Friday, July 31, 2015

Mobile Field Test Maps @ FirstNet Consultation Jul. 28-30 in Sacramento

This week, we had the wonderful opportunity to present results of our mobile testing to FirstNet at the California State Consultation, arranged by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) in Sacramento. The meeting brought together roughly 200 stakeholders from the first responder community at the tribal, federal, state, and local levels to learn about the First Responder Network (FirstNet) Authority's plans to roll out a nation-wide interoperable public safety mobile network using a dedicated 20 MHz in LTE Band 14.

A large part of the discussion centered around coverage of tribal and rural areas of the state, and to assist participants in their understanding of coverage today, CalOES used a series of poster-sized maps created by the CPUC and CSU Chico's Geographic Information Center. Pictured above is an image of the federally recognized tribal reservations and Rancherias with Verizon and AT&T estimated OTT MOS >= 4 coverage. Other poster topics included fire threat areas, earthquake zones, state parks, 9-1-1 call locations, population density, Yosemite Rim Fire, and FirstNet proposed initial coverage objective.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Water Saving Technology in California's Ag Land: A Coverage Comparison

Which Mobile Provider Has Better Coverage to Power Water Saving Technology in California's Ag Land?

In a July 5 article on water technology in the Los Angeles Times, addressed some of the challenges Silicon Valley is having in developing water saving technology for farms. Part of it is the difficulty in demonstrating value to farmers, part of it is a culture divide. "The next generation of precision agriculture — a world of wireless sensors, cloud-based data crunching, aerial imaging and app-based decision-making — may germinate in Silicon Valley, but it will have to take root here [California's Central Valley], where growers soak up about 80% of the water diverted for human use."

A more immediate problem might be mobile coverage. We did a recent analysis with the help of Cal State University Chico's Geographic Information Center of mobile coverage in California's agricultural areas. As we've published before in this blog, we relied on the mean minus 1 standard deviation values of test locations at 1,990 points across the state from the Fall 2014 field test. We then filtered for agricultural land using Classes 81 and 82 in the National Land Cover Database. Surprisingly, Verizon appears to have better coverage than AT&T in California's agricultural lands. One major caveat is that our field tests are performed only on roads, so it will take additional testing on agricultural lands, out in the fields, to get a more accurate picture of mobile coverage there.

Verizon Wireless Served Map (mean minus 1 standard deviation)

Green: Greater than or equal to combined 6 megabits per second down and 1.5 up
Yellow: Below 6 megabits per second down and/or 1.5 megabits per second up
Red: Below 768 kilobits per second down and/or 200 kilobits per second up


AT&T Mobility Served Map (mean minus 1 standard deviation)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fi Comes to CalSPEED

We were happy to see the first Fi tests run on CalSPEED last week. Fi is one of  Google's latest projects, and it combines Sprint, T-Mobile, and WiFi networks to provide seamless service. Click here for coverage of the April 2015 announcement by Google.

Here's a summary of last week's tests:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Backhaul Sleuthing in Rural California

As part of our investigation into why rural mobile performance is so much worse than urban, we had our testers run trace route tests to see where each provider sent traffic on its backhaul network. We just received the data output, and it's over 36 megabytes in comma delimited format. More than 16,000 tests, some with more than 20 "hops." It will take some time to decipher everything and draw conclusions, but one thing seems apparent immediately: AT&T has fewer hops than the other providers to get to the same destination. This may be one factor in AT&T having higher overall VoIP capability than the other providers (fewer hops, lower latency). Here is a table of the average number of hops to the West server for each provider:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Alpha testing of CalSPEED for iPhone begins now

We have just begun alpha testing the iPhone version of CalSPEED. The screen shot above, taken from an iPhone, shows that there's still work to do. For example, users will not need to enter a location ID (as our field testers have to do when we do mobile testing). The second image below is a draft version of the user interface that is being developed.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Spring 2015 Field Testing Complete!!

Our intrepid team of mobile field testers from Cal State Chico and Cal State Northridge have finished another round of mobile field testing, covering around 1,990 locations across the state. This is the first time we tested Android tablets in the field, and it significantly reduced testing time not having to swap out data cards on a netbook. Some of that time reduction, though, was taken up by a new traceroute test that the testers ran so we can begin to get a better look at the backhaul networks.

Results are still coming in and will be cleaned, compiled and analyzed over the coming months.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this a success!

- photo courtesy of Steven Crews

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Broadband Testing At Mojave Wind Farm

This Vine reminds me of how California is leading the country in adopting renewable energy. California's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) began in 2002 and is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. The RPS program requires investor-owned utilities (IOUs), electric service providers, and community choice aggregators to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33% of total procurement by 2020. Read more about RPS here.

Actual RPS Procurement Percentages in 2013
PG&E- 23.8 %
SCE – 21.6%
SDG&E - 23.6%