(19)
(11)EP 2 710 744 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
20.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/21

(21)Application number: 12726466.1

(22)Date of filing:  16.05.2012
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H04L 12/26  (2006.01)
H04M 3/30  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/GB2012/000440
(87)International publication number:
WO 2012/156670 (22.11.2012 Gazette  2012/47)

(54)

MEASUREMENT METHOD

MESSVERFAHREN

PROCÉDÉ DE MESURAGE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 17.05.2011 EP 11250531

(43)Date of publication of application:
26.03.2014 Bulletin 2014/13

(73)Proprietor: British Telecommunications public limited company
London EC1A 7AJ (GB)

(72)Inventors:
  • HATCH, Christopher, Byron
    London EC1A 7AJ (GB)
  • BEAUMONT, Stephen, Charles
    London EC1A 7AJ (GB)

(74)Representative: British Telecommunications public limited company Intellectual Property Department 
Ground Floor, Faraday Building 1 Knightrider Street
London EC4V 5BT
London EC4V 5BT (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 1 843 564
WO-A2-2004/086738
EP-A1- 2 112 810
GB-A- 2 367 971
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The present invention relates to a method of determining the performance of test equipment, and in particular to a method of determining the performance of network test equipment based on the analysis of a number of network test results.

    [0002] Figure 1 shows a schematic depiction of a conventional copper access network which carries telephony and digital subscriber line (DSL) signals between an exchange building 210 and a plurality of customer premises 400. Each of the customer premises is connected to the local exchange building by a line 220, an example of which is shown in Figure 1. The line comprises a pair of metallic conductors, normally made from copper. The line typically comprises an exchange portion 230, which connects the exchange to a primary node 235, and a distribution portion 240, which connects the primary node 235 to a secondary node 245. The secondary node 245 is connected to the customer premises 400 via a drop wire, which is often routed overhead via a telephone pole 255 but may be routed underground, for example in ducting. Further cable joints 265 may be made, for example to connect two lengths of cable together. It may be necessary to measure the electrical properties of a line at a cable joint, a primary node, a secondary node or at the customer premises.

    [0003] It is common for network operators to be forced by regulators to open up their access networks for use by other communications providers, in a process known as local loop unbundling (LLU). In LLU, other communications providers (CPs) install their transmission equipment in local exchanges such that the CPs can offer telephony and/or broadband services to their customers. The applicant operates an access network to which over 400 CPs have access. The regulatory regime obliges the network operator to provide access to the network and to associated network services on an equivalent basis to both CPs and other divisions of the network operator's company. As a consequence of this, the minimum specification for the access network lines is defined so that CPs are able to plan the provision of their services. The specification for the applicant's access network is known as Supplier Information Note 349, SIN 349 (2009) (see also http://www.btwebworld.com/sinet/349v2p3.pdf).

    [0004] The network operator needs to be able to measure the electrical parameters of the lines that comprise the access network to ensure that they are within the limits of the parameters defined in the specification. In order to do so, it will be understood that the measurement apparatus used should be calibrated such that CPs and others can be confident that the lines are within the specification.

    [0005] GB 2 367 971 discloses a system for determining the location of a fault on a telephone line. The transfer function for the line is obtained and a Fourier transform applied in order to determine the location of a discontinuity which is associated with the fault. EP 1 843 564 discloses a line diagnostic system which detects and correlates anomalies in the values of multiple line parameters in order to improve the stability, accuracy and reliability of the diagnostics. WO2004/086738 discloses a network test system which applies a test scan pattern to a transmission line. A database of the parameter patterns derived from these scans allows faults, and conditions which may lead to future faults to be detected.

    [0006] According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of determining the performance of a test apparatus, the method comprising the steps of: a) attaching a test apparatus to a communications network, the communications network comprising a plurality of local exchanges, each of the local exchanges being connected to a plurality of customer premises by a metallic loop; b) applying one or more test signals to a metallic loop; c) determining one or more metallic loop parameters in accordance with measurements made whilst the one or more test signals were applied to the metallic loop; d) comparing the one or more metallic loop parameters to predetermined threshold values; e) determining the status of the metallic loop on the basis of the comparison performed in step d); f) storing data relating to the status of the metallic loop in a database; and g) determining the accuracy of the one or more metallic loop parameters determined by the test apparatus by comparing the metallic loop parameter values with data stored in the database which relates to tests carried out by that test apparatus.

    [0007] The performance of the test apparatus may be determined to be acceptable if the ratio of test results indicating an acceptable metallic loop status to test results indicating an unacceptable metallic loop status is greater than a predetermined threshold value This ratio may be determined based on a pre-determined number of measurements. For example, the performance of the test apparatus may be determined to be acceptable if the ratio of test results indicating an acceptable metallic loop status to test results indicating an unacceptable metallic loop status is greater than a predetermined threshold value is greater than 75% and this ratio has been calculated from at least 20 measurements.

