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4G World Wrap-up

Editor's notes from the 2009 4G World Conference and Exhibition in Chicago

September 23, 2009
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4G World™ (formerly WiMAX World, Mobile Internet World™, and the 15th Annual International Symposium of the Wireless Communications Association International (WCAI)) is an annual conference and expo focused on next generation mobile networks from infrastructure to devices, and applications. The event differs from other shows that focus on WiMAX or LTE, in that 4G World has no bias for or against any particular technology. Instead, the event aims to support the development of a business case considering multiple advanced 3G and 4G technologies and related scenarios regarding spectrum utilization, network architecture and service revenues. Therefore, plenty of technologies are discussed and on display. From the microwave perspective, there are more than a few test equipment, cable, chip, filter, antenna and backhaul equipment manufacturers present. For a microwave guy, it is a good opportunity to get a glimpse at the bigger picture in broadband communications, the underlying networks and the competing infrastructure technologies.

4G World features keynote presentations from industry leading mobile operators who discuss the business and technical challenges of 4G network evolution, including the roles of mobile WiMAX, WiFi, HSPA and LTE technologies, and the rollout of new mobile internet services and applications. 4G World keynotes were presented by Bill Morrow, CEO of Clearwire, Kris Rinne, Senior Vice President—Architecture & Planning, AT&T and Neville Ray, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations, T-Mobile USA. Senior executives from leading software and network technology solution providers, and other independent experts, also presented their views on the current state and future of 4G technologies such as HSPA+, WiMAX and long-term evolution (LTE).

The majority of microwave companies at this show seem to be test equipment manufacturers. their were however, several component manufacturers include cable companies such as Times Microwave and Harting Technologies, local crystal oscillator manufacturer - NDK, and KMW Communications. KMW was displaying their complete line of LTE and WiMAX products including the newest Black Hole Filter and Remote Radio Heads. The black hole filter received a bit of attention from attendees and we were told it is being well received by early customers. We are expecting more news about this filter in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

NDK's GPS timing module NCR-48 was on display at their exhibition booth. The NCR-48 is composed of a OCXO and highly reliable GPS module (RF and ASIC) that supplies high stability (10MHz output) and high accuracy (1 pps) timing signals for Base Station of Mobile communication systems (i.e. - WiMAX Base Station, Next Generation PHS Base Station and LTE Base Transceiver Station).

RF/Microwave Test & Measurement Equipment

Anritsu
Anritsu Co. was on-hand to display their products and software addressing the emerging 3GPP LTE TDD (Time Division Duplex) technology. The three packages, for use with Anritsu’s MG3700A Vector Signal Generator and MS269xA Signal Analyzer Series, expand Anritsu’s LTE test portfolio to include solutions to measure devices, chipsets and equipment designed for either LTE TDD or LTE FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) mode.

The MX370110A LTE TDD IQproducer creates 3GPP LTE TDD waveforms. The GUI allows visual confirmation of the waveform format, including the location and extent of the physical channels as well as the power profile for the frame. The signal generator uses these waveform patterns to create RF signals for evaluation of receiver characteristics of base stations, mobile terminals and chipsets. A modulation bandwidth of 120 MHz allows the generator to create complex multi-carrier waveforms. Post-processing of waveforms created by the IQproducer produces multi-carrier waveforms with various offsets and levels.

The Vector Signal Generator has two ARB memories, so it can replace two signal generators with a signal RF output. Its ARB memories and signal addition function allow the MG3700A Vector Signal Generator to produce both the desired and interfering signals from a single RF port, so it can measure receiver characteristics such as Adjacent Channel Selectivity or Blocking. No external combining is required. The level control of the signals produced by each memory is controlled easily via the front panel of the instrument.

