Nokia's rfView could put an end to drive testing

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) aims to get engineers out of the driver's seat by putting spectrum analyzers into base stations, eliminating the need for costly, labor-intensive and time-consuming drive testing to identify and solve radio-frequency interference.

The vendor's rfView project has already undergone prototyping and validation through field tests with South Korean operators SK Telecom and KT in the cities of Kwangju and Daejeon. In a company newsletter, Nokia said rfView "allows for automated radio frequency monitoring and interference detection, remotely and non-intrusively, without performance degradation."

This approach can eliminate the need for site visits, where a portable spectrum analyzer is connected to the antenna to perform a manual scan of the radio band for components causing interference, as well as drive tests, whereby a vehicle equipped with an antenna and a spectrum analyzer monitors RF spectrum around the cell site.

The rfView function is already supported by Nokia Flexi radio modules that shipped in recent years.

"Once loaded into the base station, the radio module captures a snapshot of the wideband radio frequency signal before it is digitally converted. The captured waveform is remotely retrieved using the existing base station connections. Then, the waveforms are analyzed by external servers running signal processing software to generate plots, detect interference and calculate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)," Nokia said. The vendor added that rfView generates results in tabular and graphical reports.

"There is no better place to detect interference than in the base station itself," said Pablo Tacconi, Nokia's rfView project lead. The rfVIEW technology "sees what the base station sees, utilizing the same antenna, same filters, and same electronics," he added.

Tacconi noted Nokia is now working on "rfVIEW automation," which is intended to further automate collection and analysis of RF data and integrate it into network management and self-optimizing network (SON) solutions.

The rfView "innovation showcase" project was conceived as part of Nokia's FutureWorks initiative. FutureWorks represents concepts, innovations and technologies that demonstrate possibilities (not commitments) for future portfolio and roadmaps, the company said.

For more:
- see this Nokia newsletter article

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