    [0008] The metallic loop parameters measured may be the insertion loss, the resistance of the metallic loop and the capacitance between the two wires which comprise the metallic loop. The state of the metallic loop may be determined using a Cone of Acceptability (CoA) analysis, in which the state of the metallic loop is determined by: a) determining an estimate for the length of the metallic loop for each of the plurality of metallic loop parameters based on the measured parameter value and a pre-determined further value associated with each of the plurality of parameters; b) determining a weighted average transmission line length based on the plurality of transmission line length estimates; and c) inferring the condition of the transmission line based on the weighted average determined in b) and the plurality of transmission line length estimates determined in a). Furthermore, in c) the ratio of the estimated transmission line length to the weighted average transmission line length may be determined for each of the plurality of transmission line parameters and the condition of the transmission line is inferred in accordance with the plurality of ratios.
    The condition of the transmission line can be inferred as being acceptable if each of the plurality of ratios are less than a first predetermined value. Similarly, it can be inferred that the transmission line may have an unacceptable condition in the future if each of the plurality of ratios determined in c) are greater than the first predetermined value but less than a second predetermined value. Furthermore, it can be inferred that the transmission line has an unacceptable condition if each of the plurality of ratios determined in step c) are greater than the second predetermined value. According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a test apparatus comprising a processing unit, memory means and data storage means, the apparatus being configured, in use, to perform a method as described above. According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a data carrier for use in a computing device, the data carrier comprising computer executable code which, in use, performs a method as described above. According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a communications network comprising: a plurality of local exchanges; a plurality of communications links, each of the plurality of communications links connecting a local exchange to a local premises; a test database comprising test data for each of the plurality of communications links; wherein, in use, the test database can be analysed to determine the performance of a test apparatus as described above on the basis of the test data associated with that test apparatus.

    [0009] Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

    Figure 1 shows a schematic depiction of a conventional copper access network;

    Figure 2 shows a schematic depiction of a test system 100 according to the present invention;

    Figure 3 shows a graphical depiction of a test result showing a cone of acceptability measurement; and

    Figure 4 shows a schematic depiction of test apparatus 300 according to the present invention.



    [0010] Figure 2 shows a schematic depiction of a test system 100 according to the present invention. The test system comprises a test switch 110, test head 120, test controller 130, test database 140 and communications interface 150. The test system is configured to measure the parameters of a plurality of lines 220 which connect the local exchange 200 to each of a plurality of customer premises 400. For the sake of clarity only one line 220 and one customer premises 400 are shown in Figure 2. It will be understood that dependent on the size of the exchange and the geographical area served by it, the local exchange may have between several hundred and tens of thousands of different lines. Each line comprises a pair of metallic conductors and at each customer premises the metallic pair is terminated by network termination equipment (NTE) 230. The line will be normally used to support telephony signals and or data signals, for example using digital subscriber line (DSL) technology. At the exchange building 210, the line is connected to the local exchange switch 200 via the test switch 110. The local exchange switch 200 is further connected to a core exchange (or other exchange) via communications cable 240. The test switch 110 is connected to each of the lines connected to the local exchange and is located within the local exchange building 210, in between the local exchange switch and the NTE. The test switch is connected to a test head 120, which is in turn connected to test controller 130. The test controller is connected to a test database 140 and to a communications interface 150. The test database is also connected to the communications interface 150.

    [0011] When it is required that a particular line 220 be tested, then an engineer will be despatched to the respective customer premises 400 so that test apparatus 300 can be connected to the CPE 230. The engineer can then initiate a test procedure, for example by sending a predetermined message to the test controller using a mobile telephone 400 (for example), via the communications interface 150. The message will include information that allows the test controller to identify the line to be tested such that the test switch can connect that line to the test head. This will cause the line to be disconnected from the local exchange switch but as the test apparatus is connected to the NTE it is unlikely that the line will be in use. The test apparatus is now connected to the test head via the line and thus a series of test signals can be sent over the line in order for the line parameters of interest to be measured.

    [0012] It will be understood by a skilled person that the exact testing sequence used is not relevant to the teaching of the present invention. An exemplary test sequence may commence with the test head generating a tone signal, for example at a frequency of 1.6 kHz. This tone acts as a signal to the test apparatus to indicate that the test sequence has begun and can also be used to determine the insertion loss in the line at 1.6 kHz. Once the tone has ceased, the test head will connect both the conductors that comprise the line, which are conventionally referred to as A and B wires, to earth and the resistance of the A and B wires is determined. Then, the A and B wires are connected together so that the resistance of the looped wires can be determined. Finally, the loop is disconnected and AC voltage, DC voltage, capacitance and insulation resistance tests are performed for each of the A and B wires. Once the testing is completed an indication may be sent to the test apparatus so that the engineer can remove it from the NTE. Then the test head will be disconnected from the line by the test switch and the line will be re-connected to the local exchange switch.

