NIST Releases Free LTE Coverage App, SDK
Friday, November 09, 2018 | Comments

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) division, with funding from the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), developed a Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage application. Its purpose is to enable public-safety personnel to measure general LTE coverage quality using a standard smartphone.

The source code was published as a software development kit (SDK) to allow developers to enhance the application or use it in other applications. The LTE Coverage Tool application and SDK enable first responders and public-safety personnel to survey and evaluate coverage by LTE networks in environments where incidents are ongoing or planned. While accuracy of the data from user equipment (UE) measurements is much lower than that of specialized equipment, the application provides subjective assessments of coverage quality, using UEs that are already available to agencies and personnel.

Release of the software application and SDK is the culmination of several years of research efforts under the In-Building Coverage Quality Measurement Tool project, conducted by NIST PSCR and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS).

The goal of that project was to determine whether a UE, such as an LTE phone, experimental application could reliably assess LTE coverage. The final report, which will be released by NTIA ITS in late 2018, determined that "non-experts could quickly master the operation of this system and obtain results that are statistically equivalent to expert propagation measurement engineers.”

DHS S&T instructed NIST PSCR to release the software to allow first responders to access and use the application, and external developers to use the source code as a base for further development.

The tool is available for Android here. More information is here.

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On 11/14/18, Bob Wiser said:
This app needs to be made available for Apple devices.

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