The road to Wireless – which wireless standard suits you best?

17/08/2015

WiFi, Bluetooth or Zigbee? Tom McKinney of HMS Industrial Networks offers a review of the available short range wireless standards for industrial applications.

Tom McKinney, Business Development Manager at HMS Industrial Networks

Tom McKinney, Business Development Manager at HMS Industrial Networks

Recently the buzz around Industrial IoT has grown to a deafening roar. The market for IIoT devices is projected to grow exponentially over the next several years as businesses start to capture more data regarding their operations. That data will be used to monitor and optimize processes, and as companies learn to use the data they capture to improve processes, the result will be increased productivity. Beyond internal productivity, this data may lead to improved company-to-company operations benefiting both the producer and the customer.

Multiple technology advancements have converged to make large-scale Industrial IIoT deployments possible. These advancements include reduced cost of data storage, lower power RF solutions and higher levels of network accessibility. Another important enabler for Industrial IoT is wireless standardization.

Wireless is nothing new
Wireless networks have been used for over 30 years in the industrial market. In the past, these networks were typically sub 1GHz proprietary systems. The solutions used simple modulation techniques like amplitude-shift keying (ASK) or frequency-shift keying (FSK). Radios that supported these types of modulation could be created easily with a handful of discrete parts. The drawback of these solutions were a complete lack of security and limited bandwidth.

Over the last twenty years, several standards have been developed to define robust radio solutions. The most recent standards are secure enough for broad deployment. In addition, several new free-to-use frequency bands where introduced in the 80s including the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Deploying a standardized radio solution today is a cost-effective secure way to both monitor and control devices in the field or factory. Given the number of wireless standards to choose from, the question becomes which standard is the right standard to deploy.

Summary
1) WiFi
a. Pros
i. Highest Bandwidth up to 600Mbits/s with 802.11n
ii. Fixed 25 MHz or larger Channels
iii. Support for 2.4 and 5GHz channels
iv. Extensive security features
b. Cons
i. Range is lower with higher data rates and 5GHz
ii. Not a good match for battery powered sensors
2) Bluetooth/BLE
a. Pros
i. Very low power
ii. Massive deployed
iii. Very good performance in congested or noisy wireless environments
iv. Ease of use, no frequency planning or site map requirements
b. Cons
i. Max data rate of 2Mbits/s
ii. No automated roaming standard
3) Zigbee
a. Pros
i. Very low power
ii. Fixed channels between WiFi channels in 2.4 GHz band
iii. Support for sub 1GHz bands
b. Cons
i. Complicated mesh network
ii. Max bandwidth of 250Kbits/s

So let´s take a look at the three most common wireless standards deployed in the 2.4GHz band: Bluetooth, WiFi and Zigbee.

WiFi
WiFi or IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n is the widest deployed consumer and enterprise wireless TCP/IP network solution. WiFi is short for Wireless Fidelity and is a standard used to identify Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) devices. The committee managing this standard is aims to create the best possible wired TCP/IP network replacement. The committee prioritizes security and speed over all other tradeoffs. As a result, 802.11n has the highest bandwidth of any short range wireless standard. The drawback is power consumption and processing power required to effectively manage the 802.11 stack. These drawbacks created a gap in the market and several standards have emerged to address the very low power wireless market.

Bluetooth
Bluetooth and Zigbee were both introduced to address markets not serviced well by WiFi. The Bluetooth standard addressed the needs for a low power Personal Area Network (PAN). A PAN is defined as the network that surrounds a person or a smart device. The requirements include fast association, simple human-to-machine interfaces and low power. In a PAN, multiple transmitters can be placed very close together – Bluetooth includes timing to ensure device transmitters don´t overlap. Bluetooth was also designed under the assumption it would have to co-exist with WiFi and includes a frequency hopping algorithm to ensure Bluetooth messages can get through even when multiple WiFi channels are active. Finally, because Bluetooth uses a very low power transmitter, it is less sensitive to multi-path compared to WiFi. As a result, Bluetooth can be deployed successfully without extensive RF site reviews and planning. The system is very resistant to noise and interference.

