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Industry News

3GSM World Congress:Modernism at Its Best

April 7, 2006
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The 2006 3GSM World Congress could well have found a soul mate in its new home of Barcelona, where Modernisme — the movement that evoked change and development — emerged in the 19th century. Fittingly, it was that very 21st century phenomenon, communications technology that grabbed the headlines at the Fira de Barcelona conference and exhibition centre during the four-day event in February. The general consensus was that the event feted as ‘the biggest mobile show on Earth’ lived up to its billing. In fact, Barcelona’s famous artistic sons, Picasso and Gaudi are likely to have approved of a great deal of the innovation and design on display.

Good Communication

Visitors may not have been readily conversant with the local Catalan and Castilian languages but communication in the common language of technological innovation was not a problem as the global mobile industry convened to network, exchange ideas and do business. The conference attracted high level keynote speakers who addressed the issues of today and tomorrow, including: the convergence of telecoms, media and entertainment; billing; the evolution of value-added services; strategies for growth in developing markets; and the evolution of 3G.

All of these themes were also reflected in the exhibition with all of the main players in the market making their presence felt with new launches and promotions. The result was record figures with a total audited attendance of 50,000 visitors (including all visitors, delegates, participants and staff) attracted to the site which provided double the floor space than in Cannes in 2005, accommodating a total of 962 companies — a 40 percent increase over last year. In today’s environment of fast technology change and increasing end-user expectations, 2006 shows all the signs of being a decisive year for new multimedia services and growing markets. This is a challenge that companies exhibiting at the 3GSM World Congress seemed more than happy to embrace and meet head on, targeting the event to make numerous product announcements.

New Innovations

Particularly active in the microwave and RF arena were the test and measurement, semiconductor and chipset manufacturers. Read on for a selection of the major new product announcements from some of the leaders in our industry. Apologies to those companies that have not been mentioned due to space constraints.

Familiar names to Microwave Journal readers dominated the test and measurement sector, demonstrating their diversity as well as new products. For instance, a wealth of new products and initiatives were announced by Agilent Technologies that underline the company’s commitment to the wireless communications market. Of particular interest was the announcement that the N4010A Wireless Connectivity Test Set supports the Bluetooth Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) test mode and offers new audio generation and analysis capabilities for Bluetooth audio test. Developers, integrators and manufacturers now have a single test set for ensuring devices adhere to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s (SIG) version 1.2 and 2.0 standards. Also, to ensure adherence to the new standard, the N4010A now enables loopback testing of EDR transmitters and receivers. Six of the eight Bluetooth 2.0 EDR test cases are integrated into the test set and the remaining two can be made utilizing the N4010A and additional equipment.

Another significant introduction is the release of the GS-8800 RF, the first commercially available pre-conformance test system that supports High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) test cases (3GPP TS 34.121). The test system enables cellular phone design engineers to perform early RF design verification to meet a wide range of development needs. In addition to HSDPA, it supports other cellular technologies, such as W-CDMA, GSM/GPRS, EGPRS, cdmaOne/CDMA2000 and 1xEV-DO.

These are just two products of note but Agilent also announced: new initiatives for WiMAX design and deployment and exhibited an extensive WiMAX product portfolio; a new IP UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network (IP UTRAN) signaling analyzer; the first commercially available base station test system compliant with the latest Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) standards; new lab application features for the 8960 Wireless Test Set that provide real-life network emulation for GSM/GPRS and W-CDMA/HSDPA; a new Wireless Quality of Service Management solution; and collaboration with Freescale Semiconductor to create a test solution that can be used to efficiently test chipset platforms to the standards set by the ZigBee Alliance.

3GSM is also a major event for Rohde & Schwarz as witnessed by the plethora of new products launched and on display. The first to highlight is the expanded functionality of the R&S FSH3 handheld spectrum analyzer, with the introduction of the R&S FSH-K4 option, which adds the capability to perform code domain power measurements on 3GPP base stations. Test parameters include the overall power as well as the powers of the main code channels such as the Common Pilot Channel (CPICH), the Primary Common Control Physical Channel (P-CCPCH), the Primary Synchronization Channel (P-SCH) and the Secondary Synchronization Channel (S-SCH). The carrier frequency offset and the error vector magnitude are also measured and displayed. The option also includes an automatic level control function that allows users to quickly set the optimal reference level. For base stations equipped with two antennas, users can choose the antenna to which the spectrum analyzer is to synchronize (antenna diversity).

