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Freedom is Wireless: CTIA 2010 Wrap Up

March 30, 2010
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The keynote session on March 23 kicked off the CTIA 2010 exhibition in Las Vegas, NV, with Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, presenting the case that the US is the world leader in mobile broadband no matter how you measure it. The US has the most 3G subscribers (117 million), the most WiFi hotspots (70,000), spends the most of wireless capital expenditures on mobile broadband (80%), has the highest investment in LTE (30% in 2009), the most smart phones (53 million according to Strategy Analytics) and an estimated 412 million M2M devices deployed by 2014. However, he did emphasize that the US must continue to innovate or this lead could evaporate quickly.

He stressed that we are currently at a threshold, so we must address the looming capacity issues as this expansion continues. The US is freeing up quite a bit more of spectrum to use for mobile broadband, but the country must also find more efficient ways to use the spectrum. LTE could be as much as 2.5 times more efficient than HSPA and the industry needs to work together to develop efficient apps. We also need to use other methods to supplement capacity such as WiFi and femtocells.

Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA, acknowledged the 25th year of CTIA and showed the new "Freedom is Wireless" commercial being released. He stated that connected devices grew from 270 to 285 million from last year to this year and MMS grew 130% in 2009.

The exhibition floor was very busy and many new phone announcements were made along with various apps. Yahoo was demonstrating an app where you could just draw a line or circle on Google maps and it would automatically list the restaurants within the immediate area. On my plane flight over I was able to get a hands-on sneak peak at the HTC HD2, which is a spectacular phone and runs Windows mobile so it will play well with Office files and programs for business use. It has a super large 4.3” high resolution screen, 5 MP camera and 1 GHz processor. Even more impressive at the show was the HTC Evo based on the same design, although it runs on Android 2.1 and is the first WiMAX/4G phone for Sprint. It also steps up the camera 8MP and has a front-facing camera 1.3MP camera capable of HD video recording and can act as a hot spot. I want one!

There are several special Zones or Pavilions within the show floor specializing in specific areas such as wireless backhaul, test/measurement and M2M. The M2M Zone is run by our parent company Horizon House and is full of RF/microwave technology. One very interesting area is the medical field, where many applications are being developed to improve care and reduce costs. Telit in the M2M Zone won a show award for its glowing prescription medication cap (GlowCaps) that reminds patients to take their medicine. The New England Health institute recently identified $290 B in unnecessary health cost due to non-adherence by patients so the problem is very costly. The GlowCaps can connect to a patient’s social network, provide adherence data to a doctor or pharmacist via SMS and coordinate refills. If a patient forgets to take their medication, the device first glows, then an electronic tune that increases in volume follows and finally the M2M module sends notification to the network. After that the patient receives an SMS asking why they did not take their medicine and a doctor can be notified.

The RF/Microwave Zone run by Microwave Journal was busy with exhibitors from Freescale, JFW, Spinner, Times, Consistel, Electro Rent, Innertron, Trilithic, Park Electrochemical, RF Window, ACC and Rojone. We visited the RF and microwave companies at the show and here is a rundown of what we saw:

Product Highlight Videos:

Freescale was showing several Doherty demo amplifiers including the MRF8S9300H (HV8) 300 W for 800/900 MHz WCDMA/MC-GSM applications. They are currently using symmetrical Doherty designs with about 45 to 47% efficiency and are also working on asymmetrical designs. In addition, the company had a nice demo 12 bit accelerometer setup for advanced functions for handsets and other devices.

JFW has expanded its offerings to 6 GHz and beyond and has a new catalog with over 200 new parts. They also have more computer controlled test systems.

Spinner had many components on display as they now offer one stop shopping for connecting antennas to the power units. They had their Flex cables and were highlighting a new wide band bias tee that operates from 380 MHz to 2.7 GHz and able to handle 750 W, making it “future proof.”

Times Microwave just entered the lightning protection market with its Time Protect grounding and lightning protection products. The company offers the BTR, GTR and STR Series of products. They are also well known for their coaxial cables and cable assemblies, which were also on display.

Consistel was showing its ATRIUM in-building Wireless Enterprise software, which manages design to deployment. Through accurate analysis and intelligent information processing, ATRIUM addresses all of the challenges and opportunities within the in-building wireless lifecycle.

Electro Rent Corp. has rental, lease and buy new or used programs for test and measurement equipment. They were showing the Booton PIM31 20 W passive intermodulation analyzer. The company offers a wide range of equipment from various manufacturers.

Innertron was displaying a wide variety of RF components including filters, front-end units, power distribution products, repeaters, waveguide products, passive components, converters, connectors and cable assemblies.

Trilithic was talking a new 700 MHz duplexer for LTE band 13 in addition to its many other products such as filters (LC miniature, cavity and tunable), switches, attenuators (fixed, programmable and manual), test accessories and subsystems (matrix switching, digital filters, attenuation assemblies and controllers).

Park Electrochemical is a substrate/materials provider and was featuring its Mercurywave 9350 high frequency, low loss resin system. With its low loss electrical properties and high thermal reliability, it is suitable for base station equipment designs, automotive, satellite, military and broadband applications. See their product feature from the February 2010 issue of MWJ.