Zigbee
Zigbee is based on IEEE 802.15.4 which is a general-purpose, low-power wireless radio standard that allows different protocols to be built on top of the standard radio. Zigbee set out to support low power sensor networks capable of covering a large area. Zigbee uses meshing networking and a very aggressive power profile to meet the needs of this niche market. Zigbee´s protocol is designed for quick turn-on and turn-off, thereby saving power. Several other protocols have been built on top of 802.15.4 including ISA100, WirelessHART and 6LoWPAN.

Bluetooth Low Energy
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) was introduced as an update to the Bluetooth standard. Leveraging some of the techniques used in 802.15.4, BLE was able to achieve even lower power points when compared to Zigbee and support many of the features originally created by the Zigbee standards effort.

Selecting the standard for you
So which standard is the right standard to deploy? That depends on the system requirements. In summary, WiFi has the highest bandwidth and most comprehensive stack but Bluetooth, BLE and Zigbee offer features ideal for particular applications. For example, if monitoring battery-powered sensors over a very large area, Zigbee would be the ideal standard. Bluetooth/BLE works well as a cable replacement point-to-point technology or for monitoring sensors over a smaller area. BLE has a huge installed base of tablets and phones making it an excellent choice for human-to-machine interfaces.

Although technology standards may vary, there is no doubt that more and more applications will be wirelessly connected in the near future. With the advent of Industrial IoT, billions of devices will need to hook up to the Internet, and many of these connections will undoubtedly be wireless.


It’s not a Cable, It’s an Antenna!

30/07/2015
Keith Blodorn of ProSoft Technology, tells us there are several conditions in industrial communication systems where using a radiating cable as an antenna offers major benefits.

Why would someone want a cable that acts like an antenna? After all, much research and development has gone into improving cable shields precisely to prevent this! As it turns out, there are several conditions in industrial communication systems where using a radiating cable as an antenna offers major benefits. The most common cases are for communicating to equipment moving along a track, replacing slip rings in rotating equipment, and providing a clear RF signal where obstructions or plant-floor layout prevent a clear “Line-of-Sight” to transmit from a traditional antenna.

What is a Radiating Cable?
Kabel_radiating_thick.jpg_ico500A radiating cable is a long, flexible antenna with slots to radiate RF signals that can be installed around corners, along monorail systems and through tunnels to propagate wireless data signals in situations that are tough or impossible for traditional antennas. Since the radiating cable antenna can be mounted within inches of where the signal needs to be received, it isolates the wireless signal from going to other machines that may be on the plant floor. And, the cable comes in multiple lengths to meet the needs of most applications.

In a typical coaxial cable, a metallic shield wrapped around the cable isolates the signals transmitted on the cable from the electromagnetic waves in the air around the cable. This helps to maintain a strong signal on the cable, and prevents that signal from creating interference with radio frequency (RF) equipment nearby. Without the shield, the cable would act like an antenna, transmitting the signal it carries into the air, and receiving radio waves from other RF devices. For those who remember analog cable TV, we experienced this phenomenon when we saw “ghost” images on certain channels. Instead of just receiving the video signal sent from the cable company along the coaxial cable, we were also receiving that channel’s over-the-air broadcast of the same video signal as picked up by the coaxial cable working like an antenna. This was an unintentional use of radiating cable, and produced undesirable results.

The same principle that gave us blurry television pictures back then is used to make a cable that intentionally radiates signals. This is called a radiating cable, or leaky feeder cable. The difference between radiating cable and poorly shielded TV cables is that the shield on a radiating cable is designed with exacting slots that allow for the transmission of signals at a specific frequency. In this way, these cables are tuned to the RF equipment to which they are connected. The cable’s shield still works to block unwanted RF, but will allow signals of the correct frequency to emit from, and be received by the cable inside. That makes a radiating cable act just like an antenna.

