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Rollout: Fluke Networks' NetTool Series II Pro

The Upshot

Fluke Networks NetTool Series II Pro provides an easy-to-use method of gathering nearly all the key measurements and parameters from your VoIP installation. Its low cost provides a great value for the roving VoIP technician.
Analyzing packet loss, jitter and other problems in large VoIP installations typically involves cumbersome, expensive equipment that's better suited to an engineer than to a technician in the field.
Fluke's NetTool Series II Pro follows in the footsteps of many of its previous useful handhelds. Though the device is best suited to Cisco CallManager implementations, it admirably handled devices using the SCCP (Skinny), H.323 and SIP protocols. The NetTool adequately meets the technician's needs without breaking the department's equipment budget.

Fluke Networks NetTool Series II Pro

Fluke Networks' Handheld NetTool Series II Pro testing device is small enough to fit into a computer bag, simple to use and provides nearly all the key VoIP network parameters necessary to troubleshoot problems. Technicians who need quick answers and want to avoid using a $25,000 analyzer will find significant features here, such as gigabit support, port pinging, inline PoE (Power over Ethernet) current measurement, tone detection and a robust protective case.

The $2,995 NetTool supports any VoIP implementation, but works best with a Cisco Systems CallManager installation. By placing the tool inline with the phone, the network technician can see all the essential steps the phone makes when it comes online, registers with CallManager and starts or terminates a call. It takes minutes to gather this information, and just seconds more to create a report and transfer it to a PC. Doing the same thing with a full-featured analyzer, such as Agilent Technologies' Network Advisor or Fluke's OptiView Protocol Expert, typically take much longer and involves using several screens.

Valuable Find

Although Fluke markets the tester as an all-purpose device, NetTool was clearly designed to excel in an all-Cisco environment. This is one of the device's key flaws, and one that other Fluke handheld tools have exhibited. Still, NetTool detected the key devices in our setup and correctly measured packet loss, jitter and the number of transmitted frames in each of our three test environments.

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