A second key announcement is that the company is now providing an option for Bluetooth V2.0 + EDR that complements the R&S CBT and the R&S CBT32. Fitted with the EDR option, these RF testers enable all measurements — with the exception of EDR C/I performance — to be performed without any external equipment or PCs. Significantly, with regard to EDR receiver tests, the option supports the loopback test mode in accordance with the specification. Like the basic versions, the R&S CBT and the R&S CBT32 with EDR option feature high measurement speed. Lab tasks can thus be handled quickly, reducing test times and costs in production.

Other announcements of note include: an all-in-one measurement solution for WiMAX applications — by combining the R&S SMU200A vector signal generator and R&S FSQ signal analyzer, the company offers a future-proof measurement solution for WiMAX applications; and the introduction of the R&S CMU-K72 HSDPA monitoring option to the R&S CMU300 universal radio communication tester. With this monitoring option it is possible to analyze the data flow on the high speed shared control channel (HS-SCCH), which enables the tester to simultaneously analyze four HS-SCCHs with up to 128 UEs altogether; similarly the HSDPA functionality of the R&S CMU200 mobile radio tester is enhanced when equipped with the R&S CMU-K64 software option. By using this new firmware upgrade, the tester is now able to set up a call to user equipment of classes up to 3.6 Mbit/s in the in signaling mode as well as the non-signaling mode.

Further testament to the prolific output of the test and measurement manufacturers was Anritsu Corp. who launched and showcased a variety of new products. An important announcement was that the successful MD8470A application tester now has the added functionality of UE-to-UE connectivity testing in one instrument. This ‘network on the bench solution’ allows the user to test the application connectivity of the UE without setting up a live call on the real network. The Couple-UE Network Simulator (CNS) software provides the necessary network simulation to realize voice call, video call and SMS/MMS exchange between two UE, including UEs from different operators.

Also, HSDPA testing capability has been added to the UMTS Master MT8220A analyzer, producing what is claimed to be the first truly portable handheld test instrument that can verify Node B transmitter performance. When equipped with this new HSDPA option, the tester can make all the measurements listed in the 3GPP specification for HSDPA base station performance testing. Field technicians and wireless engineers can quickly check base station performance using any of the three options — RF measurement, demodulation and over the air (OTA). All key RF measurements, including band spectrum, channel spectrum, spectral emission mask and ACLR, can now be made on HSDPA signals. All standard WCDMA demodulation measurements can also be made.

And there was more as the company announced: the introduction of the MD8391A RNC Simulator, a compact, low price Node B test solution (mounted on a 19 inch rack and weighing less than 10 kg, the tester is aimed at infrastructure vendors wishing to efficiently test the Node Bs); the MS8911A DVB-T/H tester, a battery operated handheld tester for DVB-T and DVB-H analysis and the only tester in the market that performs DVB-H measurements; a WCDMA/HSDPA Modulation Quality Measurements option for the MS2781A Signature High Performance Signal Analyzer; and a next generation 3G SGSN Load Generator Test Tool for the market leading MD1230B Ethernet/IP test platform.

Not to be outdone, Aeroflex announced the launch of an Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR) option for the 6113 base station tester to complement the company’s existing GSM and GPRS/EDGE test capability. The AMR option extends the tester’s coverage to enable testing of AMR-specific elements of the base station, in particular those parts that include AMR codecs in the signal path. Its

A-bis control and decode capability allows both the transmitter and receiver paths to be fully tested. Unique receiver tests include bit error rate and frame erasure rate. Significantly, the AMR option also includes a ‘live’ mode that allows testing to be carried out without taking the base station out of service. Two key additional features of the 6113 AMR option include a rate adaptation test and a combined traffic/signaling channel BER test. The rate-adaptation test is not only used for checking that the base station is correctly measuring the carrier to interference ratio (C/I) but also as a tool for optimising the thresholds and hysterisis settings used to trigger rate-adaptation.

Other key announcements were the significant extension to the capability of the 6103 AIME/CT GSM, GPRS, EGPRS mobile terminal protocol test system to include the first Dual Transfer Mode (DTM) test cases, a comprehensive suite of Downlink Advanced Receiver Performance (DARP) test cases, including three that are unique to Aeroflex and the complete suite of 3GPP Release 4 and EGPRS test cases as defined by the Global Certification Forum and PTCRB; and the launch of a handset trace capability for the SystemAT laboratory-based test system, which is used for regression testing new wireless network software and features prior to rollout and handset validation/interoperability testing as well as network load and capacity testing.