Placing RF Signals Precisely in Crowded Plants
Another benefit of using radiating cables comes from the ability to place RF power very precisely. The use of wireless communication equipment in factories is growing rapidly, which means that factory floors are becoming crowded with radio waves on all the common frequencies. For machine builders who need to use wireless, this creates a real problem. With a radiating cable solution, new machines can co-exist within the crowded plant RF space without adding to the cacophony. This is because radiating cable emits RF in one direction, and only needs as much power as it takes to link with another antenna at a relatively fixed distance. While the plant’s general wi-fi network is screaming to everyone who will listen, the equipment on the new machine can operate at a whisper.

This benefit is especially important in rotating machinery which traditionally used slip rings to conduct communication signals from I/O on the moving part of the machine to a controller on the fixed part. Slip rings are expensive to install, require regular maintenance, and even still suffer from poor communication speeds due to noise on the rings and in the pick-ups that ride on the rings. Traditional wireless solutions can work, but often the motion of the machine will obstruct the wireless link, requiring higher gain antennas that result in greater RF “noise pollution.” Radiating cable is used in these applications to provide a clear, consistent path to the rotating antenna, without interfering with other nearby wireless systems.

Flexibility
Radiating cable also benefits from its inherent flexibility. Since it is a cable, it can follow almost any path to provide wireless signal in places where antennas just can reach. One of the early applications for radiating cable was to enable two-way radio connectivity for emergency workers inside highway and rail tunnels. In the industrial setting, there are many hard-to-reach places, whether those are actual tunnels or “RF tunnels” created by obstructions. An example of that would be a warehouse, where the metal racks and merchandise on those racks can cause obstruction and reflection issues for a traditional antenna. Radiating cable can be installed along the aisle ways to provide a strong signal just where it’s needed.

Summary
For certain industrial communication challenges, radiating cable offers unique advantages. Radiating cable provides consistent data rates over a long distance, can be shaped to provide signal in difficult-to-reach environments, and reduces plant RF congestion by constraining its RF signal to the exact area where it’s needed. These benefits are especially valuable in applications where machines move along a pre-defined path, where the terrain of a facility is particularly difficult to reach with broad coverage, and where signals on rotating equipment are otherwise transmitted through slip rings. Care must be taken in selecting and installing the components of a radiating cable solution. However, with a bit of preparation and advice from an experienced industrial RF vendor, a radiating cable system can provide trouble-free communications for your toughest applications.

• ProSoft Technology® designs industrial communication solutions that connect automation products seamlessly. ProSoft Technology is a highly diversified, customer intimate, global organization with a focus on quality and ease-of-use. Their products include in-chassis communication modules for PLC/PAC controllers, standalone protocol gateways, and a wide range of robust, field-proven wireless solutions. These are found in applications spanning the industrial marketplace.


Upgrade from the horse and buggy!

02/06/2015
From this...

From this…

It takes years of practice, driver training and numerous rules & regulations to safely drive a car on a highway. We need similar experience and rules to safely travel the Internet highway.

Heavy traffic is expected ahead!
What needs to be done to make sure that Internet cruisers don’t crash and burn? There are many signposts on the internet highway that need to be learned and mastered. It is easy to get lost, easy to get into a serious accident where your personal data is stolen and compromised.

..to this - without accident?

..to this – without accident?

A new whitepaper from Green Peak talks all about international web regulations and government policies, internet privacy and data security, data ownership, and safely avoiding the wrong way drivers and other hazards.

When compared to our highway system – the learned knowledge of how we should travel on the internet highway, relatively, we are still in the horse and buggy days.

Download the whitepaper from the Green Peak site (pdf)


Does Industry know its I from its T?

03/05/2015
Industry IT security shortfalls persist!

