AT&T recently claimed “fastest national network” status, based on crowdsourced, device-based Ookla Speedtest data — and this week, Ookla responded with a blog entry that provided more insights on the data and a subtle “slow your roll” to the carrier.
According to AT&T’s press release, “results from Speedtest show our speeds improved by more than 15% over the first three months of 2019, while the previous leaders’ speeds plateaued. Factors include our expansion of 5G Evolution from 25 markets at the end of 2017 to nationwide availability just over a year later. In fact, speeds in 5G Evolution areas are up to twice as fast as AT&T’s standard LTE service on average. This 5G Evolution foundation, as evidenced by these results, enables us to deliver faster speeds now and allows us to upgrade to 5G more quickly.
“We are also making substantial investments for the benefit of FirstNet— the nationwide public safety communications platform,” the carrier said, adding that it has been “laser-focused on expanding the reach of FirstNet and our investments are paying off for FirstNet subscribers” with Band 14 spectrum deployed in more than 500 markets. Non-FirstNet customer devices can use that spectrum as well, although they get bumped off it in the event that FirstNet users need the capacity.
AT&T provided this visual:
In a blog entry from Ookla’s Isla McKetta that was meant to provide “additional clarity” on the analysis on which AT&T’s claim is based, the numbers did indeed bear out that AT&T had the fastest mean download speed during the first quarter of 2019 — but not one quite as dramatic as that chart illustrates. AT&T clocked a mean download speed of 34.65 Mbps, squeaking by T-Mobile US’ 34.11 Mbps.
“As we tracked data on mobile download speeds in the U.S. throughout the quarter, it became very clear to us that AT&T was likely to become the frontrunner,” McKetta wrote, noting that the increase in AT&T’s network speeds has been a trend that started in the fourth quarter of 2018 — as pictured in the Ookla chart below.
So where did that nifty spike in AT&T’s chart come from? Their comparison is on a weekly basis, not the longer-term basis on which Ookla makes its comparisons and validates claims. And one of the contributing factors to that boost on the weekly level, according to Ookla, was an increase in tests on iOS devices that got a software update which put AT&T’s 5GE icon in front of consumers — so many of them promptly ran a speed test to see what kind of performance they were getting. As McKetta put it:
“In the final week of Q1, we also observed an increase in faster tests taken on AT&T’s network,” McKetta wrote. “Upon investigation, we discovered that this correlated with the release of iOS 12.2 and the roll out of AT&T’s 5G E icon. We also found that the increase in tests was coming from device models that would have started to display the 5G E icon, such as the newer generations of iPhone (XR, XS Max, XS, X, 8, 8 Plus), indicating that consumers were seeing the new icon and taking a test to see what speeds they were getting.”
Those 5GE tests helped solidify AT&T’s position, but it was already in the lead.
“Even excluding data from the last week of the month, AT&T still had the fastest LTE network in the nation during Q1,” McKetta went on, noting that the carrier also had strong speeds on Android devices, coming in first on the most-popular Samsung Galaxy S9 with a mean download speed of 44.9 Mbps.
So yes, AT&T does get to make that fastest-network-based-on-Ookla-data claim — even if that chart basically zooms in on a relatively small amount of the overall data to put it in the best light. But the crowdsourced testing company did get in a bit of a tut-tut.
“A conclusion is only as good as the data behind it,” McKetta wrote. “This is why Ookla does not validate national claims based on less than a quarter’s worth of data. User experiences on their respective networks can be influenced by a wide variety of factors that ebb and flow over short periods of time, particularly when evaluated at the national scale.” Data volume and the device base of a carrier also matters — AT&T, McKetta noted, has a significantly larger base of iOS devices than its competitors, probably because it was the first carrier to offer the iPhone and so it has retained a larger customer base of Apple users. Ookla reported that 70% of Speedtests run on AT&T’s network during the first quarter came from iOS devices.
–Anritsu has a new CFO. As of April 1, veteran SVP and company general manager Donn Mulder — who has served in that role since 2005 — assumed the role of CFO from Toru Wakinaga.
