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5G advances test equipment for wireless tech

10 Mar 2015  | Olga Shapiro

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Wireless test

5G was already the talk of the town at last year's Mobile World Congress. In 2015, however, the new technology has become more prominent with its nascent application in the Internet of Things (IoT) and streaming video use cases.

Key goals for 5G include improving data bandwidth, decreasing latency in the network and increasing capacity. Massive MIMO, also known as LSAS (large-scale antenna systems), is one of the technologies 5G is bringing with it that is being researched at the moment.

mmWave is another 5G aspect that's gaining a momentum. mmWave offers numerous benefits related to bandwidth extension, as the spectrum below 6GHz is becoming scarce. Wider spectrum can lead to faster data rates. And as 5G is expected to be 100 times faster than 4G comes the need for more spectrum to accommodate wireless data needs and provide a backdrop for the billions of devices expected to be connected to the Internet.

I expect 5G to gain more meaning for operators and test equipment vendors at MWC 2015. Test equipment companies such as Anritsu, National Instruments, Keysight Technologies and Rohde & Schwarz are focused heavily on 5G research. We expect more news to come around massive MIMO and mmWave testing.

National Instruments (NI) for example, was one of the pioneers of 5G technologies and the company recently updated its LabView Communications System Design Suite, which integrates software-defined radio hardware with software for 5G prototyping. The new LabView solution extends the ability for users to solve software-defined radio problems by combining the structured data flow with synchronous data flow.

Rohde & Schwarz, among other test equipment vendors such as Anite, Aeroflex and Keysight Technologies, currently supports research and development efforts to identify potential technologies for implementing 5G mobile radio networks. At MWC 2015, a number of test-equipment makers are expected to demonstrate their latest 5G applications in the millimetre wave range. Rohde & Schwarz, in particular, will demonstrate the test setup that is capable of testing bandwidths up to 2GHz, which is 100 times larger than in current LTE networks.

LTE-A (Long-term evolution-advanced) will likely be another "hot topic" at MWC 2015. This technology continues making inroads into the global communications market. While LTE's peak downlink speed can be 300Mbit/s, LTE-A is theoretically capable of reaching 1Gbit/s. LTE's uplink highest rates are 75Mbit/s where LTE-A is at 500Mbit/s. The number of LTE deployments reached 367 in January 2015 while 49 LTE-A commercial networks were deployed in 31 countries according to 4G Americas. The transition from of LTE to LTE-A is evident around the world.

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