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Industry News

3GSM World Congress 2007: Emerging Triumphant

March 7, 2007
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Emerging services and emerging markets were at the fore as the world's premier mobile event, the 3GSM World Congress 2007, enjoyed a second successful year in its Barcelona venue, with an increase in both the quantity and quality of visitors. Around 53,500 visitors (including all visitors, delegates, participants and staff) from across the globe converged on the Fira de Barcelona Conference and Exhibition Centre for four days in February to do business and discuss the hottest trends.


BUSINESS INITIATIVES

Billed as ‘The place to do business’ the Congress effectively went about its business of providing a dynamic platform for the industry to network and exchange ideas, and encouraging cooperation alongside competition. The event provided a challenging agenda that encompassed cutting edge innovation, the embryonic mobile entertainment market, technology evolution and the fast moving developments of emerging markets that are set to drive the immediate success of the mobile industry.

The conference programme boasted five keynote sessions featuring the leaders from some of the world's largest and most dynamic operators, vendors and content owners. Many of the technologies and trends discussed were showcased and shown in practice at the 3GSM Exhibition, where the number of exhibitors had increased to over 1,300, This global village attracted leading players in all sectors of the industry and featured two new innovations for 2007 — the Mobile Entertainment and Content Zone, which is self-explanatory and the Demonstration Stage, which provided a showcase for the best of new and existing product/services from within the mobile ecosystem.

NEW INNOVATIONS

The market sectors covered by the Congress and Exhibition is vast, varied and diverse, from those wanting to get the ‘max’ from WiMAX or looking for a short term view of Long Term Evolution (LTE). Exhibitors from across the globe and spanning the whole spectrum of the mobile industry targeted the event to make key product announcements. Those 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 limited space.

Familiar names to Microwave Journal readers dominated the test and measurement sector, and this year the subject that everyone seemed keen to address was Long Term Evolution. Put simply, the 3G LTE initiative is intended to provide a framework for the evolution of 3G toward a high data rate, low latency and packet optimized radio access technology. It has the potential to enhance 3G networks and enable significant new service opportunities in relation to mobile TV and video. Its commercial success requires the early availability of measurement solutions that parallel the standard’s development and, almost to a man, test and measurement manufacturers are jostling for position to be at the forefront of development.

Keen to establish its position Agilent Technologies is addressing LTE needs via its Advanced Design System (ADS) LTE design library, which can simulate uncoded EVM and features constellation and BER receiver measurements for the downlink with the latest subcarrier specifications. The company also provides flexible, platform 78u65based equipment that works in conjunction with ADS to generate and analyze real signals. A working concept of its dedicated LTE signal analysis capability was demonstrated on the show floor, which provided R&D engineers with an insight into the RF and modulation characteristics of an LTE signal. The company also stated its intention to introduce several new measurement products and solutions specifically designed to address the emerging needs of LTE throughout 2007 and 2008.

Agilent is also committed to WiMAX, demonstrating the fact with the introduction of the E6651A Mobile WiMAX Test Set, aimed at enabling designers and manufacturers to accelerate time to market for their IEEE802.16e subscriber products. Created in conjunction with Innowireless Co. Ltd., the test set has the flexibility to configure a wide range of network parameters through an easy-to-use Windows XP user interface, and high-speed, precision-accuracy measurements. It incorporates flexible base station emulation and parametric tests into one integrated unit.

Among a large portfolio, other key introductions included what is claimed to be the industry’s first DigRF v3 digital serial stimulus and analysis tools, which enable comprehensive cross-domain solutions for handset integration teams, RF-IC developers and BB-IC developers. Also, the N4850A 312 Mbps digital acquisition probe and the N4860A 312 Mbps digital stimulus probe for the 16800/900 family of logic analyzers enable development teams to integrate digital and RF measurements to rapidly characterize their products and get to market faster.

