The reality of cellular network evolution is that infrastructure roll out precedes that of the handset user equipment. But without user equipment (UE), how do you test a base station? Since 1999, the answer for 3GPP networks has been the Aeroflex TM500 Test Mobile. Used by every major infrastructure equipment vendor and femtocell manufacturer for developing WCDMA R99 and HSUPA/HSDPA through to HSPA+, the Aeroflex TM500 has become the market-leading test mobile throughout the development cycle for 3GPP verification, validation and optimization.
Now, the pace of Long Term Evolution (LTE) development is accelerating with specifications maturing and commercial field trials taking place next year. As CDMA technology seeks an LTE migration path, the pressure is on for the infrastructure equipment vendors to deliver quickly to market.
“Judging from the significant sales of our TM500 LTE test mobiles to all of the major vendors throughout Europe, North America and Asia, LTE is clearly going to become the mobile broadband technology of choice for all the established operators,” said Evan Gray, product line manager at Aeroflex Test Solutions. “By ensuring that the TM500 LTE roadmap is always in step with the demands of the industry and supports testing of the very latest 3GPP functionality, the Aeroflex TM500 test mobile system is fast becoming the de facto global standard for LTE.”
LTE represents a significant radio access technology shift, the deployment of which is a major challenge. The Aeroflex TM500 LTE test mobiles meet this challenge by providing low level UE control and configuration flexibility combined with the detailed measurement data required by infrastructure engineers to rapidly diagnose engineering issues. The TM500 LTE Single-UE, first launched in 2007, provides the ability to test an LTE base station and network against a single mobile both in the lab and over the air. However, testing against a single mobile is only part of the story. Base station and core network designs need to be load tested, stressed and optimized to ensure that robust, flexible and high performance solutions are delivered to network operators. With the TM500 LTE Multi-UE launched last month, complex scheduler, load and capacity testing can also be performed early in the design.
“Structured and incremental test programs are essential for the development integration, verification and optimization of LTE infrastructure,” continued Gray. “The Aeroflex TM500 LTE Single and Multi-UE test mobiles address all of these issues through a suite of test components including the physical layer, and protocol development, which support standalone testing of the base station physical layer through to network level load testing.”
Infrastructure vendors have been successfully developing, testing and demonstrating LTE equipment using Aeroflex’s initial LTE Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) mode test mobiles since 2007. However, with China heading towards a Time Division Duplex version of LTE (TD-LTE), Aeroflex has just launched the TM500 TD-LTE test mobile for delivery in late 2008 to meet the demands of the TD-LTE mode development and roll out.
“There are some extremely demanding timescales for TD-LTE trials in China,” concluded Gray. “The TM500 TD-LTE complements our LTE test mobile portfolio and can co-exist in the same unit as the TM500 LTE-FDD protecting investment and maximizing test flexibility for engineers working on both standards. With products such as this, we are demonstrating our determination to provide customers with the right functionality when they need it and believe that this product leadership will ensure that TM500 becomes the global standard for LTE test mobiles.”