Test trends at MWCA were dominated by 5G

It was a busy week for test companies at Mobile World Congress Americas, and while one subject — 5G testing — dominated the demos, it wasn’t the only area of focus.

The three big test trends from MWCA were:

5G, 5G, 5G. The next generation of wireless technologies is in full swing, and most of the test news out of the show revolved around 5G, whether in terms of device testing, field testing or other aspects.

Keysight Technologies’ 5G network emulation is supporting Motorola Mobility’s development of early 5G New Radio chipsets and devices. Rohde & Schwarz is also focused on device development, highlithing its CMW100 tester for mass production of sub-6 GHz 5G NR devices and launching its CMWflexx multi-box platform that supports up to eight-channel carrier aggregation, License Assisted Access and 4×4 or 8×4 multiple-input multiple-output for protocol, radio frequency and data performance testing; R&S said it was also recently involved in the first transmission of Release 14-based 5G Broadcast.  Anritsu unveiled its new Radio Communications Test System MT8000A during the show, an all-in-one offering for testing both sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave bands that can be combined with an over-the-air test chamber for RF and beamforming measurements. Meanwhile, Prisma Telecom Testing emphasized its work in both lab and field testing for 5G NR RAN, and PCTel officially launched its new HBflex scanning receiver that conducts 5G NR measurements at both mmWave and sub-6 GHz. PCTel added that 5G NR testing is also available on its IBflex scanning receiver for sub-6 GHz bands.

“5G networks will include a wide array of new bands and new technologies in a more complex RF environment,” said David Neumann, the company’s CEO, in a statement. “PCTEL scanning receivers provide the accuracy, insight, and flexibility that operators will need to successfully manage their 5G networks and enable new use cases such as smart cities, fixed wireless access, and advanced IoT deployments.”

IoT. Speaking of IoT, that was another area of test focus — and along with companies like Anritsu highlighting their capabilities in testing Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular for IoT at MWCA, semiconductor and module company ublox announced a new rapid prototyping and testing tool for checking location accuracy and power consumption of new devices and applications that utilize LTE-M or NB-IoT. Frost & Sullivan said this week that the emergence of the industrial IoT is driving test equipment vendors to shift their business models toward new, IoT-focused testing services. Along those lines, Spirent this week announced that it is approved as a test lab for CTIA’s new IoT cyber security certification program that will start in October.

“[Electronic test equipment] vendors are not only rolling out next-generation measurement and instrumentation equipment but are also adopting novel business models,” said Sambaran Das, senior research analyst for measurement and instrumentation at Frost, in a statement. “Software-as-a-Service-based models, in particular, are likely to gain traction as [aerospace and defense]customers across applications automate their processes. It can prove to be a highly significant value addition delivered by hardware vendors selling software.”

CBRS. The Citizens Broadband Radio Service continues to move toward commercialization, with a number of infrastructure and partnership announcements from the show — but there was also some related testing news. AT&T said it will soon begin testing CBRS-ready equipment, having selected Samsung as its equipment provider and CommScope as its Spectrum Access System provider.

“We plan to start testing CBRS equipment in our labs early next year and plan to rollout commercial CBRS technology in U.S. cities beginning in late 2019,” AT&T said. “As part of the rollout, we will start by using LTE in CBRS Spectrum and then migrate to 5G. We will primarily use the CBRS solution to deliver home and enterprise broadband services.”

On the show floor, Anritsu conducted CBRS testing on a Sierra Wireless AirPrime EM75 Series LTE-Advanced Pro cellular module, using Anritsu’s Radio Communications Analyzer MT8821C. That testing included radio frequency parametric and throughput testing at 3.5 GHz with three-channel carrier aggregation and 2×2 multiple-input multiple-output.

Dell’Oro Group put out numbers this week estimating that CBRS Radio Access Network investments will “grow at a rapid pace between 2018 and 2022 with total RAN investments approaching $1 Billion and CBRS RAN shipments to eclipse half a million units.” More than 20 vendors are working to launch commercial CBRS RAN solutions, Dell’Oro said, and the technology is anticipated to take a double-digit share of the distributed antenna system market.

“While there is some concern that the mid-band spectrum policies in the U.S. could impact the magnitude and pace of the 5G NR outdoor deployments and as a result enable other countries to take the lead in the 4G to 5G transition, the irony is that the U.S. is currently one of the few countries that is seeking to change the ownership model and the status quo about how networks are built,” said Stefan Pongratz, senior director with Dell’Oro Group, in a statement. “And more importantly, our conversations with both suppliers and end users suggest that the new ownership model and reduced barriers-to-entry in the CBRS band is already fostering innovation and opening up new opportunities and use cases for a wide range of participants.”

In other test news:

Global Wireless Solutions and P3 released the results of their latest testing this week — GWS conducted what it said was its most comprehensive testing ever, while P3 highlighted the peak and average experienced speeds that users get on different networks. Read the full stories here and here.

Empirix is partnering with New Jersey-based service provider MetTel on end-to-end visibility for the operator’s cloud network. MetTel is expanding its user of cloud and virtualization, Empirix said, and has deployed Empirix’s E-XMS virtualized offering for service assurance and automation into its network for its voice-over-IP service.

National Technical Systems has a new general manager at its Longmont, Colorado lab. Michael Graham, who has 30 years of experience in the Air Force and held the rank of colonel, and has worked in the defense industry for the past nine years, will take on that role at the lab, which specializes in electromagnetic compatibility, dynamics and environmental testing.




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