He will oversee Anritsu’s corporate business operations in the U.S., and its research and development, marketing and field operations, and the manufacturing operations of the company’s Network and Infrastructure business unit, which is based in Morgan Hill, California.
Mulder joined Anritsu as a product marketing manager in 1992.
“It has been a tremendous experience at Anritsu, as I have had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most talented professionals in test and measurement. The commitment to working with customers and meeting their ever-changing needs by developing superior test solutions has been integral to the success of Anritsu and a philosophy that begins with upper management. I look forward to continuing this precedent of success and innovation to maintain Anritsu’s position as a premier provider of test solutions for the communications industry,” said Mulder in a statement.
–Keysight Technologies announced that it will be supporting 5G New Radio device conformance testing with Japan’s NTT DoCoMo and 5G field testing with Telia Finland, and added Time Domain Scan (TDS) and Real Time Scan capabilities to its Keysight N9048B PXE Electromagnetic Interference receiver for faster electromagnetic compliance certification.
The company’s 5G RF Conformance toolset was also used to submit 5G NR Standalone test cases to the Global Certification Forum for SA devices, Keysight said, and it claimed to be the first submit a 5G NR SA Testing and Test Control Notation version 3 protocol conformance test case to 3GPP’s RAN5 working group.
In related news, Keysight Chief Marketing Officer Marie Hattar was named one of the 50 most powerful women in technology by the National Diversity Council.
-Real-time testing and monitoring company Netrounds recently supported a multi-access edge computing project with Vodafone Group and tech company Continental, which integrated MEC-based artificial intelligence for automotive uses. The application for connected cars streams pre-processed sensor data from an in-vehicle camera over the mobile network to MEC cloud nodes for real-time analytics and “instant decision-making processes,” Netrounds said, and the app on the edge cloud “applies AI algorithms to determine if an action is required.”
Guenter Klas, senior manager for Vodafone Group R&D, said that “real-time analytics regarding network behavior grows in importance when our cellular networks support safety-critical applications.”
“This use case demands a stable and dependable network communication that is hyper-sensitive to latency and other key metrics in order to meet their main goal of safer road conditions,” said Mats Nordlund, CEO and co-founder of Netrounds, adding that Netrounds was “able to automate both testing and active real-time monitoring needed to measure critical KPIs.
“We are excited to see what the future of this project brings and the opportunities we can reach with mobile communication as we move into the 5G era,” Nordlund said. Read more about the project here.
–EXFO’s earnings were up year-over-year, with the company reporting a profit of $5.2 million compared to a net loss of $4.7 million during the same period last year. Sales were up more than 14% year-over-year to more than $73 million, and bookings grew 16% year-over-year to $76.1 million; that bookings figure includes more than $10 million in contributions from the acquisition of Astellia. Net expenses during the quarter were partially offset by the $1.7 million sale of a building as part of the company’s restructuring plan, EXFO noted.
CEO Philippe Morin praised the company’s “outstanding second quarter results with strong revenue and bookings growth, profitability and cash flow generation” and said those were “all encouraging signs for our T&M and [Service Assurance, Systems and Services] product families and the leverage in our operating model.”
–Linear Integrated Systems is unveiling a new testing capability that it says enables “individual screening of small-signal discrete components to levels below a billionth of a volt of noise in quantities up to tens of thousands of parts.” The capability was created to meet the requirements of a U.S. defense project, and the company is now offering it to other customers. Linear’s components are used in various applications, including high-end test and measurement systems.
“Small-signal discrete components can help create the lowest noise signal chains possible and that’s what our customers have been demanding,” said Timothy McCune, president of Linear Systems. “This sub-nanovolt testing capability enables us to provide production-line quantities of parts guaranteed to meet specific noise levels. No other company has this capability.”
-Wi-Fi performance monitoring company 7Signal was awarded a patent for using mobile devices to measure wireless network performance. The company said that its patent outlines “a system comprised of a central analysis and control server, a wireless device, and a wireless network testing software application which is transmitted to the wireless device. The wireless device performs testing of wireless networks and sends test data to the central server. The received data is transformed and an indicia of wireless network service quality is obtained.”
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