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Overcome testing challenges for the connected home

24 Aug 2012  | Timothy Winters, Timothy Sheehan

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Along with the test plan creation, another challenge lies in first verifying a test tool for conformance to the TR-069 standard, then using this proven suite to test the CPE's adherence to the standard. The UNH-IOL has chosen the QACafe CDRouter product to perform all TR-069 conformance testing. The CDRouter allows the UNH-IOL to create test scripts for the positive and negative test cases within the TR-069 conformance test plan.

2. Non-CWMP interfaces depend on ingenuity.
The TR-069 conformance testing will address a growing number of different devices in the home such as modems, routers, gateways, set-top boxes, and VoIP phones. Each type of device has a different purpose in a given topology and requires specific parameters for configuration and connectivity. During conformance testing, it is necessary to change the configuration on devices to produce events. SSH, Telnet, or WEB interfaces are the most common interfaces used to configure these devices. There are devices that do not have a user interface, however. Testing devices with no user interfaces challenges test engineers to use other methods to change the configuration such as DHCP, DNS, or TFTP, thereby trigging the TR-069 event originally being tested.

3. Base configuration (device reset) takes time.
Individual test runs require bringing the CPE back to its base configuration. This can be achieved by saving and loading a base configuration—unless a device does not support these types of functions. In other cases, the test engineer may need to reset the device to its base configuration by hand, requiring carefully documented steps to ensure reproducible results. In either case, a device reset adds additional time to the test process.

4. WAN & LAN connectivity adds complexity.
Within a customer premise, there can be a great number of CWMP enabled devices, such as those described above. These devices may also depend upon other non-CWMP protocols to establish connectivity. A VoIP phone that is behind a residential gateway can employ DHCP, NAT, and STUN to establish and maintain connectivity to the auto configuration server (ACS), for example. These non-CWMP protocols, as well as HTTP, XML, SOAP and TR-069, must all be verified during conformance testing, however. Similarly, service providers often require encryption of CWMP sessions to protect sensitive data. The encryption/decryption process can add additional complexity to the testing by making it necessary to decrypt network traffic before beginning the process of debugging issues uncovered during testing.

5. Data-model and interoperability must be considered.
Many different types of CPE will use TR-069 for configuration and control. Each of the device types uses a different device data model, similar to a simple network management protocol (SNMP) management information base (MIB), to provide support for different configuration parameters. During conformance testing, it is necessary to manipulate some of these parameters as well as carefully select test parameters to be interoperable with those parameters supported by the type of device being testing. When testing a set-top box, for example, the test script cannot use a parameter intended to configure the telephone number for a VoIP device.

TR-069 and IPv6 are positioned to be the primary technologies for home networks of the future. Engineers cannot properly design and implement devices and systems without comprehensive, reliable evaluation, however. Testing for these two protocols presents a number of challenges, as detailed above. By focusing on the potential pitfalls and designing test beds and test processes upfront, design teams can deliver quality products to market in an effective timeframe.

About the authors
Timothy Sheehan is a manager at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL). He is the TR-069 technical lead for the UNH-IOL, overseeing various aspects in testing of TR-069 enabled devices and working on a variety of multivendor CWMP testing scenarios. In addition, he is an editor of the Broadband Forum's TR-069 Conformance Test Specification. Timothy joined the UNH-IOL in 2011, bringing more than 20 years of experience in the broadband, telecommunications, networking and defense industries. He is an expert in the TR-069 protocol, broadband protocols such as xDSLs, and connectivity protocols such as IGMP and Protocol Independent Multicast (PIM).

Timothy Winters is a senior manager and United States Government IPv6 (USGv6) and IPv6 Ready Logo technical lead for the UNH-IOL. He is an expert in routing protocols: Open Shortest Path First (OSPF), Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), and Protocol Independent Multicast (PIM), as well as a connectivity specialist and deployment advisor for Moonv6, the world�s largest permanently deployed multivendor IPv6 network. Passionate about innovation, Timothy has taken the lead on developing SIPv6 and IMS IPv6 Ready Logos for the IPv6 Forum�s IPv6 Ready Logo Program. In addition, he assisted with the IPv6 description for SIPConnect 1.1 and has co-authored multiple white papers and test suites at the UNH-IOL. Timothy holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of New Hampshire, Durham.

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