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Mobile device testing requirements exploding
|25 июня 2009|
Device testing, already an increasing burden in 3G, will become even bigger problem in 4G as the functionality and features of those mobile broadband devices multiply, Accenture is predicting.
Furthermore as embedded consumer electronics and data centric devices like netbooks emerge, Accenture said, the number of devices an operator is expected to support will grow far beyond handsets, and each of those new devices will require its own testing program.
Accenture’s Communications and High Tech department Senior Executive Miguel Myhrer said that the growing complexity of device testing has led a growing number of operators to start outsourcing their texting and certifications operations to firms like Accenture, which can take advantage of economies of scale and cheaper costs overseas.
“Operators have to test for a number of operating systems, a number of applications, and a number of user interfaces,” Myhrer said. “The number of test cases they have to implement is growing exponentially.”
For instance, a recent certification project Accenture performed on a feature phone for a wireless operator required 1700 separate tests, far more than what a standard voice only device required five years ago. When moving to a device with a dedicated operating system and richer application suite, a smartphone, the number of test cases jump 40% to about 2400. Moreover, many of those test-cases can’t be applied across devices; rather new parameters and test categories have to be introduced for each innovation in the market, Myhrer said. The iPhone, which runs all of its applications on top of an OS, requires a completely different set of tests than the new Palm Pre, which runs Web apps through its browser.
“Operators are starting to outsource that aspect of their business,” Myhrer said. “The question they are asking is ‘is it our core competency to do testing, or do we want to choose the devices we want but leave the testing for someone else?’”
In Europe, operators have been more ready to embrace the latter. Accenture is already working with at least three operators to handle all of their device testing. In the US, operators are still exerting more control over their testing and certification, but Accenture is working with one operator to streamline their testing process by developing test categories the operator uses for its own certification program.
Myhrer, however, believes that the big switch to outsourced testing will happen with the advent of 4G. The embedded device model and trends toward open access networks in long-term evolution (LTE) and WiMAX will flood the market with new devices, ranging from computers to media players. While Verizon Wireless’ commercial launch of LTE is still well over a year away, the operator has already opened up its certification requirements to device makers in an effort to seed its future network with a new categories of devices.
Instead of supporting a few dozen handsets, an operator will be expected to support hundreds, if not thousands, of device on its network. No single operator will be able to test for all of them on its own, Myhrer said.