Demonstrating that the city of Barcelona had attracted the technological global village, the semiconductor and chipset manufacturers were an illustration of the international pull of the World Congress. For example, from the US, Triquint Semiconductor unveiled products that realise the promise of a truly integrated WCDMA and EDGE RF front end. First was the release of two new smaller form factor WCDMA and EDGE wireless phone receive modules designed to better meet the signal processing needs in next-generation, multi-mode slim-line (cellular) handsets that use both WCDMA and EDGE (WEDGE) networks. The new modules (numbered 890057 and 890060) are tri-band and quad-band, respectively. The 890057 covers the WCDMA-2100 band, plus the GSM 900/1800/1900 bands. The 890060 is ideal for phones requiring the WCDMA-2100 band, plus the GSM 850/900/1800/1900 bands. The modules offer a combination of WCDMA linearity (signal precision) that meets 3GPP out-of-band blocking requirements, low transmission path insertion loss — all in a small size (5.4 × 4.0 mm) with a height profile of 1.1 mm.

Important too is the release of the company’s latest quad-band transmit module, the TQM6M5001 that provides full GSM/EDGE capability. It enables the higher EDGE bandwidth services sought by wireless phone users, and its high level integration allows phone designers to move from the GPRS of GSM service to full EDGE, which affords data rates up to three times faster than GPRS. The new module measures 6 × 6 × 1.1 mm.3 This breakthrough product is an all-in-one RF transmit module with full Gaussian minimum shift keying (GMSK) and EDGE linear functionality, combining a quad-band EDGE PA, a linear transmit/receive switch, plus PA and switch control along with electrostatic discharge protection.

Other new products featured include: three new highly integrated WCDMA modules that reduce the RF front end complexity of 3G phones, each designed to provide key performance enhancements within a multi-band WCDMA handset (cellular (TQM616017), PCS (TQM666017) and IMT2100 (TQM676001)); the p/n 890047, the company’s latest fully optimized WCDMA/GSM quad-band switch module for the RF front end of 3G handsets; and the TQM7M5003 quad-band GSM/EDGE-polar power amplifier module, for use in GSM/EDGE wireless handsets and data cards in the GSM 850/900/1800/1900 bands.

Compatriot company Skyworks made three major announcements. The first, one year on from launching the Helios™ Mini, the company unveiled Helios II, its next-generation EDGE radio. This highly integrated solution reduces the RF board space by condensing all required EDGE RF functionality into two compact devices. The SKY74137 RF transceiver is a highly integrated device for multi-band GSM, GPRS and EDGE applications. The receive path implements a direct down-conversion architecture, consisting of four integrated LNAs, a quadrature demodulator, selectable baseband filter bandwidths and low droop DC offset correction (DCOC) sequencer. The transceiver also implements the company’s polar loop transmit architecture, autonomously splitting the amplitude and phase within the device using traditional analogue in-phase and quadrature (I/Q) signals. Secondly, the SKY77331 PA module (PAM) is designed in a compact form factor with integrated coupler for quad-band GSM, GPRS and EDGE mobile handsets. Features include high efficiency, an integrated coupler, wideband envelope control path, input/output matching and gold-plated lead-free contacts.

Next, two new ultra-compact and high efficiency EDGE front-end modules (FEM) for leading mobile handset suppliers were launched. The SKY77512 transmit FEM is designed in a compact form factor of 8 × 8 × 1.2 mm for quad-band mobile handsets supporting GMSK and linear enhanced data for EDGE modulation. The SKY77519 is a transmit and receive FEM designed in a very low profile compact form factor of 6 × 6 × 1.1 mm for quad-band WEDGE mobile handsets. It is said to be the industry’s smallest module for open-polar EDGE. When combined with the company’s FEMs for closed loop platforms, Skyworks supports all three EDGE architectures — closed loop, open loop and linear implementations.

Finally came the addition of a highly integrated transmit WCDMA FEM supporting HSDPA to the company’s Intera™ portfolio. The SKY77427 is a fully matched, 22-pin surface-mount module that enables customers global support with band I, II and V coverage, which are anticipated to be the dominant frequency bands for 3G handsets. By integrating its next-generation, innovative load insensitive power amplifier (LIPA™), a duplexer, power detector and filters into a single 5 × 8 mm package, the company’s Intera™ FEMs allow mobile handset designers to simplify RF design and reduce board space.

Not to be overshadowed by its transatlantic rivals, Philips highlighted several innovations in mobile, sound entertainment and near field communication. These included the technology foundation to power Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) enabled phones using the Nexperia™ cellular system solution 6120 for UMA, which will be available shortly in the US market from a major operator. The company has collaborated with Kineto Wireless (also an exhibitor at 3GSM) who provides the UMA-compliant handset software stack in the Nexperia cellular system solution. Requiring no additional setup by the consumer, UMA phones switch between cellular networks and WiFi hotspots, automatically detecting the fastest and most cost-effective network and reducing bills dramatically.