    [0013] The parameter data generated during the test will be stored in the test apparatus before it is transmitted to the test database. This may be achieved by connecting the test apparatus to a computer which is connected to an intranet port such that it is in communication with the test database. The test parameter data will be stored along with a range of other data, such as the time and date of the test, identification data for the engineer who performed the test, identification data for the test apparatus that was used to perform the test, etc.

    [0014] The applicant's co-pending European patent application 10251013.8 discloses a measurement technique in which the quality of a line can be determined from a smaller group of parameters. Some of the measured electrical parameters are, to varying extents, mostly dependent on the length of the line whilst being independent of the other factors and parameters that can affect the electrical characteristics of the line. The parameters which are most dependent on the length of the line are the capacitance value between the A wire and the B wire, the loop resistance and the insertion loss at 1.6 kHz. Using a large database of measurements that have been taken from lines for which their length is known, it is possible to characterise the average electrical parameters of those lines. By measuring a single cable, the length of which is unknown, it is possible to derive an estimation of the cable length from each of the measured parameter values. Furthermore, it is then possible to determine a weighted estimation of the cable length based on these derived values. Expressed formally, the weighted length, LW, is given by

    where LC is the length derived from the capacitance measurement, LR is the length derived from the resistance measurement, LI is the length derived from the insertion loss measurement, wC is the weighting factor associated with the length derived from the capacitance measurement, wR is the weighting factor associated with the length derived from the resistance measurement and wI is the weighting factor associated with the length derived from the insertion loss measurement. It has been found that the length derived from the capacitance measurement, LC, is the value that is least dependent on cable parameters other than the length of the cable and thus this derived value should be given a greater weighting value than the other derived length values, for example wC = 3 and wR = wI = 1. Furthermore, it has been observed that an estimation of the quality of a line can be made by comparing the ratios of the lengths derived from the measured cable parameters and the weighted length value. For example, a line may be regarded as having an acceptable performance if all of the ratios of derived length to weighted length are within a first predefined interval. Figure 3 shows a graphical depiction of how such a test result can be displayed with the graph 500 showing the data points for capacitance 520, insertion loss 530 and loop resistance 540 being shown as being within a cone of acceptability (CoA) 510, indicating that the line is of an acceptable quality.

    [0015] It will be understood that an operator of a national network will rapidly compile a large test database. The applicant operates a network which has in excess of 30 million lines and the network engineers will perform thousands of tests each day on the network. Since the introduction of the pair quality testing programme (outlined above and described fully in EP10251013.8) in excess of 2,000,000 pair quality test results have been recorded and stored in a database.

    [0016] If a single test result indicates that a particular line has an unacceptable quality, for example one or more data points may lie outside of the CoA then this may be because:
    1. (i) there is an unusual build of the line under test;
    2. (ii) the line is in some way faulty, that is, more formally, the electrical properties of the line are outside of the basic specification; or
    3. (iii) the tester is not accurately reporting one or more of the length dependent parameters and is therefore operating outside of its specified calibration.


    [0017] If a series of test results, taken from a number of different lines, show that a particular test apparatus is generating a significant proportion of results that indicate that the lines under test have an unacceptable quality then it is unlikely, by definition, that this is due to a large number of unusual lines being tested. Similarly, it is not very likely that the cause of the test results will be a large number of faulty lines (currently, a fault can be expected on a line in the applicant's access network once every 14 years). Thus, if a test apparatus indicates a significant number of failures (that is, an unacceptable line quality measurement) from a large number of measurements, taken from lines having a large range of pair lengths, then it is likely that the test apparatus is not functioning properly. Thus, if the test database holds a sufficient number of records which relate to a particular test apparatus then that test apparatus can be assumed to be operating within calibrated limits if the proportion of line tests which have a CoA pass is above a predetermined threshold. For example, a test apparatus having 75% CoA passes for 20 or more tests may be considered to be within calibrated limits. Furthermore, a test apparatus having fewer than 75% of the tests leading to a CoA pass for more than 20 tests can be considered as being out of calibration and a formal testing and calibration procedure should be arranged. As the most recent results will be more relevant to the current performance of the test apparatus then more historic test results may be discarded when determining the performance of the meter. For example, as well as considering a minimum number of test results (for example 20) a maximum number may also be considered, for example only the most recent 100 tests may be used. It will be understood that different maximum and minimum values may be used.

    [0018] It will be understood that the threshold level for the acceptable performance of a test apparatus may vary and may be set at, for example 85% or even higher. An appropriate level may be determined statistically from an analysis of test results and the proportion of test apparatuses that failed to meet the performance threshold which subsequently required re-calibration and/or repairing.

