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Measuring the Pulse of the RF Test Equipment Market

November 15, 2011
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MWJ: Tell us about Wireless Telecom Group and the markets you serve?

JD: Wireless Telecom Group is a global designer and manufacturer of radio frequency and microwave-based products for wireless and advanced communications industries. We market our products and services worldwide under the Boonton Electronics, Microlab/FXR and Noisecom brands. Our Brands and products have maintained a reputation for their accuracy and performance as they support our customers’ technological advancements within communications. We offer our customers a complementary suite of high performance instruments and components meeting a variety of standards including peak power meters, signal analyzers, noise sources, power splitters, combiners, diplexers, noise modules and precision noise generators. We serve commercial and government markets within the satellite, cable, radar, avionics, medical, and computing applications. We are headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey, in the New York City metropolitan area and we maintain a global network of Sales offices dedicated to providing excellent product support.

MWJ: So what's the focus of the individual subsidiaries?

JD: Noisecom is a global provider of electronic noise generation equipment and noise sources in the commercial and military telecommunications fields. Utilized for accurate, reliable measurements, users look to Noisecom for specialized assistance with their equipment design.

Boonton Electronics, a wholly owned subsidiary, is a leader in the manufacture of test equipment dedicated to measuring the power of RF and Microwave systems used in multiple telecommunication markets. A pioneer in the industry, Boonton continues to provide high quality and high value instruments for users backed with outstanding customer support.

Microlab, a wholly owned subsidiary, is a global provider of RF microwave components and solutions including signal combiners, couplers, duplexers, diplexers, splitters, directional couplers and filters. The Microlab divison provides RF/Microwave and wireless broadband solutions to the telecom industry, including carriers, OEMs and systems integrators. Microlab’s expertise and product set continue to grow in the wireless in-building and distributed antenna systems(DAS) markets. These products are employed as system components in commercial applications such as wireless base stations for cellular, paging and private communications, in-building wireless signal distribution, television transmitters and aircraft navigation landing systems.

MWJ: What are some of the products that these groups offer?

JD: Our Boonton business unit offers a wide variety of peak and average power meters, signal analyzers and other high-performance RF testing equipment. These products include:RF Power Meters, RF Sensors, RF Volt Meters, Modulation and Audio Analyzers, Capacitance Meters and PIM Testers.

Our Noisecom business unit provides standard and customized noise generating instruments and sources. These products include: RF, Analog and Jitter Noise Sources, CNG-EBNo Noise Generator and various Noise Components.

Our Microlab unit offers a broad range of wireless broadband components and solutions, including: signal combiners, couplers, duplexers, diplexers, splitters, tappers, dividers, attenuators,, teminations and others RF compennts. Microlab products are well-known for their low PIM capabilities.

MWJ: What trends do you see in RF measurements these days and how versed in measurement techniques are today's test engineers?

JD: The industries supported by RF technologies( including, mobile/cell, wireless/networks, broadband, radar, satelitte, cable, etc), are all experiencing significant growth and demand for technical innovation. RF components and infrastructure need to support video, data, broadband traffic from increasing use of smartphone and mobile devices. The use of digital technologies in the RF/Microwave area is accelerating as well. Similarly, the high-end radar and amplifier industries are enhancing the quality and fidelity of their equipment.

In order to support these trends, RF testing and measurement techniques must be improved . These improvements include: the move toward pulsed/peak power measurement , the combination of RF and digital technologies(Jitter) and CCDF.

RF engineers are working hard to make these improvements while managing lean technical team s and tight budgets. They are making use of online resources(youtube, webinars, social networking) to keep pace and stay abreast of these new requirements.

MWJ: What is the role of the test equipment supplier in supporting the engineer in the test lab with regard to their knowledge of making accurate measurements?

JD: Due to reduced test department size and greater test complexity equipment suppliers are being asked to provide a total solution, rather than single instruments that need to be integrated into larger test systems. This requires a deep understanding of the customer application and more diverse equipment. WTG examples thatsupport themovement toward solutions are: Amplifier Test Bench software solution, power meters capable of both peak and average power measurement and the J7000 noise generator which is designed for the PCI-SIG total jitter (Tj) model serial data application, and can be used for any random jitter noise application.

MWJ: Is there still a lot of obsolete test equipment being used in the field these days?

JD: Yes. Due to the recent recession, test engineers are “doing more with less” and if the existing equipment is functional it is very difficult to defend new purchases to their management. This is why WTG provides complementary solutions that allow RF test engineers to expand and extend the use of existing test equipment . We also continue to provide high quality, lower cost test solutions than the competition.

MWJ: What are the most compelling reasons to modernize test equipment?

JD: Market and customer requirements based on the industry trends mentioned above, will cause many organizations to justify new equipment purchases. Examples include: government customers requiring peak/pulse radar testing, carrier and OEM customers upgrading LTE infrastructure and semi-conductor customers requiring RF/digital component testing to minimize noise interference in computer chip technology.

MWJ: Have Test & Measurement sales improved within the last six months?

JD: Yes, we have seen an increase in capital equipment purchases and a general interest in upgrading older test systems to prepare for new products in support of the trends outlined above. The interest has come from both the government and commercial markets.

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