The handset technologists | Phone and Network testing [How to] | Three

It’s my responsibility to make sure that the devices we launch work as well as they can on our network. If it doesn’t, then we go back to the people that made it and we find out WHY it doesn’t and we try and get it fixed. We’re looking to test what customers would actually see. We go to The Lab, we plug the handset on the end of a test set. We need to make sure that: Is the ID correct? Are the capabilities set the way we need them to be set, for what works best on our Network? When we get towards the edge of the Network How well do the handsets keep hold of the signal? We have train routes and we know that on these routes there are… There’s LTE coverage, there’s 3G coverage, Can you make a voice call? Can you receive a voice call? We can see quite a big difference between handsets in this. And that’s what we’re looking for! We’re looking for the ones that give you the best coverage. When we go out and do the testing we have these wonderful things called ‘Phantom Hands’. And we have a row of these. I don’t know what the people on the train think of this when our guys get on and sit there on the table with four disembodied hands holding phones. but, those hands are supposed to replicate a human hand in as many aspects as possible, so, how good they are at letting radio signals through, or, rather, how much of the signal they block, That is also the same as an average human hand. We also have a few sites that we know are on the edge for coverage. and we sit there for a day, basically, making lots of calls and seeing how many of those calls go on OUR network and how many of those calls go on our roaming partners’ network . The Network is divided-up into various geographical zones and those zones go back to different Data Centres. And, if you move between one zone and another your call route is actually moving from say, Hemel Hempstead, where one of the Data Centres is, to Birmingham. Sometimes, you won’t even notice it, and other handsets, it will lose the call. And what we’re looking for is if it loses the call, we need to fix that! Before we even consider selling that phone. ‘Voice on 4G’, which will be coming soon, we’ve been testing it for some time already. Where we’ve been doing this is in the Genesis facility. It’s basically a little Network, and what we do there is introduce new features. We have control over everything in there. We can play around to our hearts content. We can change everything. And it doesn’t affect customers in any way ‘cos it’s not the customers network, it’s our private one for doing engineering stuff on. How do we set up this feature? Does it do what we want to do? Is it working well enough to let the customers have it yet? Voice over LTE we’ve been testing for, kind of, six months already. And then it will be ready for customers. I don’t really worry about what these things look like or how big the screen is. What I worry about is: How well do they actually perform? We’ll inevitably find that there is something that we don’t like as engineers. But, engineers are kind of picky! It’s not unusual that we will not launch a device if it doesn’t work well enough. It’s all about… Will the customers like it?!

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