    [0019] In addition to the three length-dependent parameters discussed above, the determination of whether a line is determined as having an acceptable degree of quality can be based on the measurements of the DC voltage on the line and the insulation resistance. As discussed above, these measurements are made after the line has been disconnected. Thus, any DC voltage measured on the line by the test apparatus is most likely to be caused by the partial degradation of the insulation on the line under test and/or an adjacent line in use (which powered by the line card at a nominal value of 50 Volts DC). The DC voltage and insulation measurements are made between the A and B wires and between both the A wire and earth and the B wire and earth. The measured parameter values are recorded as described above. The results from approximately 2 million test measurements indicate that the approximately 96% of DC voltage results are within the range of ± 2V and 95% of insulation resistance measurements are at least 1 MΩ. Accordingly, if the values of these parameters do not reach a predetermined threshold then it can be concluded that the line under test does not reach acceptable quality levels. For example the line may be deemed to fail if the measured DC voltage is outside the range of ± 4V or if the insulation resistance value is less than 0.5 MΩ. It should be understood that other parameter values may be used.

    [0020] These parameters may be used as an alternative to, or as an extension to, the testing based on the three length-dependent parameters discussed above. For example, if the test results for a particular test apparatus show that, for example, less than 75% of lines tested have DC voltage and insulation resistance measurements that meet the normal ranges and distributions measured over a minimum of 20 individual Pair Quality tests then the test apparatus may be deemed to not be operating correctly. Accordingly, it may then be taken out of service and be re-calibrated and/or be repaired and then re-calibrated.

    [0021] Figure 4 shows a schematic depiction of test apparatus 300 according to the present invention. The test apparatus 300 comprises test interface leads 305, processing unit 310, memory means 315 and data storage means 320. The network testing equipment further comprises a communications interface 325 and a data bus 330 which interconnects the interface 325 with the test interface leads 305, processing unit 310, memory means 315 and the data storage means 320. The test interface leads 305 can be connected to a line at either a primary node, a secondary node, a cable joint or at any other network location where the pair of copper wires that constitute the line are accessible. The test interface leads 305 can be connected to the line and the processing unit 310 causes appropriate test signals to be generated and applied to the line under test. The response of the line to the test signals can be measured and the parameters of interest determined.

    [0022] For example, if using the method of EP10251013.8, then based on the pre-determined average parameter values per kilometre length, the processing means can determine the derived length for each of the parameters of interest and then the weighted average length. Once the weighted average length has been calculated then it is possible to determine the condition of the line, for example by computing the ratios of the derived length to the weighted average length for each of the parameters of interest or by computing a cone analysis. The measured responses and all calculated data can be stored within the data storage means 320.

    [0023] Software 350 to interpret the line measurements, calculate the parameters of interest and then compute any analysis of the parameters is also stored within the data storage means 320. In operation this software will be copied into the memory means and then executed by the processing unit in order to implement a method according to the present invention. The communications interface 325 may be, for example, a cellular data modem such that the portable network test apparatus 300 can transmit data to the test system 100 via a wireless network 190, for example via communications interface 150. If the test apparatus comprises such functionality then the test apparatus may be used to initiate the test procedure by sending a predetermined message to the test controller. Alternatively, or in addition, the network interface may allow the portable network test apparatus to be connected to a fixed network port such that data can be exchanged between the portable network test apparatus and the OSS. For example, it may be possible to connect the test apparatus to a personal computer which is connected to a corporate intranet, for example via a USB connection, so that all of the test data held on the test apparatus can be communicated to the test database 140.

    [0024] It will be understood that the test system described above will comprise one of a number of operational support systems (OSSs) which are required to operate an advanced communications network. The test apparatus may also receive instructions from the test system for the engineer operating the test apparatus, for example detailing subsequent cables to be tested and/or other jobs which have been scheduled to be performed by the engineer.

    [0025] The initiation of the test sequence may involve placing a telephone to a call centre with human operatives or to an interactive voice response system. Alternatively, the engineer may send a text message or an email to a dedicated address. It will be understood that the information sent to the communications interface 150 must comprise sufficient data to allow the line to be tested to be identified, along with additional data concerning the engineer performing the testing and the test to be carried out.

    [0026] It will be understood that such an apparatus may perform the method according to the present invention on its own or in addition to other testing, fault identification or fault location techniques, such as those disclosed in the applicant's earlier patent applications, for example, WO04/086738, WO01/76209 or WO01/76208. Furthermore, the apparatus may comprise additional test modules that enable it to test for other parameters which relate to the state of the copper pairs which comprise the transmission line, or to send and analyse data signals such that the ability of the transmission line to carry data services, such as DSL, for example.