A recent survey conducted by Electroustic revealed industry’s unsustainable approach to information security. The survey showed a pressing lack of information about the most common security risks in an age where industrial internet and remote data access are steadily being implemented on the factory floor. An impressive 34 per cent of respondents said their companies don’t have an information security policy.

The survey identified hacking as the biggest security concern – with 31 per cent of respondents worried about it – followed by human error (17 per cent) and cloud computing (11 per cent).

While it’s true that most security breaches are caused by outsider attacks, these often come in the form of malicious software and can easily be averted with the correct staff training and appropriate infrastructure.

tofino“The huge range of available IT security products for industry is a double-edged sword for many companies,” explains Paul Carr, managing director and owner of Electroustic. “Although there are a lot of options to choose from, inexperienced companies can easily end up spending a fortune on IT security systems that might not be appropriate for their specific needs.

“In terms of network security, establishing multi-layered defences using industrial firewalls, like Tofino’s Xenon (pictured), is crucial. A reliable industrial firewall should be easy to implement and manage, while also being versatile and rugged. A good IT security system should ensure a company meets and exceeds NERC CIP (North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection) requirements and ISA/IEC-62443 Standards.”

User education and awareness are two additional points in the Electroustic survey where respondents didn’t fair particularly well, which suggests industrial companies need to do more to tackle the problem.

User security policies describing best practice when using a company’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) systems should be formally acknowledged in employment terms and conditions. Additionally, IT induction programmes should be complemented with regular training on the cyber risks faced as employees and individuals.

The latest industry trends, including industrial internet, remote data access and Industry 4.0 are drastically changing the industry landscape and the skills employees are expected to bring to the table. Companies need to do more to prevent and address IT security breaches and the best way to do so is by training staff, implementing reliable industrial security solutions and keeping up to date with the latest industry developments.

• For companies just starting on the road to industry security, the latest version of the British government’s 10 Steps to Cyber Security guide is available on the GCHQ website.

Securing automation systems – a step by step approach

25/10/2014

Prof. Dr. Frithjof Klasen, the writer of this presentation, is a member of the Managing Board of the PROFIBUS Nutzerorganisation e.V. (PNO), Director of the Institute for Automation & Industrial IT (AIT) at FH Köln, and Director of AIT Solutions GmbH in Gummersbach.

Prof. Dr. Frithjof Klasen

Prof. Dr. Frithjof Klasen

The big problem when it comes to security for automation systems: there are no simple solutions.

A system is only safe if the threats are known. Typical security threats in production include infection by malware, unauthorized use (both intentional and unintentional), manipulation of data, espionage and related know-how loss, and denial of service. The consequences can be loss of production, reduced product quality, and endangerment of humans and machines.

In order to evaluate threats, the properties and possible weak points of devices and systems must be known. After all, a property that is useful from the automation perspective – for example, the ability for a programming device to access a controller without authentication – is seen as a possible weak point from the security perspective. It is necessary to distinguish these weak points in order to assess risks, develop security solutions, and take appropriate measures:

  • Weak points that arise due to incorrect implementation (for example, faulty device behavior).
  • Conceptually planned and accepted properties. These include all features that can also be exploited for attack purposes. An example here would be an integrated web server in an automation device.
  • Weak points that are caused by organizational measures or lack thereof.

Field devices not only contain communication technologies for transmission of process signals (real-time communication) but also standard IT technologies, such as FTP services. In addition, field devices also operate as network infrastructure components (switches) and therefore have services and protocols that are needed for network management and diagnostic purposes. The fact of the matter is that most communication protocols at the field level have no integrated security mechanisms. Devices and data are not authenticated and, consequently, within the scope of a possible attack, systems at the field level can be expanded at will and communications can be imported. Even the transferring of PLC programs often takes place without use of security measures such as user authentication and integrity protection.

