Vectalabs: Driving the Future of Network Quality and Performance

Michael Symes, Director, VectalabsMichael Symes, Director
With buzzwords like 5G and SDN now commonplace, who would have thought that modern networks would still be plagued by significant performance issues leading to diminishing coverage and capacity, with wasted investment? However, the fact remains that networks continue to operate at levels below the intended design specifications. Compelled by testing and measurement being vital to identifying and resolving network problems, a group of seasoned veterans established Vectalabs in 2014 to tackle the challenge head-on. Vecta is an independent testing services company with superior expertise in evaluating RF path devices, antennas, and active antenna systems. “We collect and analyze large volumes of test data to qualify the design and manufacturing performance of transmission equipment,” adds Michael Symes, director of Vecta.

The founding members of Vecta hold expertise in designing, manufacturing, and testing of RF equipment. They recognized that network validation through performance measurement would become an area of critical importance; so, each member left their start-up ventures to invest their collective attention toward Vecta. After successfully completing projects for major telecom carriers across four continents, it became evident that they had unique value propositions to offer, connected with the prevention of defective material entering service.

Often, networks operate with degraded performance because there are inadequate current tools to reveal the extent of degraded performance. With its portable test facilities built around shielded and anechoic chambers, Vecta performs rapid and accurate measurement of critical parameters for RF devices and antennas. These tests are aimed at demonstrating compliance with the specifications of a carrier or manufacturer. Also, Vecta has developed its own ‘Figures of Merit’ to represent comparative effectiveness of transmission equipment. This helps with comparing similar products from two or more vendors and the simplified data collected by Vecta enables carriers make more informed decisions in their product sourcing activities.

We collect large volumes of test data and analyze it to qualify the design and manufacturing standards of transmission equipment prior to deploying it into operational networks

To illustrate the company’s capabilities, Symes narrates how they successfully completed investigation and remediation works involving a significant number of cell sites for a particular renowned carrier. Once key aspects of network performance were assessed, the carrier realised improvements in RAN metrics including uplink interference, data throughput, traffic, dropped-call rates and call-setup failure rates.

For another carrier, Vecta was engaged to analyze and identify likely causes impacting site performance, in a greenfield roll-out. Every radio unit, antenna, jumper cable, and power cabinet was tested at the system level. With repair and removal of deficiencies, the cell site performance achieved design objectives without typical post-commissioning fault finding, repairs and equipment replacements. “That work was done on the ground in a controlled environment with all tools and processes at our finger-tips” Symes remarked.

Vecta’s business model revolves around innovative independent and trusted testing services. These should not add to a client’s total cost of ownership, as Symes explains, “We are not asking a client to increase their spend; instead, we are presenting an option to redirect existing investment toward different areas, that allow greater network value to be delivered.”

The ’big data’ at the core of Vecta’s capability requires extensive (and expensive)development of tools that leverage artificial intelligence and deep learning techniques, so as to provide a better understanding of cellular radio characteristics for 4G, 5G and beyond. For this, Vecta is forging relationships with carriers, radio access vendors, universities and independent technology developers who share the same vision for clever innovation aimed at delivering the level of system operation expected in this modern network era. “We are pleased to work alongside these industry champions” Symes says.