Comtest Wireless

FAQ

How can Comtest Wireless help me?

If you are a rail operator, telecommunications company, telecommunications or signalling vendor or a consultant, involved in the provision of rail telecoms, modern signalling and interlocking or their ongoing operations, you’ll want to talk to Comtest Wireless.

Comtest Wireless provides tools and services to help you effectively and efficiently deploy, test, measure, analyse and monitor rail telecoms, signalling and interlocking networks and ensure ongoing service assurance.

When should I use the Comtest solutions?

Comtest Wireless solutions are used for many reasons, including:

  • As an essential tool during the testing, optimisation and validation phases of network deployment
  • To gain network acceptance and certification
  • To determine compliance with ETCS, UIC, ERA and other industry safety, regulation and certification standards
  • To test, measure & monitor rail telecoms, signalling & interlocking performance against operational KPI requirements and for service assurance
  • To analyse, source & pinpoint issues within operational rail telecoms, signalling and interlocking systems
  • To detect and identify the source of interference on rail telecoms networks
  • To assist in the identification and prioritisation of critical issues and activities as part of predictive maintenance processes
  • To monitor networks and identify sources of incorrect operation or cyber-attack

What are the Comtest solutions available?

Comtest Wireless offers a comprehensive range of solutions to test, measure & monitor rail telecoms networks and signalling & interlocking systems.

The range of products are designed to meet different client requirements. In summary, these comprise:

  • NetProbe Drive Test – The market leading & critical test & measurement tool for rail telecoms networks
  • NetProbe Wayside – A proven system to monitor the performance of trackside systems for rail telecoms, ETCS signalling, interlocking systems
  • NetProbe Combined – A solution that combines and synchronises Wayside and Drive Test data and information, making it faster and easier to source & pinpoint issues and maintain and optimise rail systems performance
  • NetProbe On-Board Unit (OBU) – A solution for automated on-board data collection, making it easy to test, measure and monitor the performance of ETCS enabled train fleets & multiple vendors’ trackside systems
  • NetProbe Analytics – The data analytics solution underpinning the whole NetProbe product suite, which enables engineers to both produce reports and go into specific details for troubleshooting
  • NetProbe Enterprise – The web-based version of NetProbe Analytics, designed to provide managers with a dashboard showing a high level view of the KPIs and key metrics
  • NetProbe Owl – A security monitoring solution used to identify suspicious messages and sessions in monitored traffic, send alerts and generating reports in real-time.

Why are Drive Tests used for more than acceptance testing?

Drive Tests are essential for measuring and assessing a mobile radio network’s coverage, capacity and Quality of Service (QoS). This both at the installation and acceptance stages AND on operational lines, for ongoing voice & data quality service assurance.

What rail industry standards does Comtest Wireless support?

Comtest Wireless supports all relevant rail industry standards and requirements, including the UIC & ERA testing methodologies.

For example, Drive Tests are used to against the key specifications such as: Eirene SRS and FRS together with O-2875 and Morane. These are normally met by the telecom vendors but it is key for a railway operator to know exactly which specification/standard the network is compliant to.

In case of ETCS level 2 or 3, testing to meet other additional specifications is usually required. Typically, before even setting up a service, the telecom network must be capable of meeting the robust specifications; Subset 093 and UIC specification for Quality of Service O-2475. Both need to be passed and usually require formal Notified Body (NoBo) approval.

In addition to railway standards, Comtest Wireless hardware is certified to EN50155 and Comtest Wireless quality management systems are certified as meeting the ISO 9001: 2015 standards.

If I already have a wayside solution in place, why do I need to do Drive Tests too?

Wayside probes are used to monitor key operational signalling & interlocking information. However, Drive Tests are required to demonstrate compliance with industry standards for network acceptance and ongoing service assurance, as well as providing additional unique & critical insight into the behaviour of rail telecom networks.

For example, The EIRENE specifications require mandatory quality of service (QoS) tests to accept/certify a GSM-R network for ETCS L2 operations. These include:

  • RF Coverage
  • Call setup, connection loss rate
  • Handover break time
  • Functional number registration/de registration
  • Test of ASCII functions

Additional Drive Tests are needed for the mandatory functionalities for network compliance to the ETCS L2 standard, these include:

  • QoS Data testing in circuit switch mode
  • QoS Data testing in packet switch mode

The best solution is to conduct Drive Tests for rail telecoms & monitor wayside systems in one place, as there are issues that only Drive Tests can detect, such as interference. In addition, the use of a combined solution makes it easier to synchronise and detect issues, which improves performance optimisation overall.

Can you tell me more about NetProbe Drive Test?

