Saturday, 10 December 2016

Free Apps for Field Testing

People who follow me on Twitter may have often noticed I put photos when I am doing surveys, field testing, debugging, etc. In the good old days we often had to carry a lot of different kind of specialised test equipment to do basic measurements. Nowadays a lot of these can be done with the help of free apps on Android phones. The best tool that can provide a great amount of info is Qualcomm's QXDM but its really expensive.

Here are a few tools that I use. If you have one that I havent listed below, please add it in comments.

The screen shot shows the main tools along with my favourite, SpeedTest. While I agree that Speedtest is not the most reliable approach to speed of your connection, I think its the most standard one being used.

WiFi Analyzer is another great app that can be used at home and other locations where people complain about not getting good WiFi speeds. I have been at locations where the 2.4GHz is absolutely packed with APs. 5GHz is also getting busier, though there are still a lot of free channels.

G-NetTrack Lite is a great tool to keep track of the cells you have been visiting. In case you are driving this can collect a lot of valuable info. The paid version, G-NetTrack Pro can collect the info in form of a map that can be used for offline viewing with the help of Google Earth.

I use LTE Discovery mainly for finding the band I am currently camped on. It would be great if a tool can give the exact frequency and earfcn but the band is good enough too. I was once in a situation where I could see two different cells but they had the same PCI. Only after using this, I figured out they were on different bands.

Finally, Network Cell Info Lite gives neighbour cells which can often be useful. I am not sure of these are the neighbours from System Info or from Measurement Control messages sent by network or just something like Detected cells that the phone sees around.

Pind and IPConfig are other tools that can come handy sometimes.

Are there any other tools that you like? Please share using comments.


Alkesh said...

Thanks. These are very handy apps some of which I have used during field testing.
Others which are useful are Netmonitor, RF signal tracker, Ping Tools
These are useful for Android. iOS lacks these kind of apps though

Anonymous said...

I have used the mighty QXDM, and also Nokia Netmonitor, in my time.
The fact that nobody is providing open src lower-level API equivalents in 2016
for widespread public domain use is not pleasing. So what to do ??

As my group is now working on new sys architectures/impls for LTE/NR RATs
for both BS and device side, I will put building such APIs on the todo list
on the device side (much of it is already implicitly there behind the scenes
anyway if you are doing proper verification - how else would the QXDM have
appeared) . :-)

Anonymous said...

If you are rooted, look at Network Signal Guru, which will look at everything low level down to signalling (i.e SIBs, etc).

For finding towers, look at CellMapper, which will triangulate towers and estimate bands and display them for everyone on the website.

Christophe Eyquem said...

On Android Nougat, the *#*#4636#*#* gives you a menu with a lot more information than before, escpecially the exact (E/U)ARFCN you are using, really interesting.

I looks like this has become standard API in Android 7.0 and expect to see it on all next updates of network monitoring apps (it is already in GNetTrack). See here:

I am just missing the bandwidth now :)

Christophe Eyquem said...

Starting from Android 7.0 "Nougat", (U/E)ARFCN has become standard API information, and is available in the testing menu *#*#4636#*#* (tested on Nexus 6). See here:

The only missing info for me now is the carrier bandwidth and the use of multi-carrier as it seems we can see only one ARFCN and not multiple.