    [0027] A portable network test apparatus according to the present invention may be a standalone unit. For example, test apparatus such as the EXFO AXS-200 or the JDSU HST-3000C may be modified by the provision of additional software in order to be able to implement the present invention. Alternatively, it may be a suitably adapted laptop computer, such as a Panasonic™ Toughbook™, a tablet computer such as an Apple iPad or a smartphone with additional software and hardware to enable the functionality of the test apparatus to be implemented. In such a case, the data storage means will additionally store operating system software, one or more further applications and data which has been generated by, or is used by, the computer. Computer software suitable for implementing a method according to the present invention may be provided by a download, for example via the internet, or on some physical media, for example, DVD, CD-ROM, USB memory stick, etc.

    [0028] In summary, the performance of a test apparatus for a communications network may be inferred by analysing a set of performance data results measured on a number of different lines in the network. Once a sample of sufficient size for a particular test apparatus has been created then it is possible to infer the performance of the test apparatus based on the ratio of passes to fails recorded.


    Claims

    1. A method of determining the performance of a test apparatus, the method comprising the steps of:

    a) attaching by an operator a test apparatus (300) to a communications network, the communications network comprising a plurality of local exchanges (200), each of the local exchanges (220) being connected to a plurality of customer premises (400) by a metallic loop (220);

    b) applying by the test apparatus one or more test signals to a metallic loop;

    c) determining by the test apparatus one or more metallic loop parameters in accordance with measurements made whilst the one or more test signals were applied to the metallic loop;

    d) comparing by the test apparatus the one or more metallic loop parameters to predetermined threshold values;

    e) determining by the test apparatus the status of the metallic loop on the basis of the comparison performed in step d);

    f) storing by the test apparatus data relating to the status of the metallic loop in a database; and

    g) determining by the test apparatus the accuracy of the one or more metallic loop parameters determined by the test apparatus by comparing the metallic loop parameter values with data stored in the database which relates to tests carried out by that test apparatus.


     
    2. A method according to Claim 1, wherein the performance of the test apparatus (300) is determined to be acceptable if the ratio of test results indicating an acceptable metallic loop status to test results indicating an unacceptable metallic loop status is greater than a predetermined threshold value.
     
    3. A method according to Claim 2, wherein the ratio of test results indicating an acceptable metallic loop status to test results indicating an unacceptable metallic loop status is determined based on a pre-determined number of measurements.
     
    4. A method according to Claim 2 and Claim 3 wherein the performance of the test apparatus (300) is determined to be acceptable if the ratio of test results indicating an acceptable metallic loop status to test results indicating an unacceptable metallic loop status is greater than 75% and this ratio has been calculated from at least 20 measurements.
     
    5. A method according to any preceding Claim wherein the metallic loop parameters measured comprise the insertion loss, the resistance of the metallic loop and the capacitance between the two wires which comprise the metallic loop.
     
    6. A method according to Claim 5, wherein the state of the metallic loop (220) is determined by:

    a) determining an estimate for the length of the metallic loop for each of the plurality of metallic loop parameters based on the measured parameter value and a pre-determined further value associated with each of the plurality of parameters;

    b) determining a weighted average transmission line length based on the plurality of transmission line length estimates; and

    c) inferring the condition of the transmission line based on the weighted average determined in b) and the plurality of transmission line length estimates determined in a).


     
    7. A method according to Claim 6, wherein in c) the ratio of the estimated transmission line length to the weighted average transmission line length is determined for each of the plurality of transmission line parameters and the condition of the transmission line is inferred in accordance with the plurality of ratios.
     
    8. A method according to Claim 7, wherein in step c), the condition of the transmission line can be inferred as being acceptable if each of the plurality of ratios are less than a first predetermined value.
     
    9. A method according to Claim 7 or Claim 8, wherein it can be inferred that the transmission line may have an unacceptable condition in the future if each of the plurality of ratios determined in c) are greater than the first predetermined value but less than a second predetermined value.
     
    10. A method according to any of Claims 7 to 9, wherein in c), it can be inferred that the transmission line has an unacceptable condition if each of the plurality of ratios determined in step c) are greater than the second predetermined value.
     
    11. A test apparatus (300) comprising a processing unit (310), memory means (315) and data storage means (320), the apparatus being configured, in use, to:

    a) attach to a communications network, the communications network comprising a plurality of local exchanges (200), each of the local exchanges (220) being connected to a plurality of customer premises (400) by a metallic loop (220);

    b) apply one or more test signals to a metallic loop;

    c) determine one or more metallic loop parameters in accordance with measurements made whilst the one or more test signals were applied to the metallic loop;

    d) compare the one or more metallic loop parameters to predetermined threshold values;

    e) determine the status of the metallic loop on the basis of the comparison performed in step d);

    f) store data relating to the status of the metallic loop in a database; and

    g) determine the accuracy of the one or more metallic loop parameters determined by the test apparatus by comparing the metallic loop parameter values with data stored in the database which relates to tests carried out by that test apparatus.