LTE and WiMAX products were also to the fore with Rohde & Schwarz who presented first-time solutions for analyzing and generating UMTS LTE signals in the downlink and in the uplink by using the R&S FSQ signal analyzer and the R&S SMU200A signal generator. As for WiMAX, the company was selected by the WiMAX ForumTM to develop the R&S TS8970 radio conformance test tester (RCTT) in line with the IEEE 802.16e mobile WiMAX standard. It supports a frequency range of 400 MHz to 6 GHz, is based on the concept used in the R&S TS8950GW 2G/3G radio conformance test system and is available as an upgrade. The first generation offers fully automatic measurements and complete software functionalities such as customized reporting, flexible data import/export, and auto-calibration.

At the show Rohde & Schwarz added the compact and powerful R&S TSMQ radio network analyser to its product portfolio of coverage measurement systems, which enables users to analyze up to three mobile radio technologies (GSM, WCDMA and cdma2000) in parallel. Its extremely fast UMTS PN scanner enables up to 50 measurements per second in a frequency range of 80 MHz to 3 GHz. It is lightweight (1.5kg), measures 150 x 80 x 170 mm, with a power consumption of less than 10 W and has a separate function that allows analogue power level measurements.

Illustrating the diversity of test equipment in the wireless arena Aeroflex launched the W-CDMA ACE 3G protocol analysis test system. It is a powerful and affordable network emulator for integration and regression testing of W-CDMA mobile devices much earlier in the design cycle than was previously possible. It is able to support the early development of protocol test scenarios through its ability to test partial and incomplete designs. The W-CDMA ACE emulates up to three cells to facilitate handover testing and also includes a built-in fading emulator. The test system has a fully compliant 3GPP L2/L3 protocol stack and powerful baseband processing that allows a wide range of test scenarios to be executed as well as the protocol messaging to be logged, decoded and debugged. It supports 3GPP Release 99, Rel-5 HSDPA and Rel-6 HSUPA and will continue to be developed to support the 3GPP standard as it evolves towards 3G LTE.

The focus was firmly on WiMAX for Tektronix as the company featured its RSA-IQWIMAX software. The result of a partnership with LitePoint this application specific test tool is for characterizing and troubleshooting WiMAX device designs utilizing the company’s RSA3408A Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer. The RSA-IQWIMAX provides spectrum and modulation measurements on OFDM and OFDMA signals in accordance with IEEE 802.16-2004 (fixed) and IEEE 802.16e-2005 (mobile) WiMAX standards, while the RSA3408A captures intermittent or random events.

The combination provides a powerful WiMAX R&D test solution, enabling engineers to perform time, frequency and modulation domain measurements to decompose signals and uncover anomalies, and generate in-depth analysis for troubleshooting WiMAX devices at the design stage. Also showcased was the K1297-G35 WiMAX solution, claimed to be the industry's first protocol monitoring platform for functional testing of Mobile WiMAX radio access products that are based on the IEEE 802.16e standard.

Technology and products move, which was highlighted by Elektrobit when introducing a new version of the Propsim™FE air interface emulator as a single box solution for testing wireless cellular equipment. Its main features are an Automatic Routing Unit (ARU) and support for up to four fading channels. Equipped with the integrated ARU option, the unit enables testing of multiband handset devices with a single connection. The ready-made connection templates make transition from one test case to another straightforward and easy to manage without the need to change cabling in the test setup.

Propsim FE equipped with the ARU option is a single box solution with up to two RF channels for platform, product and pre-conformance test teams performing product integration and verification testing of handsets supporting GSM/EDGE/GPRS, CDMA, CDMA2000 or WCDMA. The new version introduces an Automatic Input Level Setting (AILS) that simplifies assembly of the test setup. It also provides a real time input and output signal power measurement feature for FDD and TDD signals as well as support for Channel Sequence Simulation (CSS).

