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LTE Coverage Tool

This experimental application was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR), with funding from the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate (DHS S&T). Its purpose is to enable public safety personnel to measure general LTE coverage quality using a standard smartphone. Source code is published as a software development kit (SDK) to allow developers to enhance the application or use it in other applications.

Source code available at: https://github.com/usnistgov/LTECoverageTool/
Android application available at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.nist.oism.asd.ltecoveragetool

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 UE measurements is much lower than that of specialized equipment, the application provides subjective assessments of coverage quality, using UEs which 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 (i.e., LTE phone) experimental application could be used to provide a reliable assessment of LTE coverage. The final report, which will be released by NTIA ITS in 2019, 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 in order to allow first responders to access and use the application, and external developers to use the source code as a base for further development.
 

Specifications/Capabilities

Android device, software version 4.4 (KitKat, API level 19) through version 9 (Pie, API level 28).

Scientific Opportunities/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. DHS sponsored PSCR’s research in this area to determine whether first responders could use an experimental Android application to provide a reliable assessment of in-building LTE coverage. They found that non-experts could quickly master the operation of this system to measure general LTE coverage quality using a standard smartphone.

Created November 22, 2019