Verizon Wireless taps Tektronix to monitor LTE network performance

Tektronix tools could help carrier throttle data hogs

Verizon Wireless said today that it will use Tektronix Communications' Iris software to support network monitoring of the Verizon LTE network, which is now in the early stages of being rolled out.

Iris includes several components that could be used to spit out data about an individual user's data usage patterns. That kind of information would be critical to Verizon's recent warning that it will throttle back data speeds on the heaviest 5% of data users to keep the network running efficiently for other customers.

The announcement provoked some outrage from customers . However, analysts said that throttling will be necessary to keep networks running efficiently as more smartphones and tablets access wireless networks and place greater demands on them with interactive gaming, video and mobile payments.

The data throttling threat came just before Verizon began selling the iPhone 4 on its CDMA-EV-DO network.

The Iris monitoring tools will be focused on LTE, Verizon said, which the current Verizon iPhone does not use. However, an LTE iPhone is expected at some point, and Verizon said today it will support the Motorola Xoom with 4G LTE this spring .

Analysts said Verizon hopes to thwart the kind of network problems AT&T faced with iPhone, which it sold exclusively in the U.S. for more than three years.

A Verizon spokesman would not comment on whether Iris will be used specifically to monitor heavy data users, although the company said in a statement that IrisView will provide data feeds to existing cutomer experience management systems (CMS). CMS is used for overall network performance, which would include speeds along links in a specific part of a network.

Another tool, Iris Traffic Analyzer, will provide network troubleshooting, including the ability to analyze IP traffic by an individual link, server or application.

Tektronix could not be reached to comment on its selection. In the Verizon statement, Mark Driedger, vice president and general manager of network management for Tektronix, was quoted saying that Tektronix is "proud to work with [Verizon] to help ensure their mobile broadband solutions meet the demands of the market."

Neither party described the cost of the Iris tools, although network management tools for large networks can run into the many millions of dollars, depending on the size of the network.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about wireless networking in Computerworld's Wireless Networking Topic Center.

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