     
    12. A communications network comprising:

    a plurality of local exchanges (200);

    a plurality of communications links (220), each of the plurality of communications links (220) connecting a local exchange (200) to a local premises (400);

    a test database (140) comprising test data for each of the plurality of communications links (220);

    wherein, in use, the test database (140) can be analysed to determine the performance of a test apparatus (300) according to Claim 11 on the basis of the test data associated with that test apparatus.


     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verfahren zum Bestimmen der Leistungsfähigkeit einer Prüfvorrichtung, wobei das Verfahren die folgenden Schritte umfasst:

    a) das Anschließen einer Prüfvorrichtung (300) an ein Kommunikationsnetz durch einen Betreiber, wobei das Kommunikationsnetz eine Mehrzahl von Ortsvermittlungen (200) aufweist, wobei jede der Ortsvermittlungen (220) durch eine metallische Schleife (220) mit einer Mehrzahl von Kundenstandorten (400) verbunden ist;

    b) das Anlegen eines oder mehrerer Prüfsignale an eine metallische Schleife durch die Prüfvorrichtung;

    c) das Bestimmen eines oder mehrerer Parameter der metallischen Schleife durch die Prüfvorrichtung gemäß Messungen, die während des Anlegens des einen oder der mehreren Prüfsignale an die metallische Schleife vorgenommen werden;

    d) das Vergleichen des einen oder der mehreren Parameter der metallischen Schleife mit vorgegebenen Schwellenwerten durch die Prüfvorrichtung;

    e) das Bestimmen des Status der metallischen Schleife durch die Prüfvorrichtung auf der Grundlage des Vergleichs, der in Schritt d) durchgeführt wird;

    f) das Speichern von Daten, die den Status der metallischen Schleife betreffen, in einer Datenbank durch die Prüfvorrichtung; und

    g) das Bestimmen der Genauigkeit des einen oder der mehreren Parameter der metallischen Schleife, die von der Prüfvorrichtung bestimmt werden, durch die Prüfvorrichtung mittels Vergleichen der Parameterwerte der metallischen Schleife mit Daten, die in der Datenbank gespeichert sind, die Prüfungen zugeordnet ist, die von dieser Prüfvorrichtung ausgeführt werden.


     
    2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Leistungsfähigkeit der Prüfvorrichtung (300) als akzeptabel bestimmt wird, wenn das Verhältnis von Prüfergebnissen, die einen akzeptablen Status der metallischen Schleife anzeigen, zu Prüfergebnissen, die einen nicht akzeptablen Status der metallischen Schleife anzeigen, größer als ein vorgegebener Schwellenwert ist.
     
    3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 2, wobei das Verhältnis von Prüfergebnissen, die einen akzeptablen Status der metallischen Schleife anzeigen, zu Prüfergebnissen, die einen nicht akzeptablen Status der metallischen Schleife anzeigen, auf Grundlage einer vorgegebenen Anzahl von Messungen bestimmt wird.
     
    4. Verfahren nach Anspruch 2 und Anspruch 3, wobei die Leistungsfähigkeit der Prüfvorrichtung (300) als akzeptabel bestimmt wird, wenn das Verhältnis von Prüfergebnissen, die einen akzeptablen Status der metallischen Schleife anzeigen, zu Prüfergebnissen, die einen nicht akzeptablen Status der metallischen Schleife anzeigen, größer als 75 % ist und dieses Verhältnis aus mindestens 20 Messungen berechnet wurde.
     
    5. Verfahren nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei die gemessenen Parameter der metallischen Schleife die Einfügungsdämpfung, den Widerstand der metallischen Schleife und die Kapazität zwischen den zwei Leitungen, die die metallische Schleife einschließen, umfassen.
     
    6. Verfahren nach Anspruch 5, wobei der Zustand der metallischen Schleife (220) bestimmt wird durch:

    a) das Bestimmen einer Schätzung für die Länge der metallischen Schleife für jeden der Mehrzahl von Parametern der metallischen Schleife auf Grundlage des gemessenen Parameterwertes und eines vorgegebenen weiteren Wertes, der jedem der Mehrzahl von Parametern zugeordnet ist;

    b) das Bestimmen einer gewichteten durchschnittlichen Übertragungsleitungslänge auf Grundlage der Mehrzahl von Übertragungsleitungslängenschätzungen; und

    c) das Ableiten des Zustands der Übertragungsleitung auf Grundlage des gewichteten Durchschnitts, der in b) bestimmt wird, und der Mehrzahl von Übertragungsleitungslängenschätzungen, die in a) bestimmt werden.


     
    7. Verfahren nach Anspruch 6, wobei in c) das Verhältnis der geschätzten Übertragungsleitungslänge zu der gewichteten durchschnittlichen Übertragungsleitungslänge für jeden der Mehrzahl von Übertragungsleitungsparametern bestimmt wird und der Zustand der Übertragungsleitung gemäß der Mehrzahl von Verhältnissen abgeleitet wird.
     
