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 performance 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 ability to carry out its recent threat to throttle back data speeds on the heaviest 5% of data users to keep the network running efficiently for other customers.

Verizon's announcement that it will control network performance provoked some outrage among customers. But analysts said that throttling will be necessary to keep networks running efficiently as more and more users of smartphones and tablets access wireless networks and place greater demands on them by playing interactive games, watching videos and making mobile payments.

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

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

Analysts said Verizon hopes to avoid the kind of network performance problems that AT&T has faced with the iPhone, which was available only through AT&T 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 customer experience management systems (CMS). CMS tools deal with 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 capabilities, 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 statement Verizon released announcing the deal, Mark Driedger, vice president and general manager of network management at Tektronix, was quoted as saying that Tektronix is "proud to work with [Verizon] to help ensure their mobile broadband solutions meet the demands of the market."

Neither party mentioned the cost of the Iris tools, although prices of network management systems 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

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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