Established in 1993 to test devices on Australia’s first digital mobile network, Telstra’s top-secret testing labs are the one place where every device they sell will go to check it and test it before it goes on sale to the public.
Inside the secret facility in Sydney’s west Telstra’s smartest engineers spend hours and days testing devices – performing a staggering 8,713 unique tests on every single device.
Right now, they’re testing the brand new Samsung Galaxy S8 – in fact they have been for many months.
That timeframe is part of the reason the facility is so secretive – they have devices on-site before they are even announced to the public.
Today I watched as engineers tested the reception levels of the Galaxy S8 in their “Blue Tick” room – a space within the facility that from the outside resembles nothing more than a coolroom – but on the inside special foam needles create an anechoic chamber where no signal can bounce around and the tests can be conducted device after device with accuracy.
Out in the field engineers conduct real-world tests to determine the range and reception requirements for a device, and it’s these figures that inform what measures the devices must pass in the labs to get the regional blue tick from Telstra – indicating an excellent regional coverage is possible for the device.
In the last financial year, the lab staff tested more than 60 new mobile devices, and some 200 software updates in these labs – totaling around 72,000 man-hours of testing. If one person did all that work, it would take 9,072 working days.
Because of the high-speed capability of devices like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, Telstra are also testing the performance of the wireless signal for speed and sensitivity – again, a staggering 1,864 hours of testing was conducted on these devices with the results of the “Blue Tick” test due out next week.
If it passes, the Galaxy S8 would be the first device to get a Blue Tick for its 4G capability, something both Samsung and Telstra will be keen to promote to regional customers.
Test facilities like this are not just to check the speed of new phones or the coverage potential of a device. Quite often Telstra’s network partner Ericsson will release new software for the mobile towers – those towers can’t just be upgraded like your home PC. In these labs a test network can be upgraded and checked to ensure the performance meets Telstra’s exacting standards.
Every day this testing is going on, and we know nothing about it. Simple stuff, in a top-secret location. Very cool.