Rather than equipment, it was test and measurement services that were offered by 7 layers. This global group of test and service centres for the wireless communications industry is said to be the first to offer the complete testing package necessary for USIM Application Toolkit (USAT) testing. The company offers test services that correspond to the 3GPP Test Specification 31.124, which covers the necessary test sequences that verify the interoperability between the Universal Integrated Circuit Card, the mobile phone (or module) and mandatory procedures on the phone, especially for USAT.

7 layers has established a highly automated way of managing these complex test procedures and has connected these test services to its Rapid Response Network of test/service centres. This means that all of the company’s facilities have access to the services and that clients can follow and manage the progress of their test projects via real time web access.

As can be seen, the T&M sector demonstrated its dynamism but so too did the semiconductor and chipset manufacturers who continue to push the technological envelope. In particular RF Micro Devices introduced a breakthrough self-shielding process that enhances RF performance and greatly simplifies integration of complex RF components. The technology is designed to eliminate the need for custom external shields by integrating RF shielding into the RFIC or module. This reduces the volume required for RF sections by approximately 30 to 50 percent and provides customers with RF components that are not sensitive to board placement.

The self shielding technology is applicable to any of the company’s products and is available first in the POLARISTM 3 transceiver solution. POLARIS 3 integrates full quad-band GPRS/EDGE RF transmit/receive paths, the transmit switch, receive SAW filters and associated matching components in a TOTAL RADIOTM implementation that optimizes all combined functions – from antenna to baseband – for improved transmit efficiency and increased receive sensitivity. The TOTAL RADIO implementation eliminates the sourcing and placement of external RF components, reducing RF complexity, lowering platform implementation costs and improving overall handset performance.

Other key product announcements included the RF628x family of products, which combine to provide a UMTS transmit system for the implementation of multi-region multimode 3G handset platforms. RFMD also announced that it has demonstrated full compliance with the DigRF3G v3.09 specification and has adopted the DigRF3G radio interface for its upcoming HSDPA/HSUPA/EDGE cellular transceiver solution.

Continuing its annual tradition of launching an addition to its Helios TM range Skyworks Solutions introduced the Helios WEDGE multimode transceiver. Its architecture requires no interstage filters in the transmit and receive paths and enables high-speed data communication — up to 14.4 Mbps. It also provides flexibility for adopting best in class RF and baseband modems. The transceiver is claimed to be 40 percent smaller than comparable solutions, leaving valuable board space for OEMs to integrate multimedia features such as WiFi, Bluetooth, FM receivers, and DVB-H, and it also eliminates two interstage SAW filters. Through integration and innovative circuit design, the solution also dramatically improves battery life increasing both talk and download times for consumers.

Not content to stop there the company also introduced other significant products. An addition to the company’s InteraLite™ portfolio, the SKY77531 is a new high power, high efficiency quad-band solution compatible with system on chip architectures designed for handsets in emerging markets. Integrating a power amplifier, PA controller and pHEMT switch, the front end module leverages the company’s advanced manufacturing techniques to reduce the RF footprint and overall bill of materials. Also announced were new solutions for the Intera™ family of front-end modules addressing WCDMA applications that support bands 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6. These WCDMA FEMs simplify RF design, reduce critical board space through higher levels of integration, extend battery life, and facilitate implementation within virtually any baseband architecture.

In the race to prepare for deployment of next generation wireless standards, Freescale Semiconductor introduced a high power multi-stage RF power LDMOS FET characterized for TD-SCDMA wireless base stations. Recognising that the TD-SCDMA standard is a 3G wireless access method, which is expected to be widely deployed in China, the company claims to be the first to deliver commercial RFICs, characterized for the emerging standard. The flagship MW6IC2240NB is an LDMOS two-stage RFIC. When employed in a final amplifier application at 28 V, it is designed to deliver a gain of 28 dB, ALT1 of -47 dBc and ALT2 of -49 dBc (6 carrier TD-SCDMA signal) from 2010 MHz to 2025 MHz at an output power of 35 dBm. It operates from 26 to 32 V features integrated quiescent current temperature compensation and is housed in a TO-272 over-moulded plastic package.

