Research and Education at Qosmotec


The seal of quality for innovative research

Germany has a fairly good reputation as research location and is famous for its dual education system that combines practical apprenticeships with vocational training. For both areas, Qosmotec is a good example, how research and education are integrated into a company’s workaday life.

There are about 3.5 million enterprises in Germany, but less than one percent of them participate actively in research activities. This figure has been found out by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. Qosmotec belongs to this small group and was recently awarded the seal of quality “Innovative through Research” for their contribution to industrial research activities. It is actually surprising that the portion is so small compared to Germany’s standing in the world. “Apart from Chemistry, Pharmacy and Medicine Technology, most research is done at universities and only leaves them, when scientists and academics found spin-offs, because they believe, that they can commercialize their results”, says Qosmotec’s Managing Director Mark Hakim.


The German Ministry of Economics encourages research cooperations of small and medium sized enterprises with universities with public fundings

Research co-operations to improve Qosmotec’s test systems

Qosmotec has gone a completely different way. “We are not an academic spin-off. Our complete management team already had years of experience in other companies, before we started Qosmotec in 2004”. It became soon obvious, how much more could be achieved, if research results and promising ideas would drive the development, rather than just reacting to customer demands. We got in touch with the institute for theoretical information technology at RWTH Aachen University, who do research on signal propagation models. “This was a fantastic add-on to our signal propagation emulator QPER. We found a way to make good use of their research results and integrate them into our simulation software”, explains Mark Hakim the co-operation. In the end  it turned out to be a perfect synergy as Qosmotec could took over the part of the practical implementation of research results. For these activities we could make use of public funds that support those kind of co-operations several times. “The number of enterprises, who would like to do some co-operations of this kind is much higher than those, who actively do them. The reason for this is, that research seems too much theoretical on the first glance and people either do not know how or are afraid of the effort to use them practically”.

Dual education guarantees well trained employees and brings input for new products


Apprentices at Qosmotec are trained on the job and study for a BSc degree in parallel to their work

The tasks that Qosmotec deals with are also challenging enough for writing a bachelor or master thesis. Therefore, Qosmotec is able to offer very attractive apprenticeships for A-level degree students that cannot be found so often in Germany: Our young employees, who become Mathematisch technische Software Entwickler, are educated as application programming engineers by Qosmotec and study in parallel Scientific Programming at the University of Applied Science in Aachen. After three years, they write their Bachelor Thesis in Qosmotec. “We always find a subject which also pushes our test systems”, guarantees Mark Hakim. For example, the test automation app Qosdroid which is now an important application within the LTS platform, has originally been initiated by a such a student project. Since 2008 we have been qualifying six students through an apprenticeship. By now, all of them have become regular employees at Qosmotec. But it is also possible to continue studying in an additional master degree program – for example becoming a master in software engineering.

Next week, in the last article of our jubilee-series, we present a current new research activity in Qosmotec: The development of a signal strength emulator for the upcoming Car-2-Car Communication. This activity combines both aspects mentioned above: It is another research project where the Technical University is involved and it offered enough possibilities for student projects and bachelor thesis’s.

Lab Testing Without Owning a Test Network

Box-rechteckNowadays, many services are based on wireless networks, where the service provider is not owner or operator of the mobile network. The most popular examples are Virtual Network Enablers and Operators. They offer very attractive subscription models for usage in specific foreign countries and other value added services. Their testing process is typically very difficult, because they need to verify their services in various networks. It gets really tedious, when the tests have to involve international roaming from one country to another. Exactly for these purposes, Qosmotec has invented the Network in a Box – a combination of a freely configurable mobile network (consisting of core and radio network part) and a handover emulator.

Freely configurable radio part

The radio part of the mobile network emulator consists of signal generators specifically for GSM 900/1800, UMTS Band I and LTE Band 7 (2600 MHz). Each signal generator can be configured with all relevant cell parameters like Mobile Country Code (MCC), Mobile Network Code (MNC), Location Area Code (LAC), Cell Id and Frequency (ARFCN) and then creates a correctly modulated signal that is detected by any mobile phone. “With two, three or four cells, you can simulate the local situation in any country, emulating various network operators or in a border region, emulating networks in different countries”, explains Qosmotec’s Managing Director Dr. Dieter Kreuer, who has developed the concept of configurable mobile network for test laboratories. Configuration time for switching a cell to a completely new configuration is 15 – 20 seconds. “Most probably the quickest way to get a bit of vacation feeling, when you see the name of a caribean mobile network operator on your phone”, says Dr. Kreuer with a smile on his face.


