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Spirent develops tester for GPRS networks

Posted: 27 Jun 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:spirent communications? nortel networks? tester? gprs? general packet radio service?

Spirent Communications Inc. has joined with Nortel Networks to develop the first performance tester specific to GPRS, the 2.5G service providing packet data service over current GSM networks.

While other companies have developed GPRS testers for prototype systems, Spirent claims to have the first prototype-to-production system capable of simulating networks of thousands to millions of users accessing Gateway GPRS Support Nodes, or GGSNs.

The systems emulate both control plane and data plane functions, and offer a test suite for 2.5G and 3G digital cellular networks. John Curtis, manager of mobility strategy in Spirent's performance analysis division, said a high level of graphical-based abstraction was necessary in emulation tools. The requirement has grown given the explosion in number of GPRS customers in many GSM networks.

The Spirent tools can simulate more than 1M users for each GGSN in the network. While current GPRS data networks are based largely on IP over ATM and Ethernet, a tester must be able to cope with an expanding protocol set on both subscriber and network sides. At the client, protocols such as Mobile IP, Point-to-Point Protocol, and Multi-Protocol Label Switching are being added to GPRS networks. In the backbone, networks are expanding to handle RFC2547bis updates to MPLS, as well as Open Shortest Path First and the Border Gateway Protocol.

"It's as rich as the most advanced routed wireline networks, and the test equipment has to be able to handle packets generated at wire speed," Curtis said. Nortel has worked with Spirent to determine protocols supported, and how the test equipment handles tunnel creation from GGSN node within a GPRS system.

- Loring Wirbel

EE Times

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