With each new wireless technology rollout, there is a critical need to refresh and update network test equipment so that the new technologies can be successfully and accurately measured.
The major restraint of the network test market is that it is very labor-intensive. Operators and network equipment manufacturers (NEMs) are under pressure to reduce the manpower that they deploy in this area, which reduces the amount of test equipment purchased.
Network operators need to know where the network coverage is supposed to go, as customer churn is expensive, and poor coverage and poor service are the top drivers of churn.
SPs require effective network testing products and solutions that protect their existing investment.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the global network test equipment segment generated revenue of $435.6 million in 2016, which was a decline of 2.9% from 2015. Due to the temporary disruption in SP spending, particularly in North America, this segment experienced declined revenue in 2016.
Chart 1.1 Global Network Testing Equipment Market, 2016 and 2023
Minimization of Drive Tests (MDT) is expected to be a key competitor for network testing, as it provides the option of collecting data without even sending a person to the location of the network. MDT is truly wireless in this sense and will also reduce the cost of drive testing for network optimization.
Improving in-building network coverage is on the top of operators’ agenda at the moment as it is their responsibility to provide positive user experience indoors as well as outdoors. Customer experience is key for all benchmarking, field trials, optimization, acceptance, troubleshooting, and monitoring. Identification of any issue is key, which will lead to providing the right tool to obtain the correct results.
Research indicates that more end users are expected to move away from drive test for optimization. Several companies are outsourcing these tests to low cost vendors in order to provide them with basic results.
There is a huge difference in analysis and results of data obtained between indoor and outdoor applications. With new applications, the data traffic from indoor is increasing that is challenging to perform optimization and geo-location. Walk test is being used aggressively to check data in different floors of buildings, as it is cost effective although does not provide high level accuracy. While walk test is critical for indoor applications, geo-location is gaining momentum for outdoor.
The level of expertise a vendor possesses, the various products, regional presence, pricing and after sales support are some of the key parameters that an end user caters to while choosing a test vendor.
Consolidation seemed to be the theme of the network testing market lately: Rohde & Schwarz acquired SwissQual, Keysight Technologies acquired Anite Telecom and, the most recent, Infovista acquired with Ascom, the leader in the network testing market. This demonstrates the important role network testing solutions play and with the imminent 5G deployments in the near future, the role of network testing solution would become even more crucial with the multitude of IoT applications.