The company also claims to have delivered the industry's first two stage RFICs capable of delivering the 100 W RF output power required for GSM and EDGE network base stations. When driven by Freescale's MMG3005N general purpose amplifier, the MWE6IC9100N and MW7IC18100N RFICs form a comprehensive 100 W power amplifier solution for wireless base stations operating at 900 and 1800 MHz. The former is designed for both the 869 to 894 MHz cellular and 920 to 960 MHz GSM bands, while the MWE6IC9100N addresses the stringent linearity requirements with spectral regrowth of -63 dBc and -81 dBc at 400 kHz and 600 kHz, respectively, with EVM of two percent rms.

NXP Semiconductors, formerly Philips Semiconductors, has changed its name but not its technological innovation as demonstrated by the Nexperia cellular system solution 5210. Incorporating an unlicensed mobile access software stack from Kineto Wireless, the system enables simultaneous usage of Bluetooth and WLAN, allowing devices to be used at home over fixed-line broadband networks and while on the go via a cellular network.

To achieve this the company has integrated a complex set of coexistence algorithms into the 5210’s baseband, its low power BGW211 WLAN and Bluetooth solutions. As a highly integrated and small form factor cellular system solution, the 5210 can be easily designed into new devices. Combining a powerful single core with the company’s BGB210S for advanced Bluetooth 2.0 EDR and its 802.11g WLAN (BGW211) the 5210 delivers an effective and intuitive multimedia experience on mobile devices.

Following on from the announcement of its Global Handset Strategy on 1 February TriQuint Semiconductor launched several new products including the newest product in the HADRON PA Module™ family, the TQM7M5008. It is a quad-band GSM/EDGE-Polar power amplifier module, which supports QUALCOMM’s newest 3G multimode transceivers. In an industry standard 7 x 7 mm footprint the PAM is designed for GSM/EDGE wireless handsets and data cards in the GSM 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 bands. It supports both class 12 GPRS mode and EDGE polar mode.

The company also released its newest line of RF SAW filters for GSM/EDGE/WCDMA networks, offering standard 3 x 3 mm footprints, low insertion loss and high unwanted signal rejection. They are designed for key network applications including use in signal repeaters that extend and fill-in network coverage areas. Also showcased were a new pair of highly integrated products: the TQM6M9009, a quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE transmit module that adds a WEDGE/HEDGE compliant switch as the first product in the QUANTUM II Tx ModuleTM family; and the TQM6M9009, which is designed for single antenna applications for quad-band GSM, plus ‘antenna pass through’ to support worldwide W-CDMA coverage in Bands 1, 2, 5 or 6.

Avago Technologies claims to have introduced the industry’s smallest integrated RF front-end module for GSM/UMTS Band 1 handsets. The AFEM-7780 module integrates the company’s Film Bulk Acoustic Resonator (FBAR) based duplexer with its advanced CoolPAM power amplifier technology. Advancements in this technology extend handset battery life. The AFEM-7780 module measures 4 x 7 x 1.1 mm, is supplied in a 20 pin surface mount package, and by combining a transmitter filter, power amplifiers, coupler and duplexer into one module, the module dramatically reduces the need for engineering resources and speeds time to market.

Another new introduction, the ALM-1412 is claimed to be the industry’s first GPS low noise amplifier (LNA) with integrated filter. The company is a leading supplier of innovative semiconductor solutions for advanced communications, industrial and commercial applications. With a very low noise figure and high linearity the LNA provides superior GPS signal reception sensitivity and is ideal for use in handsets, in-vehicle navigation GPS receivers and GPS antennas. Designers of handsets or in-vehicle navigation can create compact products with more features and functionality due to the very small package size of the ALM-1412. The company has also integrated its GPS LNA with its FBAR filter into a 3.3 x 2.1 x 1.1 mm MCOB package, which reduces PCB space and component count for GPS applications at 1.575 GHz.