IQproducer and the LTE TDD Downlink measurement packages allow a single (MS269xA) Signal Analyzer to conduct evaluations of both transmitter and receiver characteristics of LTE TDD signals. The MX269910A LTE TDD IQproducer creates waveforms that allow a Signal Analyzer equipped with the MS269xA-020, Vector Signal Generator Option, to conduct receiver tests. With a single ARB memory, the MS269xA can also add AWGN to any output RF signal.

The MX269022A LTE TDD Downlink measurement package measures LTE TDD base station transmitter characteristics. Frequency domain and time domain measurement reports support various measurement resolutions, including symbol resolution, sub-carrier resolution, or Resource Block resolution. One-button measurements take advantage of the powerful MS269xA’s signal analyzer mode and spectrum analyzer mode. Pre-configured masks make power and adjacent channel measurements simple. Built for speed and performance, the MS269xA Vector Signal analyzer ensures fast and accurate LTE TDD measurements.

The company was also showing off their test equipment for field engineers and technicians conducting deployment tests, installation, and monitoring the operation of LTE networks. The measurement suite is a set of optional measurement capabilities for Anritsu's industry leading MS272xB Spectrum Master™, and MT8222A and MT8221B BTS Master™ handheld analyzers that includes tests for RF signal parameters, modulation quality, and Over-the-Air (OTA) scanning. The LTE RF measurement option allows users to accurately and quickly analyze the spectrum for interference and spectral compliance, as well as conduct occupied bandwidth and Adjacent Channel Leakage Ratio (ACLR) tests. With the LTE modulation quality measurement option, Error Vector Magnitude (EVM), frequency error, and Control Channel power tests can be conducted. OTA measurements with the third option are used to determine interference from co-channel transmitters, help troubleshoot problems with coverage area, and verify coverage of self-organizing networks.

Rohde & Schwarz
The CMW500 is the flagship solution from R&S for testing LTE (R8) features. It has the wide spectrum of capabilities including Hand Over to various technologies including 2G, 3G,WCDMA and 1xEvDo on one single box. This box also will support WiMax in Q4 2009 and is one box solution for all major Network technology available today. CMW500 designed based on the 3GPP specification and has plenty of features to perform LTE conformance Tests and R&D. All conformance Tests are written in TTCN3 for LTE but R&D can be done using Medium Level APIs (C++ APIs) or using TTCN3 language. There are number of free scenarios available for those customers who wants to perform R&D and creating a new scenario is very simple and straightforward. CMW500 is the solution that can be used for LTE RRM and RF testing both conformance and parametric testing.

Also at 4G World, Rohde & Schwarz demonstrated the latest equipment development for testing LTE/WiMAX remote radio heads which communicate via the Common Public Radio Interface CPRI™ digital interface protocol standard. Together with remote radio heads from Radiocomp®, the CPRI™ test solution was first publicly showcased in Chicago. Successful trials of the Rohde & Schwarz solution have been already carried out at various lead customers in Japan.

The R&S EX-IQ-Box digital interface module connects signal generators, signal analyzers and communications testers from Rohde & Schwarz to devices or components that feature digital baseband inputs and/or outputs. It allows adaptation to standardized as well as user-specific digital interface formats. Rohde & Schwarz extends this test solution to signal generation and reception in line.

The new option R&S EXBOX-B85 for the R&S EX-IQ-Box enables the user to perform tests directly at the CPRI™ interface between the base station radio equipment control (REC) and the base station radio equipment (RE). Simulation of either the REC or the RE allows independent testing of the RE or REC, respectively. Hereby, the test solution helps to speed up time-to-market and to save valuable development resources. It delivers standardized signals that act as reference for maintaining the interoperability of products from different vendors. In the first release, the R&S EXBOX-B85 emulates the REC for testing the RE. Via a future software update it will also support emulation of the RE for testing the REC.