    8. Verfahren nach Anspruch 7, wobei in Schritt c) der Zustand der Übertragungsleitung als akzeptabel abgeleitet werden kann, wenn jedes der Mehrzahl von Verhältnissen kleiner als ein erster vorgegebener Wert ist.
     
    9. Verfahren nach Anspruch 7 oder Anspruch 8, wobei abgeleitet werden kann, dass die Übertragungsleitung in Zukunft möglicherweise einen nicht akzeptablen Zustand aufweisen kann, wenn jedes der Mehrzahl von Verhältnissen, die in c) bestimmt werden, größer als der erste vorgegebene Wert ist, jedoch kleiner als ein zweiter vorgegebener Wert.
     
    10. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 7 bis 9, wobei in c) abgeleitet werden kann, dass die Übertragungsleitung einen nicht akzeptablen Zustand aufweist, wenn jedes der Mehrzahl von Verhältnissen, die in c) bestimmt werden, größer als der zweite vorgegebene Wert ist.
     
    11. Prüfvorrichtung (300), die eine Verarbeitungseinheit (310), eine Speichereinrichtung (315) und eine Datenspeichereinrichtung (320) aufweist, wobei die Vorrichtung dazu ausgebildet ist, im Betrieb:

    a) an ein Kommunikationsnetz anzuschließen, wobei das Kommunikationsnetz eine Mehrzahl von Ortsvermittlungen (200) aufweist, wobei jede der Ortsvermittlungen (220) durch eine metallische Schleife (220) mit einer Mehrzahl von Kundenstandorten (400) verbunden ist;

    b) ein oder mehrere Prüfsignale an eine metallische Schleife anzulegen;

    c) einen oder mehrere Parameter der metallischen Schleife gemäß Messungen zu bestimmen, die während des Anlegens des einen oder der mehreren Prüfsignale an die metallische Schleife vorgenommen werden;

    d) den einen oder die mehreren Parameter der metallischen Schleife mit vorgegebenen Schwellenwerten zu vergleichen;

    e) den Status der metallischen Schleife auf der Grundlage des Vergleichs zu bestimmen, der in Schritt d) durchgeführt wird;

    f) Daten, die den Status der metallischen Schleife betreffen, in einer Datenbank zu speichern; und

    g) die Genauigkeit des einen oder der mehreren Parameter der metallischen Schleife, die von der Prüfvorrichtung bestimmt werden, mittels Vergleichen der Parameterwerte der metallischen Schleife mit Daten, die in der Datenbank gespeichert sind, die Prüfungen zugeordnet ist, die von dieser Prüfvorrichtung ausgeführt werden, zu bestimmen.


     
    12. Kommunikationsnetz, das aufweist:

    eine Mehrzahl von Ortsvermittlungen (200);

    eine Mehrzahl von Kommunikationsverbindungen (220), wobei jede der Mehrzahl von Kommunikationsverbindungen (220) eine Ortsvermittlung (200) mit einem lokalen Standort (400) verbindet;

    eine Prüfdatenbank (140), die Prüfdaten für jede der Mehrzahl von Kommunikationsverbindungen (220) enthält;

    wobei im Betrieb die Prüfdatenbank (140) dafür analysiert werden kann, die Leistungsfähigkeit einer Prüfvorrichtung (300) nach Anspruch 11 auf der Grundlage der Prüfdaten zu bestimmen, die dieser Prüfvorrichtung zugeordnet sind.


     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé de détermination des performances d'un appareil de test, le procédé comprenant les étapes consistant à :

    a) connecter, par un opérateur, un appareil de test (300) à un réseau de communication, le réseau de communication comprenant une pluralité de centraux locaux (200), chacun des centraux locaux (220) étant connecté à une pluralité de locaux d'abonné (400) par une boucle métallique (220) ;

    b) appliquer, par l'appareil de test, un ou plusieurs signaux de test à une boucle métallique ;

    c) déterminer, par l'appareil de test, un ou plusieurs paramètres de boucle métallique selon des mesures effectuées pendant l'application du ou des signaux de test à la boucle métallique ;

    d) comparer, par l'appareil de test, le ou les paramètres de boucle métallique à des valeurs-seuils prédéterminées ;

    e) déterminer, par l'appareil de test, le statut de la boucle métallique sur la base de la comparaison réalisée à l'étape d) ;

    f) stocker, par l'appareil de test, des données relatives au statut de la boucle métallique dans une base de données ; et

    g) déterminer, par l'appareil de test, la précision du ou des paramètres de boucle métallique déterminés par l'appareil de test en comparant les valeurs de paramètre de boucle métallique à des données stockées dans la base de données qui se rapportent à des tests réalisés par cet appareil de test.


