Testing 1 - 2 - 3...

By Eric Griffith

May 05, 2004

The world of verifiable reliability testing of Wi-Fi products added a new player this week as VeriWave introduced a multipoint system that it says goes beyond what a sniffer can do.

VeriWave of Portland, Ore. has been in business for a couple of years, but is just getting around to putting out its first product, the WaveTest System. That patience might pay off for major vendors of Wi-Fi equipment looking to make sure their products are up to snuff.

"Every new market requires some kind of test solution to see the level of performance, that a product is doing what it says its doing," says Rick Denker, the vice president of marketing and a co-founder of VeriWave. He harkens back to the early days of Ethernet, which eventually lead to a multi-million dollar testing business. "It's a very high-potential, profitable market."

The WaveTest system consists of units called Test Points which sell for $74,000 for the first three, and $29,000 for each additional unit. The company calls the results from the Test Points the "most repeatable" on the market when compared to existing tools like spectrum analyzers and protocol sniffers. What other products lack, says Denker, is the ability to measure the timing parameters, plus they would require multiple tools to solve a problem.

"They need to keep up with new features on each product, and then firmware and driver updates, and that means they need to recalibrate their measurement systems frequently," says Denker.

WaveTest is a multipoint system. Each Test Point box connects to the network via Ethernet as well as wireless, making them control points for measuring the performance of wireless vs. wired. Units would be placed around an environment and then time synchronized so they appear as a single system, but with the timing in and out of each system precisely controlled. The hardware can be used to transmit any type of 802.11 frame, including interference.

"You can send frames with errors," say Denker. "Deliberately violate the protocol if you want. We filter anything that can impact results as little as possible."

Vendors can even test antenna performance using the Test Point box since each has a removable antenna.

VeriWave is not the first company to release major testing products. Azimuth Systems of Acton, Mass., for example, has had a product out for a little less than a year. Denker says they're very different however, as the Azimuth is "more of an RF control tool, a convenient replacement for a Faraday cage."

Such testing solutions will be popular with not only vendors but labs. Azimuth's product has been adopted by independent test The Tolly Group. However, VeriWave already has fans at a major Wi-Fi test facility: the University of New Hampshire's InterOperability Laboratory, which was recently named an official pre-certification testing lab by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Gerard Goubert of the UNH-IOL says the WaveTest system "provides timing accuracy and resolution far better than any tool we've seen to date" and adds that the the cases for the cases for each Test Point are sealed metal with no holes, preventing any electromagnetic interference to effect measurement of units being tested.



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