The connection to the device under test (DUT) is done via the enclosed CPRI™ specific breakout board, which supports small form factor pluggable (SFP) modules for the optical CPRI™ link. The interface is easily configured via the enclosed R&S DigIConf configuration software. All state-of-the-art standards such as 3GPP FDD (incl. HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+), LTE, WiMAX and CDMA2000 are supported. The test solution covers individual uplink or downlink operation as well as full duplex operation. Depending on the configuration, up to 24 signal streams with settable sample rates can be processed; line bit rates of up to 2457.6 Mbps are achieved. Control and management information can be inserted in realtime (“fast C&M”).

Aeroflex
Aeroflex unveiled new LTE measurement capabilities to its flexible, modular PXI 3000 platform, enabling production test engineers to achieve faster time to volume for RF components and LTE user equipment. The new measurement suite option for the PXI 3000 allows production test system engineers to use low-cost modular PXI equipment to characterize LTE terminals, chipsets and RF components. LTE terminals will feature the coexistence of LTE with legacy standards in the same device. Supporting multiple cellular standards in a single test platform will improve production yield while reducing test times.

The new measurement suite is complemented by the new LTE waveform generation capabilities of Aeroflex IQCreator® software, which supports the PXI 3000 Series as well as the Aeroflex 3410 Series of bench-top digital RF signal generators. The new LTE FDD Measurement Suite for the PXI 3000 Series enables characterization of LTE FDD signals in accordance with the requirements outlined in 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 8. This allows LTE analysis of the single-carrier frequency division multiple access (SC-FDMA) uplink and Aeroflex will soon be adding OFDMA downlink support as well. In addition to numerical measurement results, the measurement suite provides trace displays for spectrum emission mask (SEM), complementary cumulative distribution function (CCDF), constellation plots, error-vector magnitude (EVM) vs. carrier, and EVM vs. symbol. Capabilities expand across the entire range of possible frequencies and bandwidths, from 1.4 to 20 MHz, when used with any of Aeroflex’s PXI modules.

IQ Creator Version 8.10 is a Windows®-based software application that enables a user to set up a modulation scheme and create an ARB file for use in conjunction with the PXI 3020 Series modular signal generators and the 3410 Series bench-top digital RF signal generators. IQCreator® Version 8.10 adds complete LTE FDD support for the PXI 3000 Series RF modular instrument and 3410 Series digital signal generators enabling uplink and downlink LTE stimulus response measurements on components used in LTE based products. IQCreator® Version 8.10 is now available and can be downloaded from the Aeroflex website. Version 8.10 of IQCreator® is also shipping now with all new 3020 Series PXI signal generator modules fitted with option 100.

Trilithic

RF & Microwave Components and Broadband Testing Equipment manufacturer, Trilithic presented their new 8853 series of 3 GHz Spectrum Analyzers to the Broadcast and Wireless Markets. This new series of spectrum analyzers has a wireless option package which includes channel power, adjacent channel power (ACP) and Complimentary Cumulative Distribution Function (CCDF) for testing CDMA2000, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, 1x EV-DO and WiMAX. Priced significantly lower than competitively featured analyzers, the new 8853 Series garnered a respectable amount of attention from show attendees with the hopes that wireless operators would be able to put sophisticated analysis and troubleshooting capability in the hands of a wider range of technicians.

Outside the actual exhibition hall, Agilent Technologies and Tessco Technologies each held special presentations and demos in private rooms. Agilent Technologies focused on their latest 4G test solutions for LTE, WiMAX, WLAN, HSPA, femtocell and MIMO with demo stations specifically targeting R&D, design verification, manufacturing, protocol conformance and interoperability test, as well as network deployment and maintenance/service quality.

Agilent Technologies

One demo station was dedicated to verification of PHY layer performance of LTE TDD/FDD systems with 2x2 MIMO transmission. The set-up utilized Agilent's SystemVue Electronic System-Level (ESL) Design Software and the company's PXB MIMO receiver tester, allowing baseband designers to create and verify robust algorithms in order to ensure system throughput performance and greater coverage of the Layer 1 standard, before physical prototypes are actually available for test. SystemVue's new sub-frame communication HARQ support extends the physical layer to allow new dynamic behaviors, while retaining the versatility and RF accuracy of the physical layer approach. The Model N5106A PXB MIMO receiver tester, with N7624B Signal Studio for 3GPP LTE, supports real-time LTE testing with HARQ (Hybrid Automatic Repeat Request) feedback from DUT, enabling closed-loop testing with dynamically changing LTE test signals. To simulate realistic propagation conditions in a variety of different environments, mandatory fading profiles defined in eNB Performance Requirements or custom-defined fading profiles could be added to real-time LTE signals along with AWGN.