     
    2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel il est déterminé que les performances de l'appareil de test (300) sont acceptables si le rapport entre des résultats de test indiquant un statut acceptable de boucle métallique et des résultats de test indiquant un statut inacceptable de boucle métallique est supérieur à une valeur-seuil prédéterminée.
     
    3. Procédé selon la revendication 2, dans lequel le rapport entre des résultats de test indiquant un statut acceptable de boucle métallique et des résultats de test indiquant un statut inacceptable de boucle métallique est déterminé sur la base d'un nombre de mesures prédéterminé.
     
    4. Procédé selon la revendication 2 et la revendication 3, dans lequel il est déterminé que les performances de l'appareil de test (300) sont acceptables si le rapport entre des résultats de test indiquant un statut acceptable de boucle métallique et des résultats de test indiquant un statut inacceptable de boucle métallique est supérieur à 75 % et si ce rapport a été calculé à partir d'au moins 20 mesures.
     
    5. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel les paramètres de boucle métallique mesurés incluent la perte d'insertion, la résistance de la boucle métallique et la capacité entre les deux fils qui constituent la boucle métallique.
     
    6. Procédé selon la revendication 5, dans lequel le statut de la boucle métallique (220) est déterminé en réalisant les étapes consistant à :

    a) déterminer une estimation de la longueur de la boucle métallique pour chaque paramètre de la pluralité de paramètres de boucle métallique sur la base de la valeur de paramètre mesurée et d'une autre valeur prédéterminée associée à chaque paramètre de la pluralité de paramètres ;

    b) déterminer une longueur moyenne pondérée de ligne de transmission sur la base de la pluralité d'estimations de longueur de ligne de transmission ; et

    c) déduire l'état de la ligne de transmission sur la base de la moyenne pondérée déterminée en b) et de la pluralité d'estimations de longueur de ligne de transmission déterminées en a).


     
    7. Procédé selon la revendication 6, dans lequel en c) le rapport entre la longueur estimée de ligne de transmission et la longueur moyenne pondérée de ligne de transmission est déterminé pour chaque paramètre de la pluralité de paramètres de ligne de transmission et l'état de la ligne de transmission est déduit selon la pluralité de rapports.
     
    8. Procédé selon la revendication 7, dans lequel à l'étape c), l'état de la ligne de transmission peut être déduit comme étant acceptable si chaque rapport de la pluralité de rapports est inférieur à une première valeur prédéterminée.
     
    9. Procédé selon la revendication 7 ou la revendication 8, dans lequel il peut être déduit que la ligne de transmission peut avoir un état inacceptable dans le futur si chaque rapport de la pluralité de rapports déterminés en c) est supérieur à la première valeur prédéterminée mais inférieur à une seconde valeur prédéterminée.
     
    10. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 7 à 9, dans lequel en c), il peut être déduit que la ligne de transmission a un état inacceptable si chaque rapport de la pluralité de rapports déterminés en c) est supérieur à la seconde valeur prédéterminée.
     
    11. Appareil de test (300) comprenant une unité de traitement (310), un moyen formant mémoire (315) et un moyen de stockage de données (320), l'appareil étant configuré, lors de l'utilisation, pour :

    a) se connecter à un réseau de communication, le réseau de communication comprenant une pluralité de centraux locaux (200), chacun des centraux locaux (220) étant connecté à une pluralité de locaux d'abonné (400) par une boucle métallique (220) ;

    b) appliquer un ou plusieurs signaux de test à une boucle métallique ;

    c) déterminer un ou plusieurs paramètres de boucle métallique selon des mesures effectuées pendant l'application du ou des signaux de test à la boucle métallique ;

    d) comparer le ou les paramètres de boucle métallique à des valeurs-seuils prédéterminées ;

    e) déterminer le statut de la boucle métallique sur la base de la comparaison réalisée à l'étape d) ;

    f) stocker des données relatives au statut de la boucle métallique dans une base de données ; et

    g) déterminer la précision du ou des paramètres de boucle métallique déterminés par l'appareil de test en comparant les valeurs de paramètre de boucle métallique à des données stockées dans la base de données qui se rapportent à des tests réalisés par cet appareil de test.


     
    12. Réseau de communication, comprenant :

    une pluralité de centraux locaux (200) ;

    une pluralité de liaisons de communication (220), chaque liaison de la pluralité de liaisons de communication (220) connectant un central local (200) à un local d'abonné (400) ;

    une base de données de test (140) comprenant des données de test pour chaque liaison de la pluralité de liaisons de communication (220) ;

    lors de l'utilisation, la base de données de test (140) pouvant être analysée pour déterminer les performances d'un appareil de test (300) selon la revendication 11 sur la base des données de test associées à cet appareil de test.


     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description