The Home Location Register (HLR)

Your mobile phone recognizes the emulated cell in the network search. To be able to register to the emulated network, the SIM card must be added to the Home Location Register (HLR) that belongs to the emulated core part. During network search, the phone sends its IMSI number which can be added to the HLR. Thus, an administrator can maintain the test network and make sure, that no uncontrolled registrations occur.

Test with all functions and services of a public mobile network

Once registered, the mobile phone can use all  services of a normal mobile network. Above all, testers can influence on the mobile network behavior and therefore act like a real mobile network operator. He can establish network generated calls, can let the mobile network send SMS messages or influence the quality of a data transmission by setting packet delays or packet losses separately on the uplink and on the downlink. And he can freely configure USSD services – from simple subscriber requests up to complex interactions between subscriber and operator. “For virtual network operators, this is the most important test functionality, because most of their value added services on SIM cards are based on textual communication with the network”, says Dr. Kreuer.

Handover emulation and mobility simulation enable international roaming tests


The QPER software displays in which cell a mobile device is registered and which services are in use

The combination with Qosmotec’s field strength emulator QPER, that emulates the subscriber’s mobility in the wireless network, makes the network emulator now a real mobile network in a box.. The neighborhood of cells can be set as a part of the cell configuration,. Dr. Kreuer knows, what this is good for: “If two cells are linked together as neighbours, a handover between them is possible, while otherwise the network connection would be completely interrupted, when the mobile changes the cell”. With this capability, the emulated cells can supply input for a handover matrix consisting of digitally controllable attenuators, and the mobile phones on the other side of the matrix can see several cells with user controllable strength and move between cells or roam between countries.

QPER Test Bed + LTE

The schematic setup for the emulated network: the radio part is available for all technologies from 2G to 4G

The control of the complete emulated mobile network is smoothly integrated into the QPER virtual drive test software. Having preconfigured the cell parameters, they are set on the signal generators by simple drag & drop actions and it is clearly visible, when they are activated. Users can see, which mobiles attempt to register to the network, when they have been successful and what type of link they have (circuit switched or packet switched; GPRS, EDGE, 3G HSPA or LTE data transmission).

Having such a flexibly configurable mobile network in your lab always makes sense, when testing interoperability of services that have to work in other countries. Typical application cases are

  • Multi-IMSI applications, where a mobile shall follow a dedicated price plan in foreign countries, that is identified by the used IMSI number,
  • Toll Collection, that has to begin and end at the country’s border
  • Intelligent Transport Services applications that go via 3G and 4G, where the driver shall be able to rely on internationally.



Qosmotec rewarded for research activities


Qosmotec has been awarded the seal of quality „Innovative through Research” by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, a business community initiative promoting science and education. The Stifterverband honors companies that do active research as part of their business with this seal of quality . “In Germany there are 3.5 million enterprises, but only less than one percent participates in research – an extremely important group. Because only those who research are able to discover something new and create innovation and growth”, says the association on its webpage.

Qosmotec belongs to this small percentage. “We benefit from our close relationships to the University of Technology and the Academy of Applied Science in Aachen”, says Qosmotec’s Managing Director Mark Hakim. The current big research project that we are working on in co-operation with the chair for theoretical information technology is about developing radio propagation models for the Car-to-Car communication technology and applying them on our signal strength emulator QPER. This research project runs over one year and is funded by the German ministry of economics. “These kind of big projects, that we have done in a similar way in the past for other development areas, are of course highlights of our research activities. But apart from that, we offer regularly bachelor as well master theses to our apprentices and students”, explains Mark Hakim, how Qosmotec contributes to the education of young academics.

The seal of quality “Innovative through research” is valid for two years. More information can be found at