3GPP LTE UE protocol and device validation was demonstrated with a combination of the Agilent PXT (E6620A) Wireless Communications Test Set and the Anite SAT LTE Protocol Development Toolset, available through the Agilent/Anite LTE partnership. The set-up allows LTE protocol and device designers to develop, test and debug their designs for applications from early protocol development all the way through to conformance test.The one-box E6620 test set also provides bench top network emulation for quick and easy application and performance testing. Uplink and downlink MIMO, RF measurements,integrated channel emulation (fading), end-to-end IP data connections, and a scripting interface for protocolconformance tests

Nonlinear device characterization was being demonstrated with Agilent's nonlinear Vector Network Analyzer (NVNA) software and PNA-X network analyzer. The test box and software along with automatic load pull tuners from Maury Microwave (not demonstrated at this show) are used to extract device X-parameters for nonlinear devices. The test set-up and X-parameter format from Agilent and will also be on display at European Microwave week for engineers wanting a first hand look at the latest in nonlinear device chaarcterization.

A wireless drive test was featured with Agilent’s customizable and scalable solution for optimizing wireless networks. The platform included a receiver with up to eight frequency bands and software that could simultaneously measure and troubleshoot network RF coverage and service delivery across all existing 2G, 3G and 4G technologies, including WiMAX, LTE and VoIP.

Agilent was also displaying their field test solutions with the Agilent FieldFox handheld RF analyzer, a 4/6 GHz, multi-mode handheld cable and antenna tester. These handheld tools for Spectrum Analysis / Cable Antenna Test support wireless network installation and maintenance.

Tessco Technologies

Tessco Technologies partnered with Agilent in their effort to put together a truly impressive 4G demonstration based on multiple WiMAX networks co-habitating in one room. VoIP, streaming video, gaming, and remote sensing/monitoring were among the data formats being simulataneously exchanged over multiple WiMAX networks operating in their reception room. As we ate food from the buffet, the company personnel from across the street in the exhibition hall were controlling the video cameras in our room via the internet. The extent of what Tessco could put together for virtually any network requirement was truly impressive. Quite the wired/wireless experience.

Dragonwave
Wireless backhaul equipment manufacturer, DragonWave received kudos from an industry magazine for their new Horizon Quantum packet microwave solution. DragonWave received the Best 4G Enabling Technology Innovation award during ceremonies. “We are thrilled to have been selected for this award.” said Peter Allen, DragonWave’s president and CEO. “The inflection of 4G Networks represent a whole new wave of infrastructure expansion and we are extremely excited to be bringing Horizon Quantum forward at this particular moment to support the rapidly expanding Mobile Broadband environment.”

The Horizon Quantum has up to 4 Gbps per link and delivers the next generation in packet microwave technology. Quantum is a step change in capacity, nodal intelligence, spectral efficiency and operational simplicity, occupying only half a rack unit and consuming the lowest power per bit of any packet microwave solution today. The carrier-grade DragonWave solution enables 99.999% service reliability, delivers advanced security and encryption and fully supports SynchE and other critical Ethernet data transport capabilities such as virtual local area network (VLAN) queuing/prioritization, flow control and jumbo packets. Ultra-low latency, hitless Automatic Adaptive Modulation and XPIC support mean that Quantum is optimized for tomorrow’s high capacity networks. The solution delivers interference-free performance in both licensed and unlicensed radio frequencies in the 6 to 38-GHz range.

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