Additionally, the company displayed a single-package Bluetooth and FM Radio Solution (BGB260FM), which includes Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR functionality with an FM stereo radio and is said to deliver the smallest PCB area solution on the market today. Aimed at the designers and manufacturers of mobile phones and headsets, the product provides a simple solution offering advanced, yet cost effective, functionality.

The simplicity of near-field communication was demonstrated in an effective and novel way when Philips, together with Samsung and Telefonica Moviles, demonstrated an easy-to-use short-range wireless technology, by providing 200 attendees of the 3GSM World Congress with an NFC-enabled Samsung mobile phone that could be used for payment and access at the event. The company also showcased the next generation TV-on-mobile solution (BGT215) and debuted a new Nexperia™ cellular system solution that gives advanced 3G voice and data coverage across both 2G and 3G networks by integrating support for UMTS, EDGE and Dual Transfer Mode (DTM).

Alongside Philips in the busiest hall (Hall 8) and rubbing shoulders with the big names in the mobile phone market, RF Micro Devices decided to make some big announcements. First was the availability of the RF3159 quad-band power amplifier, specifically designed to support EDGE mobile devices utilizing linear transmit architectures. It will be available for general sampling this month, with mass production ramping in May. It is a high linearity quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE PA designed to support EDGE transceivers utilizing a linear transmit architecture. The RF3159 PA module is fully matched for easy implementation and is housed in a 6 ¥ 6 mm package. It is designed to be the final amplification stage in a dual-mode GSM/GPRS/EDGE mobile transmit line up operating in the 824 to 915 MHz and 1710 to 1910 MHz bands.

The second significant announcement was the availability of a new high efficiency linear PA module — the RF5184. It is specifically designed to be the final RF amplifier in high performance WCDMA wireless handheld devices and is a dual-band product that supports Region 2 (1850 to 1910 MHz) and Region 5/6 (824 to 849 MHz). In conjunction with the RF5198 single-band PA for Region 1 (1920 to 1980 MHz), RFMD is positioned with RF solutions in industry-leading form factors for all three of the current WCDMA markets — Europe, the United States and Japan.

Chipping in with its latest development, Analog Devices Inc. demonstrated its first W-CDMA/EDGE (WEDGE) chipset. Based on the Blackfin® Processor and advanced analogue, mixed-signal and RF technologies, the highly integrated SoftFone® — W chipset comprises the AD6902 (Monza) digital baseband processor, AD6856 Stratos-W analogue baseband/audio/power-management IC and the AD6541/AD6547 Othello® — W radio. The chipset supports the features generally included in mid- to high-end feature phones without requiring an external co-processor. The AD6902 also includes programmable serial ports and a flexible audio subsystem, allowing handset designers to easily support additional features such as FM radio, mobile TV, voice over WiFi and other applications.

Finally, although the Avago Technologies name may have been new to some visitors the products and personnel were familiar, as the company was the result of the acquisition of Agilent Technologies Inc.’s Semiconductor Products Group at the end of 2005. They haven’t wasted time in developing new products announcing two new film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) duplexers for handsets, PC data cards and other wireless products operating in the US PCS and UMTS frequency bands. Both duplexers are housed in the industry’s smallest, ultra-thin packages featuring a height of 1.3 mm, with a 3.8 × 3.8 mm footprint.

These dimensions are achieved through the company’s Microcap bonded-wafer chip scale packaging and enable miniature RF modules with increased functionality to be embedded into other portable consumer appliances. The ACMD-7402 duplexer is optimized for the US PCS band 1850.5 to 1909.5 MHz transmit, 1930.5 to 1989.5 MHz receive, and offers low TX insertion loss and excellent rejection that enhances sensitivity and dynamic range. Similarly, the ACMD-7601 is a high performance duplexer for UMTS Band I frequencies of 1920 to 1980 MHz transmit, 2110 to 2170 MHz receive — the frequency band is the most common version of the W-CDMA standard used in Europe and Asia. The device enhances sensitivity and dynamic range of UMTS receivers while extending handset battery life by minimizing the power amplifier’s current drain.

Also introduced was the ADCC-3000, a one-quarter inch optical format, 1.3 megapixel CMOS image sensor featuring the company’s enhanced-performance (EP) pixel architecture and image-pipe processing technology. The sensor is one of the few 1.3 megapixel sensors that fits easily into the industry’s smallest (8 × 8 × 5 mm) low profile camera modules.

An Event to Savour

So there you have it — the first 3GSM World Congress held in Barcelona and its home for the foreseeable future. Just like Spanish tapas, this report has been a taster of what was on offer and hopefully given a flavour of the wealth of technology and innovation that was on show.

Recent Articles by Richard Mumford, Microwave Journal European Editor

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