There is no panacea

Ideally, users would like to have a tool, certification, or system that promises them long-term security. The difficulty, however, is that such solutions don’t provide lasting security. In order to develop secure systems, users must not only implement technical measures but also conceptual and organizational measures. And everyone will know from their own experience that processes can be implemented in technologies much faster than in the minds of people.

However, conceptual and organizational weak points can be more easily overcome when they are described in guideline documents. For example, PI developed a Security Guideline for PROFINET in 2006 and published a completely revised version of this guideline at the end of 2013. This guideline specifies ideas and concepts on how security solutions can be implemented and which security solutions should be implemented. The subject of risk analysis is covered, for example. This analysis estimates the probability of a damage event and its possible consequences, based on protection goals, weak points, and possible threats. Only on the basis of an analysis of this type can appropriate security measures be derived that are also economically feasible. A series of proven best practices are also given, such as the cell protection concept.

Making devices more secure
Another measure concerns the device security. After all, robust devices are the basis for stable processes and systems. They are a basic prerequisite for security in automation. Weak points due to incorrect implementation can be eliminated only through appropriate quality assurance measures and certifications. In large networks, system availability matters the most. To achieve this, devices must respond reliably to various network load scenarios. In systems with many devices, an unintended elevated broadcast load can occur on the network during commissioning, for example, when the master attempts repeatedly to access all devices even though only a few devices are connected. The available devices must be able to handle this abnormal load. It is difficult for operators to predict such scenarios since the probability of a high data volume is dependent on the system. The reason is that the data traffic is determined by cyclic and acyclic data exchange as well as the event-driven data volume.

With the help of the Security Level 1 Tester developed by PI for certification of PROFINET devices and free-of-charge to member companies, such network load scenarios up to and including denial of service can be simulated already in advance. The field devices are tested under stress conditions to simulate an unpredictable load and, thus, to reduce device failures. Uniform test specifications have been defined for this, which can be systematically applied by the test tool. In addition, various network load-related scenarios have been developed that take into account various frame types and sizes as well as the repetition period and number of frames per unit of time, among other things. The network load-related test is already being required by various end users such as the automotive industry. This test is already integrated in the device certification testing according to the latest PROFINET 2.3 specification and must therefore be passed in order for a device to be certified. Users that purchase such a certified device can rely on having a correspondingly robust device.

By no means are all problems solved
Only those who know their devices can protect them. Still, not all manufacturers provide comprehensive information about the utilized protocols and services and communication properties of their devices. Another problem: in spite of security, users must still be able to handle and operate systems. No maintenance technician wants to be looking for a certification key for a failed device at 2 AM in order to bring a system back online. Future-oriented concepts therefore master the tightrope walk between usability and security.

Securing_Automation_Systems• PI has been dealing with the issue of security for years. For example, one PI Working Group is concentrating continuously on security concepts. A product of this is the PROFINET Security Guideline, which can also be downloaded free of charge by non-members. Moreover, further development of the Security Level 1 Tester is being advanced here. In so doing, it is important to all participants that the described and recommended procedures are sustainable and practicable and ultimately also accepted by users. Only in this way can protection concepts be truly successful.


Accelerating development of smart, power-efficient IoT applications!

28/07/2014
Delivering intelligent connectivity starting at the network edge

B&B Electronics has introduced its Wzzard™ Intelligent Sensing Platform.    Wzzard is an easy to use, complete wireless sensor connectivity platform for the rapid deployment of scalable, intelligent, reliable Internet of Things (IoT) networking in remote and demanding environments.   Wzzard was designed to help integrators, VARs and service providers efficiently develop and deploy secure, smart, self-powered, and scalable IoT applications.

BBWzzardUnlike a traditional SCADA application where sensors and edge devices are simply passive conduits for raw data, edge decision making delivers a more effective network.  Using iterative control limits and gateway data aggregation to support applications closer to the network edge, the Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform brings this intelligence to the network starting at the sensor, creating a more responsive, reliable and efficient network.

