5G applications continue to grow, with a big part of that coming from IoT and connected devices. Market penetration in sectors such as automotive, entertainment, medical, construction, and security is also increasingly creating demand for 5G testing equipment, according to a Grand View Research Inc. report.
In addition, several sectors including chipset manufacturers, device manufacturers, and network operators require an array of 5G testing solutions to test and validate the design and power needs of the 5G components, said the market research firm. 5G testing equipment includes oscilloscopes, signal and spectrum analyzers, vector signal generators, and network analyzers.
Here is a sampling of recently introduced test equipment, aimed at 5G applications.
Anritsu Company: ME7803NR RF regulatory test system
In February 2021, Anritsu introduced its ME7803NR RF regulatory test system for regulatory compliance testing of 5G systems. Integrating the MT8000A radio communication test station with other hardware and dedicated software, the ME7803NR is a single solution for performing ARIB-/ETSI-/FCC-compliant frequency range (FR) 1 RF tests on 5G New Radio (NR) user equipment (UE).
The ME7803NR supports certified North American, European, and Asian bands. It also supports emerging regional bands planned for deployment, including 5G NR bands and 5G non-standalone–mode LTE bands used as LTE anchors.
At the heart of the test system is the MT8000A, which simulates a 5G NR base station. The system also integrates the MT8821C radio communication analyzer, operating as an LTE anchor, as well as a combination of the MS2840A/MS2850A spectrum analyzers/signal analyzers, an MG3710E vector signal generator, and an MG3694C signal generator.
The ME7803NR supports all major FR1 RF regulatory compliance tests of 5G NR UE. In addition, SAR/OTA/EMC tests can be conducted using the MT8000A and MT8821C. It also features a built-in calibration function that seamlessly changes the connection configuration for improved measurement stability and measured value reliability.
Keysight Technologies: N9042B UXA X-Series signal analyzer solution
Keysight Technologies, Inc. recently introduced the Keysight N9042B UXA X-Series signal analyzer solution, which enables customers to test the performance of millimeter wave (mmWave) in 5G, aerospace and defense, and satellite communications. The signal analyzer provides wide analysis bandwidth and deep dynamic range to help solve mmWave challenges, including tight design margins and timelines, complex modulation, and stringent standards, said Keysight.
To ensure that designs meet the latest standards with ready-to-use measurement applications for cellular communication, wireless connectivity, and aerospace and defense, the integrated PathWave X-Series measurement applications with the UXA X-Series signal analyzer simplifies complex tasks and delivers repeatable results, said Keysight. The test solution also includes the 89600 PathWave vector signal analysis software, a set of tools for demodulation and vector signal analysis that supports more than 75 signal standards and modulation types.
For cellular communications, testing 5G components and devices per the 3GPP 5G NR standard Releases 15 and 16 requires a solution with higher accuracy, sensitivity, and bandwidth capability, said Keysight. The N9042B signal analyzer tests the performance of transmitter designs with error vector magnitude and 5G NR signal analysis software, which performs transmitter downlink and uplink measurements with one button.
Testing satellite communication systems requires a sophisticated approach to wideband component characterization, which requires characterization of amplifiers and components at bandwidths wider than the target application, said Keysight. The N9042B UXA X-Series signal analyzer provides a wide analysis bandwidth and unbanded, preselected frequency range to help characterize the performance of satellite designs.
Keysight’s N9042B UXA X-Series signal analyzer solution (Source: Keysight Technologies Inc.)
The N9042B UXA X-Series signal analyzer solution can be paired with the V3050A signal analyzer frequency extender, RCal receiver calibrator, and VXG microwave signal generator to help improve measurement accuracy.
The V3050A signal analyzer frequency extender delivers high measurement accuracy of wideband signals at very high frequencies with high sensitivity, unbanded and preselected frequency coverage up to 110 GHz, high dynamic range, and a seamless interface to the N9042B UXA signal analyzer.
The RCal receiver calibrator corrects system path losses and frequency responses up to 5 GHz of bandwidth without the need for an external vector network analyzer, cabling, and manual test-plane characterization. The palm-sized RCal transfers precision factory calibration data to the Keysight X-Series signal analyzer over a USB connection. The companion VXG microwave signal generator offers high output power with ultra-low phase noise and wide bandwidth for wireless, as well as aerospace and defense applications. The VXG’s dual-channel architecture, can quickly switch from blocker and interferer tests to dual-channel MIMO and beamforming tests.
LitePoint: IQgig-5G test system
LitePoint, a Teradyne Company, offers the IQgig-5G test system for 5G small-cell base stations, which are increasingly being used in indoor residential and office environments as well as high-density areas. The 5G test system performs small-cell waveform generation and analysis for mmWave (5G FR2) radio technologies. The tester provides an intuitive graphical user interface and allows for real-time RF parametric analysis for small-cell products.