The latest LNAs from Infineon Technologies, the BGA700L16 and the BGA734L16, are based on a combination of the company’s proprietary Silicon Germanium Carbon (SiGe:C) process with an additional feature of low resistance on-chip ground contact. The combination is claimed to result in LNA’s with best in class noise figures. The BGA700L16 is a dual band LNA for Wireless LAN systems. The chip integrates a single stage amplifier for the 2.45 GHz band and a two-stage amplifier to meet the requirements of the 4.9 to 5.95 GHz band. The tri-band LNA BGA734L16 is developed for usage in UMTS or HSxPA applications. In order to reduce design complexity and minimize costs the RF device integrates three amplifiers for the 800, 1,900 and 2,100 MHz cellular bands on one chip.

Playing it ‘smart’, literally, the company presented two new single-chip RF CMOS transceivers — the SMARTi® PM+ and SMARTi® UE. The former is said to be the world’s smallest quad-band RF transceiver for GPRS/EDGE, measuring just 3 x 3 x 0.8 mm in a wafer level package. The transceiver includes integrated DCXO, loop filter and voltage regulators, and uses small signal polar modulation architecture for compatibility with standard low-cost linear power amplifiers available. The SMARTi UE is claimed to be the world’s first single-chip UMTS/EDGE RF transceiver that supports the latest DigRF 3.09 specification for the transceiver to baseband interface. The package measures 6 x 6 mm and supports HSDPA and HSUPA, three UMTS bands out of UMTS Bands I through X, as well as quad-band EDGE.

Away from the T&M and semiconductor and chipset sectors other manufacturers provided the means for the latest communications technologies to be transmitted. A case in point was Emerson Network Power that previewed the MicroTCA WiMAX Base Station. The demo featured the company’s MicroTCA system housed in a Knürr outdoor enclosure and included an Intel WiMAX baseband processing card, E1/T1 and Gigabit Ethernet backhaul cards and a system controller card. The demo utilized the new MicroTCA EMC6000 Series platform. Featuring independent control and data plane operation the system is equipped with a MicroTCA Carrier Hub module, power supply, application/protocol processing, and a system controller card. The MCH provides IPMI management, Gigabit Ethernet switching for the control plane, and optional telecom clock distribution.

Moving on to antennas, Antenova introduced the GPS RADIONOVA® RF antenna module for embedded GPS applications for mobile handsets, personal navigation devices, PDA’s and laptop computers. It integrates a high performance and low power receiver IC with the company’s high efficiency single ended internally balanced antenna. The antenna module is a true drop in solution that delivers high efficiency and reliable performance. The module consists of a GPS radio IC and the company’s patented single feed balanced antenna in a 7 x 34.5 x 4 mm package with a low profile connector for vertical mounting. Because of its small size and balanced antenna technology, the antenna module only requires a PCB with a ground plane as small as 20 x 40 mm for efficient operation.

Alongside the new products there was also a new name that is the combination of two familiar ones. Harris Stratex Networks is the combination of Stratex Networks and Harris Corporation’s Microwave Communications Division, and 3GSM 2007 provided the opportunity for the company to state its goals and intentions. With calendar year 2006 revenue of about $650 million, the company is the largest independent provider of wireless transmission network solutions, with customers in over 150 countries. It offers end to end wireless transmission solutions for mobile and fixed wireless service providers, and private networks.

The new company’s solutions offering will be the broadest in the industry, including microwave radios for access and trunking applications, carrier-grade Ethernet transmission systems, network management software, and turnkey field services that include network planning, engineering and implementation. With this combination, the company expects to gain significant manufacturing cost synergies due to increased volume leverage, more streamlined supply chain processes, and increased use of outsourced contract manufacturing in low cost locations.

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

As a showcase for emerging markets 3GSM World Congress 2007 has manifested itself into an event that asks the question, “What next for mobile technology?” This report has attempted to highlight the technology and innovation that is striving to provide some answers and to offer a glimpse of future development.

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