There are several key components and technologies that comprise B&B Electronics’ Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform, as demonstrated here: B&B Smart Sensing Wzzard Platform

First, Wzzard Intelligent Edge Nodes will connect, via conduit fitting cable gland or M12 connector, to any industry-standard sensor. General-purpose analog inputs, digital input/output and thermocouple interfaces are included. B&B has already integrated internal temperature and accelerometer sensor options, and can integrate other application specific sensors upon request.

The Intelligent Edge Nodes are easily configurable, using Android or IoS smartphones or tablets and the Wzzard app over Bluetooth LE 4.0. They can be configured to communicate only data outside specified thresholds, reducing the cost on cellular networks, as well as to associate other useful information (geo-location, device name, and up-time) with the collected sensor data for upstream analytics applications.   Control time synchronization is used to maximize battery life, exceeding 5 years for many applications.   Nodes are IP67 rated for outdoor use and include both magnetized and screw mount options.

Next is the communications component. B&B chose SmartMesh IP® wireless sensing technology from Linear Technologies Dust Networks.  SmartMesh IP is based upon the wireless IEEE 802.15.4e standard and creates full-mesh networks, sometimes referred to as “mesh-to-the-edge” networks.  SmartMesh IP networks use a triple-play of wireless mesh technologies—time diversity, frequency diversity, and physical diversity—to assure reliability, resiliency, scalability, power source flexibility, and ease-of-use.  At the core the technology is an intelligent mesh network with advanced algorithms and power saving technologies that enable powerful features not available from other WSN providers including:

• Ultra low power consumption

• Deterministic power management and optimization

• Auto-forming mesh technology for a self-healing and self-sustaining network

• Dynamic bandwidth support, load balancing and optimization

• Network management and configuration

• Zero collision low power packet exchange

• Scalability to large, dense, deep networks

wzzard_groupWzzard’s Intelligent Edge Nodes can join the mesh network at any time without gateway interaction.  Nodes attach automatically, and the SmartMesh IP technology dynamically self-configures to re-form the mesh network. To ensure data always reaches the gateway, nodes will determine their optimal RF paths to other nodes and back to the gateway. The SmartMesh IP protocol implemented within the edge nodes includes advanced network management functions and security features such as encryption and authentication. For more information: B&B Smart-Sensing What is Smartmesh

Wzzard also uses the lightweight, publish/subscribe messaging transport MQTT protocol for sensor communications.   MQTT is an extremely simple messaging protocol created for M2M and IoT applications over wireless networks. Its efficient distribution of information to single or multiple receivers, low power usage and minimized data packets make it ideal for mobile or remote locations. Unlike older SCADA protocols such as Modbus, MQTT places few restrictions on the volume or type of data that can be communicated. This facilitates a meta-data approach where multiple IoT applications can act upon the information simultaneously without having to know its origin.

Finally, B&B’s programmable, industrial-grade Spectre router serves as Wzzard’s Intelligent Gateway. Spectre can connect equipment and other devices to the Internet or Intranet over either wired Ethernet or wireless cellular connections. Spectre is built for plug-and-play simplicity with extensive remote management, deployment and customization options.  It is a robust, flexible gateway designed for easy deployment in demanding environments and the cellular version creates secure connections in locations where cable connections are impractical.

Processed information from the sensor nodes is published through the Spectre Gateway up to the customer’s IoT application using MQTT transport protocol.

SeeControl is one of the first IoT platform providers to leverage the Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform and MQTT protocols to develop applications. (More information at: B&B/SeeControl Partnership)

“Today, most business analytics can only describe what has happened and why,” said Parthesh Shastri, SeeControl’s vice president of customer success and strategy.  “The industry can move past descriptive to predictive and even prescriptive analytics using IoT technologies such as B&B’s Wzzard that applies edge decision making and processes information collected from sensors before transmitting relevant, as opposed to raw data, up to SeeControl’s SaaS remote management platform. Cloud-based big data analytics is then better able to derive meaning from the data, and prescribe specific courses of action, to drive more intelligent applications.”

