The TM500 network tester family is, according to Cobham Wireless, helping mobile operators to accelerate the deployment of high capacity networks. Already supporting key LTE-A features such as carrier aggregation of two and three component carriers, TDD/FDD carrier aggregation, and eICIC, the TM500 is now able to support Coordinated Multipoint transmission/reception (CoMP), a major feature of 3GPP LTE-A Release 11.

Where carriers are deploying small cells, they often do not deliver the expected user experience and this is slowing HetNet deployment - HetNets provide increased network coverage, capacity and quality through the use of a variety of infrastructure and technology, supporting seamless voice and data communications. One of the primary reasons for users seeing a degraded quality of service with HetNets is poor cell-edge performance due to the lack of traffic coordination and interference management between small cells and macrocells.

The TM500 is being used to address cell-edge interference issues with eICIC (Enhanced Inter-cell Interference Coordination), empowering mobile network operators to achieve better overall network capacity. With the addition of CoMP it will be able to co-ordinate transmission and reception between different transmitting and receiving cells. It achieves this through the use of load balancing, coordinated scheduling, and the management of signal power and interference. In the downlink, each mobile terminal sees improved data throughput, especially near the cell edges, due to reduced interference and an increase in received power. Similarly, for the uplink, received signal quality and cell edge coverage is improved by simultaneous coordinated reception from different receiving points on the network side.

"CoMP offers enormous benefits to network operators, but it is very challenging both to configure and to validate," said Nicola Logli, product manager at Cobham Wireless. "It requires tight synchronisation among multiple transmitting and receiving points. The TM500 network tester can emulate and validate realistic CoMP usage scenarios in both uplink and downlink and enables operators and vendors to perform lab and field trials incorporating realistic performance tests for this powerful new LTE-A feature."