As of March of 2018, an EU directive requires that all new passenger cars be equipped with an EU eCall system. Because every second can be vital after a serious accident, it’s essential that in case of an accident, eCall needs to connect as quickly as possible to the nearest emergency center, no matter where the user is driving. This means that in every EU country your emergency call systems must automatically relay relevant information (country of origin, accident information, etc.) via SMS to the correct call center in case the driver is too incapacitated to speak. Needless to say, this is a high stakes area for testers, who need to be absolutely certain that in the event of a crash all relevant information is relayed correctly and that the call is routed to the nearest emergency operation center. Not only is this a matter of complying with EU law, but it’s also a matter of the health and safety of your users.
Leading European Telco Operator.
One of the biggest challenges here was the Network conditions since they change all the time, it was important that the company not simply validate this functionality and forget about it, but that they checked the status of the eCall service on a regular basis to ensure continued service, i.e. they needed to make eCall verification a part of their standard test flow.
eCall Services have to be dependable under all circumstances.
This implementation required 2 PCS operator SIM cards, two ATF instances in two different countries, two standard mobile phones (e.g. iOS or Android), and Segron test software set up. Again, we used out-of-the-box smartphones, exactly like their end-users would have, and we were able to configure the tests to our customer’s unique needs in less than a day.
SEGRON’s test suite was put in action with a few aims in mind:
- To detect any possible misconfigurations in the call set-up.
- To ensure that the relevant information was being relayed to EME center.
- To direct the attention of dedicated network engineer resources and skills from routine testing to make corrective actions in call set up.
- To ensure fulfilment of legal obligations toward authorities.
By running a series of automated tests, we were able to determine both the existence and the location of some gaps in service.
Notably, we found that the eCall system was connecting randomly to any emergency call center, rather than connecting to the closest (i.e. correct) one. More broadly, the service was also deemed to deliver information too slowly to meet the needs of an emergency situation in the field. Both of these were critical gaps, and by uncovering them in a timely fashion we put our clients in a position to dedicate necessary resources to closing those gaps. In this case, our final test results were based not just on end-point results, but also signaling and/or CDR data collected from various network elements. This empowered us to identify issues in the implementation of the eCall system that might otherwise not have revealed themselves until it was too late. This type of testing needs to be performed repeatedly and frequently in order to ensure service quality. If our client had decided to stick with manual testing, that would have meant a significant ongoing outlay of valuable engineer-hours.
By having automated these tests once, it was easier and faster to set up and run tests continuously. As a result, in addition to ensuring high quality of service in an area that’s critical to the safety of the company’s users, they were also able to reduce time-to-market for eCall services.