The mmWave 5G test system can be deployed in either a development lab or production floor, allowing manufacturers to perform transmit and receive measurements. 5G options include 5G small cell, 5G 3GPP NR (Release 15), and V5GTF (pre-5G).
The IQgig-5G is a fully integrated mmWave non-signaling test solution, claimed as the first of its kind to support all 5G FR2 frequencies within a 23-GHz to 45-GHz range. All signal generation, analysis, processing, and RF front-end switching is integrated in a single chassis, which makes it simple to set up, use, and maintain, said the company.
The tester provides all-in-one support for RF calibration, antenna measurements, beamforming characterization, and beam verification. It provides multiple bidirectional source and measurement ports, enabling multi-DUT testing and simultaneous verification of transmit and receive paths. Advanced software application supports functions such as chamber calibration and control, data collection, analysis, and antenna pattern measurements.
Rohde & Schwarz: CMPQ test platform
At the Mobile World Congress 2021 in June, Rohde & Schwarz (R&S) highlighted test solutions for “5G reality & evolution.” One of the featured products was the CMPQ test platform for mmWave testing. The R&S CMPQ consists of an R&S CMP200 radio communication tester, R&S CMPHEAD30 mmWave remote radio heads, and an R&S CMQ200 shielding cube.
The platform integrates all system components, including antennas, cables, feedthroughs, and power sensors, to ensure optimal and stable system parameters for reliable and reproducible FR2 production tests, said the company. Manufacturers can configure the individual components and the overall system independently to create custom solutions for FR2 testing.
The company announced plans to introduce its new R&S CMP180 radio communication test platform in late 2021. The wireless device R&D and production test platform is designed to manage multiple parallel signals for both multiple devices and MIMO transmission methods, providing maximum measurement speed at frequencies up to 8 GHz. The analyzer/generator single-box tester covers wireless standards including Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi 7, and 5G NR at FR1 frequencies, plus a range of legacy technologies.
With the R&S CMP180, the company expands its single-box tester portfolio to include frequency ranges up to 8 GHz, supporting all anticipated wideband signals up to 500 MHz. Two independent RF channels and 16 RF ports support multiple parallel device tests, MIMO transmission methods, and technologies.
Rohde & Schwarz: SMM100A vector signal generator
In January 2021, R&S introduced the SMM100A vector signal generator for generating digital signals for advanced wireless communication devices entering production as well as for developing future products and technologies. Claimed as the only vector signal generator with mmWave testing capabilities in its class, the test system allows users to test the whole frequency range for both 5G NR FR1 and FR2 frequencies. It is said to Display excellent RF characteristics across the entire frequency range from 100 kHz to 44 GHz.
The SMM100A covers all the bands used by any wireless standards, including LTE and 5G NR, as well as the latest WLAN standards Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E (up to 7.125 GHz). It also covers wireless personal area networks such as Bluetooth.
The instrument’s maximum RF modulation bandwidth of 1 GHz meets requirements to generate the broadband signals used by devices making full use of the most demanding wireless standard specifications, including IEEE 802.15.4z Ultra-Wideband (HRP-UWB), said the company. In addition, it offers a maximum output power of 18 dBm, which reduces the need for external amplifiers.
The R&S SMM100A comes with six maximum frequency options from 6 GHz to 44 GHz, and four modulation bandwidth options from 120 MHz to 1 GHz, to meet all major device band requirements. Users can upgrade their instrument’s capabilities according to their need anytime by entering a key code.
Rohde & Schwarz’s R&S SMM100A (Source: Rohde & Schwarz)
Viavi Solutions: TMLite network tester
Viavi Solutions Inc. recently released TMLite, a streamlined version of its flagship TM500 Network Tester, which is a scalable test system for validating network performance. The new version delivers features, software environment, and user experience consistent with the TM500 on a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) server for early functional network testing. This enables users to deploy focused functional test tools earlier in the development cycle and allows smaller vendors to gain access to the TM500 family in a compact package, said the company.
To maximize 5G coverage, service providers will need to densify their networks, increasing the diversity of radio types and suppliers, said Viavi. “Smaller-scale manufacturers may not require the large number of carriers and high-capacity testing typical in traditional base station validation, but they still need early access to 3GPP features, as well as network parameters used by other manufacturers to confirm interoperability.”
TMLite enables functional, system, and performance testing for the latest 5G SA features, including FR1, FR2, FDD, TDD, and up to 4 × 4 MIMO, and it delivers the RF, baseband, and higher-layer processing for one 5G NR carrier — on a single COTS server. With TM500 family application programming interfaces optimized for automation environments, TMLite tests can be compared with TM500 insights for efficient parallel testing and product development.
In addition to the original network tester and TMLite, the TM500 family includes an O-RU Tester and an O-DU Tester.