NetProbe Drive Test is Comtest Wireless’s market leading technology solution that’s essential for rail telecoms troubleshooting and network quality assessment.

It can collect & analyse rail telecoms performance data from a wide variety of rail telecoms networks, such as: GSM-R, TETRA, 3G, 4G, 5G, MCPTT & more.

Test runs can be conducted as single events or as part of a regular schedule.

The NetProbe Drive Test range includes remote, automated and manually operated systems, which can be installed on racks in test trains and coaches, or used as portable backpacks or trolleys.

Comtest Wireless can supply NetProbe Drive Test solutions for test & operational vehicles, attended, remote and unattended solutions, as well as standalone and portable kits. All are supplied with appropriate training, support and maintenance packages tailored to meet different client operational processes and environments

Can you tell me more about NetProbe Analytics?

Developed by Comtest Wireless, NetProbe Analytics is a highly powerful software platform that enables different data streams to be collected and viewed at the same time.

It is a dedicated rail telecoms, radio frequency, signalling & digital interlocking analysis platform that underpins the NetProbe product suite.
NetProbe Analytics can simplify and automate time consuming and complex tasks. These include interference and blocking analysis, as well as efficiently pinpointing issues with GSM-R rail telecoms (call drop, call failure, handover failure), signalling (ETCS drop, ME Error) and interlocking.

It can be used to produce a wide variety of custom KPI and management reports as graphical displays, charts, graphs and maps and reports, which clearly identify current statuses, failed KPIs, trends and other areas needing more investigation.

Can Comtest Wireless provide support with cyber security?

Yes. Comtest Wireless currently provides a GSM-R cyber sniffer for monitored wayside systems. It is designed to enable rail network engineers to detect security and disruption issues on the GSM-R and ETCS networks in real-time.

Why is it important that Comtest Wireless is ‘vendor independent’?

Comtest Wireless works with rail operators, telecommunications companies, telecommunications and signalling vendors and other suppliers around the world.

It has no exclusive arrangements or relationships with them, so it can collect data from multiple equipment types, sources and vendors, both onboard and wayside. This makes its solutions very powerful as all data can be collected, synchronised & displayed using a single analytics platform, irrespective of its source.

What technology can Comtest Wireless support?

The Comtest Wireless solutions are designed for a wide range of current technology solutions, such as: GSM, GSM-R, GPRS, WCDMA, TETRA, LTE/ 4G & 5G.

The solutions are also compatible with radio access network and core network protocols, used in the following technologies: GSM, GSM-R, GPRS, WCDMA, LTE, ETCS.

Although GSM-R is the primary rail telecoms network currently deployed in the UK, Europe and around the world, it is due to become obsolete, when its 2G technology reaches end of life and is no longer supported. The current timeframe for this is 2035, which is why Comtest is already working closely with the rail industry, telecom vendors and other key parties involved in the development of FRMCS (Future Railway Mobile Communication System).

For example, Comtest Wireless is working with rail operators looking to install and operate rail telecoms networks using 4G & Mission Critical Communications (MCPTT/MCPTX). It also can provide 5G testing capabilities.

Which countries can Comtest Wireless support?

Comtest Wireless can support customers around the world, from Australia to Slovenia. Its solutions are particularly suited to Europe & the UK, the Middle East, Australasia & the Far East – where rail networks depend on telecommunications systems, such as GSM-R (or other technologies supported by Comtest).

How is technical support provided?

Comtest Wireless has over 20 years of domain expertise in railway telecoms and signalling. It is therefore well placed to help customers test & measure their rail telecoms & signalling network performance.

First year support

Every new order is covered by a year’s warranty & support for all the hardware & software supplied. It includes bug fixes and equipment malfunctions, as well as remote support, access to the customer Support Portal to raise and manage tickets, and the video tutorial website.

Extended support

Due to the complex nature of the systems provided, Comtest Wireless expect all customers to have an extended Support contract in place at the end of the first year. These contracts should be renewed in good time and before they come to an end.

Support renewal is dependent on an inspection of the equipment (at customer cost) and can result in additional & upgrade and costs. This may include a change of components, where they become uneconomic to support or are no longer supported by the manufacturer.

What ongoing training is available?

Comtest Wireless provides free access to the company’s webinars, which are advertised on social media and sent by email via the company’s e-news.

Customers with valid support contracts receive basic training and also can also access step-by-step how to guides and videos.

If teams and/or individuals require more in-depth or hands-on assistance such as reports, test runs etc, in addition to the basic training originally supplied, further training & workshops can be provided as a separate service.

I’m interested in speaking to someone, who should I contact?

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Comtest Wireless is happy to discuss enquiries and provide online product demos

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