported by the leading operators, testing and certification is necessary to prove they will deliver not only a ‘best in class’ user experience, but that they will also support the latest technologies, and most importantly of all, not threaten an operator’s network investments. Customers want assurances as well. Will their new device support all the cool new features and apps? Has it been certified to deliver a best in class experience?
The benefits of the open handset approach is that it spares MNOs from having to invest as heavily in their own device testing labs, lessens the need for inventory and retail overhead, and also gives consumers many more device options. With this approach, each device only needs to be tested once and can then be used across any network, providing a ‘test once, launch everywhere’ approach.
AIRCOM Labs Device Testing Services
At AIRCOM Labs, our independent device testing labs perform thousands of field and market tests on hundreds of devices, including chipsets, modems, tablets and handsets. Our testing services are far more cost effective than going directly through the MNO, yet just as reliable. In fact, we already perform device testing and certification for many of the world’s leading mobile operators and OEMs.
We perform thousands of individual tests in all key categories, including:
- Speech Quality
- Call Processing
- Data Throughput Validation
- Web Browsing & File Transfer Performance
- Video Calling Performance
- Battery Performance, and hundreds more
When OEMs test and certify their devices independently through AIRCOM Labs, they can be assured that the process will make their handset more attractive to carriers and to customers, while also providing invaluable R&D data. Handset testing provides early insight into potential risks and red flags, ensures performance reliability, and also delivers valuable benchmarking information to benefit future releases.
Our highly respected test labs and field testing services are used by the world’s leading device manufactures who have chosen us as a trusted partner. In the past 5 years, AIRCOM Labs has tested over 900 different device models, including phones, tablets, data cards, modules and chipsets, from more than 45 manufacturers. With AIRCOM Labs device testing and certification process, OEMs can reduce customer return rates and build a more dependable reputation for quality products.