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Networking Verizon Wireless Networking

Verizon's 'Can You Hear Me Now' Fleet Testing 4G 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the wardriving-for-the-man dept.
itwbennett writes "On the sidelines of the CTIA trade show in San Diego last week, Verizon showed off one of its test vehicles, a Chevy Tahoe equipped with a variety of phones and mobile data devices. The devices make voice and data calls over the air and are wired up to testing equipment in the back of the truck. The carrier has about 100 such vehicles around the U.S., and testers drive about 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) per year while conducting ongoing network tests, said Tom Badger, director of network system performance. One thing Verizon doesn't use: the well-known phrase from its TV commercials."
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Verizon's 'Can You Hear Me Now' Fleet Testing 4G

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  • by Jake73 (306340) on Monday October 17, 2011 @12:07PM (#37740256) Homepage

    I think what the O.P. meant was that the handsets (millions of them) could be providing this feedback at all times with just small ancillary data on the uplink. Things like SNR, error rates, etc, could be reported in real-time at all times or selectively enabled by the towers when segments are being measured. This would composite all sorts of users, all sorts of chipsets, photes, locations, etc. With location services enabled, the phones can tell the towers where they are when these measurements come through.

    Throw it all up on a fancy visualization and you can get a lot of information over different times of day, weather conditions, etc. No need for a bunch of trucks. Sure, the trucks can provide more information with better measurement equipment. But in many cases, lots of cheap devices can produce better data and fewer expensive devices as long as the proper statistical processing is applied.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 17, 2011 @12:45PM (#37740844)

    Conspiracy theory: It's much better publicity for Verizon to pretend to actively monitor their network signals with fancy trucks than letting their customers know that they're snooping the customer base without their consent.

    Monitoring handsets with customer consent could be a good idea!

    Verizon can sell a standardized GPS-enabled phone to their customers (like CDMA GarminPhone?) and send out random coordinates on a regular basis for customers to cash in "signal points". The first person to run the special "CanYouHearMeNow" app on their phone at each location within a desired time frame will get the signal point. The app verifies the location from the built-in GPS, tests signal strength, and uploads results (or queues them for sending later if there's no data/messaging service. After a certain number of points are turned in by one user, the customer receives a $10 credit toward their monthly bill and a special award (T-shirt? phone case? gift card?) when they get to their $100 credit. It's much cheaper than a fleet of employees and trucks. Cell phone customers don't require health benefits, vacation, oil changes or tire rotations. Bonus points can be given for locations that go uncollected for a long time (eg: mountain, desert, ocean). Every time Verizon adds a new tower or somehow tweaks a tower in some way, they can start a new campaign that releases signal points back into the wild. To prevent idiots from putting themselves on highways without a car, create a mode for the app that leaves it running while driving so that they can run over the signal point pac-man-style to pick it up. Each customer is an individual that doesn't need to worry about interference from having too many phones in one truck. Because the phones are all the same, the signal testing is standardized. It's possible to award points to the first 3-5 different people who show up at a sensor point so that average or median results can be determined. It's like GeoCaching for Wireless.

    If someone is frustrated about signal problems, they can run the app at any time to automatically report a problem (no points). After a while, when the unsolicited points in an area add up, it should show up on a map to help Verizon prioritize future coverage.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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