Jerry O’Gorman, CEO of B&B Electronics explained, “The Wzzard platform’s technologies, protocols and hardware work together to reduce the complexity, expertise and time it takes for integrators to develop scalable IoT solutions.   We developed Wzzard to facilitate the coming world of connected intelligence, where smart machines and systems will collaborate, inform and make decisions on the intelligence gained from each other with little or no human supervision. Humans will program these smart networks, but then they have the ability to run efficiently and autonomously, sometimes for years, until there’s data reported that requires human intervention.”

Possible Applications:

  • Flood and water level monitoring
  • Smart car parks; vehicle counting, air quality
  • Smart irrigation systems monitoring soil moisture, environmental conditions, leaks
  • Mechanical condition monitoring/preventative maintenance
  • Energy measurements and audits on a per system or machine basis
  • Data center environmental monitoring
  • Tank and lift stations
  • Condition monitoring and optimization in industrial environments
  • Traffic monitoring of over-height vehicles for tunnels and bridges

Smarter phones drive mobile data monitoring!

02/04/2014
Expansive increase of smartphone use creates a need for mobile data monitoring solutions!

Over the next five to ten years, data traffic is expected to increase exponentially due to the growing adoption of smartphones globally. This amplified volume of data will place considerable strain on the networks of communication service providers (SPs)  and their information management systems, thereby stoking demand for mobile data monitoring systems.

smtphnsMobile data monitoring solutions are critical tools to improve overall mobile data performance and customer experience, as these can analyze mobile data and optimize the performance of their networks.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Global Mobile Data Monitoring Market, finds that the market earned revenue of $312.4 million in 2013 and estimates this to more than triple, reaching $1.103 billion in 2020, at a compound annual growth rate of 19.8 percent.

Due to the rocketing adoption of smart devices, mobile apps and video are expected to be the most consumed types of data. This growth is unlikely to dip, as social networking traffic and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication continues to rise in popularity. Over the next five years, M2M traffic is expected to outstrip even that of social networking traffic, as connected devices and sensors are anticipated to exceed 50 billion units.

Currently, SPs are ill equipped to deal with this demand for data.
“Communications SPs must invest in mobile data monitoring solutions to ensure positive end-user experience and lower customer churn,” stated Frost & Sullivan Communications Test & Measurement Program Manager Olga Yashkova-Shapiro. “Already, many SPs have rolled out Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks and are exploring other data traffic offload strategies to keep pace with demand.”

Adoption of over-the-top applications stimulates market growth
In addition to the adoption of smart phones, over-the-top (OTT) applications are contributing to the mounting demand for mobile data monitoring solutions. The swelling data traffic is forcing telecom companies to invest in more secure and complex testing capabilities to match strides with network expansions as well as upgrades in 3G and LTE.

Consumers are demanding more bandwidth-hungry applications, which require operators to deploy faster transmission links. When mobile users log on to 3G networks, they expect the applications to work seamlessly. Moreover, the information received from these different networks must be correlated.

Although the adoption of LTE has helped achieve the required data rates, there are significant concerns about the quality of voice and data. Companies are hoping to mitigate these issues with the adoption of voice over LTE (VoLTE), an IP-based multimedia system standardized by the third-generation partnership project (3GPP) to maximize international interoperability. VoLTE allows SPs to reduce the cost of delivery, enhance voice service offerings, and combat the service degradation in OTT services such as Skype and Viber.

“Traditional voice monitoring or service assurance solutions were not designed to analyze voice delivered over a data network,” notes Yashkova-Shapiro. “Therefore, the demand for next-generation mobile data monitoring solutions to support VoLTE is expected to increase and more operators are investing in new mobile devices required to support the VoLTE standards.”

Overall, SPs’ keenness to provide the highest levels of quality of service and quality of experience is expected to sustain the demand for comprehensive management solutions and proactive monitoring.


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