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Case Study: European Mobile Network operator appoints Vecta Labs, despite geographical challenge

Headquartered out of Australia and the USA, Vecta Labs may not seem the obvious choice for a European network operator, however, when it comes to PIM testing, there are standards that must be met.

Below, we have outlined how one operator based in Europe decided to work with Vecta Labs to ensure its antenna testing needs were met.

A European mobile network operator identified a series of generic issues with antenna products. These issues included:

  • Network performance not always achieving design standards.
  • Quality issues were perceived with several delivered antenna models/types.
  • Costs associated with fault finding and resolving antenna problems post- deployment were high and growing.
  • Determining antenna deficiencies as the root cause of network performance issues in the post-deployment period has always been difficult, as has attributing logistical and financial responsibility within the stakeholder group comprising the operator, antenna vendor and contractor.
  • Providing a qualitative assessment of competitive antenna solutions to review relative performance with a view to improving procurement decisions.
Vecta Labs anechoic chamber - antenna testing for PIM
To conduct pre-commission testing, Vecta Labs uses our patented field deployable anechoic test chamber. This ensures that for the first time, component, antenna and even end-to-end system level testing is available at remote sites.

To overcome these issues, the European operator invited several antenna vendors to collaborate in an independent benchmark testing process based on each vendor covering test fees for their own products.

To select the testing house, it would work with the operator developed a list of criteria to help determine which operator it would use:

  • Technical capability relevant to testing of BSA (Base Station Antenna) specifications, and preferably extending to the design and manufacturing characteristics of BSA
  • Near and far field capabilities
  • Technical certification qualifications and independence
  • Ease of doing business after initial scoping phone call
  • Flexibility
  • Language skills
  • Geography
  • Cost
Antenna operator works on antenna in Vecta Labs' lab
Vecta Labs satisfied the operator it had a clear understanding of the International ISO/IEC Standard 17025 ‘General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories’

Initially, the European operator reached out only to European test houses (with Geography a key factor), however, PIM testing was a core focus in the benchmark process, and it soon became apparent that none of the approached test houses could demonstrate that they would be able to provide an acceptable test suite.

This resulted in the operator widening its search for antenna test houses to those outside of Europe including Vecta Labs, in an endeavour to identify an organisation that was better able to provide all the desired elements of the intended process.

Following the global search for an antenna test house, the European operator selected Vecta Labs as the testing house they would work with.

Some of the key reasons provided included:

  1. Vecta Labs offered a pragmatic approach to the business challenges as presented above, offering flexibility, willingness to project-manage the entire activity end to end and could prove with their background in antenna development a key knowledge in PIM.
  2. Vecta Labs offered a far-field test range with a history of use with cellular antennas and could also demonstrate a lab-based test facility capable of dealing with the full breadth of required measurements.
  3. Vecta Labs satisfied the operator it had a clear understanding of the International ISO/IEC Standard 17025 ‘General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories’ and could demonstrate appropriate expertise in mobile antenna design, manufacturing and measurement including antenna patterns and PIM performance.

This case study is broken down in more detail via a white paper developed with the operator.

You can download the white paper here.