RF Window was showing its Solo relay system, which is a pico-sized intelligent digital relay system that provides optimized service that secures service coverage inside buildings. It plugs and plays so it is easy to install.

Rojone had its GPS tracking devices on display. Ezitrak is a black box, covertly installed in a vehicle to track and monitor its position on demand. It uses GPS for accurate tracking and the GSM network for economical communication and data transfer. It has additional features such as stolen vehicle tracking over the phone, anti-theft tamper alarms, speed notification, trip reporting, remote engine immobilization and unlock/lock, etc.

Advanced Control Components (ACC) was displaying its technology and standard products from basic components to sub-assemblies including amplifiers, attenuators, detectors, converters, limiters, phase shifters, switches, synthesizers and custom assemblies. The company also offer design and assembly services.

Skyworks Solutions introduced the industry’s first suite of high performance broadband synthesizers spanning ultra wide frequency ranges from 375 MHz to 5.6 GHz. Skyworks’ new device, which is designed to cover all GSM, WCDMA and LTE frequency bands with one device, supports the world’s leading 3G and 4G base station providers including Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE, Alcatel/Lucent and Nokia/Siemens.

Anritsu announced that Verizon Wireless had selected Anritsu’s BTS Master handheld base station analyzer to test the LTE network being deployed by Verizon Wireless throughout the United States. Verizon Wireless field engineers and technicians are using the BTS Master configured with its LTE test option to conduct RF and modulation quality measurements on LTE signals to help ensure successful installation of base stations in Boston, Seattle and other cities. They introduced options for its MS2712E/2713E Spectrum Master handheld analyzers that enable testing on 10 MHz LTE signals. Anritsu introduced the Cell Master MT8213E compact handheld base station analyzer with coverage up to 6 GHz and the MS2830A Signal Analyzer with coverage from 9 kHz to 3.6/6.0/13.5 GHz.

Rohde and Schwarz had many products in its booth including R&S CMW500 wideband radio communication tester, R&S CMW270 WiMAX communication tester, and CPRI interface testing on radio modules for LTE/WiMAX among others. They announced that they will sponsor the 2010 North American LTE Forum to be held in the Dallas, TX area May 4-5. They also announced that Samsung is using test equipment from Rohde & Schwarz to produce USB modems for the world's first commercial LTE network, and that Verizon wireless chose Rohde & Schwarz to provide testing solutions for the certification of LTE devices.

Agilent was demonstrating real world mobile phone testing using its emulator, which has the ability to replicate various types of voice and data that will be experienced by users. Their PXA spectrum analyzer can perform LTE testing and has the largest instantaneous bandwidth of 140 MHz and an impressive noise floor of -172 dBm (-174 dBm is the theoretical limit). They had their FieldFox 4 in 1 unit for field testing also on display. They announced that they are monitoring, analyzing and reporting on the interoperability testing of LTE/SAE network devices at test trials sponsored by the MultiService Forum hosted by the Vodafone Test and Innovation Center in Dusseldorf, Germany, and China Mobile in Beijing.

Aeroflex was demonstrating its 7000 combined vector signal analyzer and generator with a touch screen and intuitive menus. It covers 1 MHz to 6 GHz and has 90 MHz generation and analysis bandwidth. It supports multiple cellular and wireless broadband standards including LTE.

Boonton (Wireless Telecom Group) was showing off its PIM 31 passive intermodulation analyzer 2 x 20 W series test systems. They feature a 20 W PIM analyzer, two variable signals (+20 to +44 dBm), user selectable Tx frequencies, high PIM sensitivity of -175 dBc at 2 x 43 dBm carriers, measures IM3/5/7/9, user selectable sweeps, self calibration and touch screen. Microlab released a new low cost injector diplexer (to separate or combine the VHF-UHF band from 80 to 520 MHz from all the wireless frequency bands from 698 to 2700 MHz), 3 port Hybrid Combiner with integral 10W load, a hybrid coupler that covers all the common bands between 800 and 2,500 MHz with 25 dB isolation between inputs and <1.2:1 VSWR and a range of medium power attenuators with PIM of less than -150 dBm when measured with two 20 W test tones.

Elektrobit (EB) had its new MIMO OTA test setup on display. It was featured on the cover of the March 2010 issue of Microwave Journal as the most valuable product for that month’s issue as an emulator enabling evaluation of different mobile terminal designs in a fully repeatable and realistic wireless network environment.

Symmetricom was featuring its TimeAnalyzer 7500 IEEE 1588 (PTP) measurement and analysis test system. It is an all-in-one test and measurement instrument for collecting and analyzing IEEE 1588 packet timing data, as well as analyzing traditional synchronization signals. Symmetricom’s SCi 2000 Embedded Software Clock enables NEMs to integrate Symmetricom’s field-proven IEEE 1588 client technology into their respective network elements, such as switches, routers, DSLAMs and base stations. The SCi 2000 delivers both frequency and phase synchronization and provides advanced network-wide monitoring for increased synchronization performance.

Sage was there with its UCTT 8901 next generation portable base station tester for 3G and 4G wireless networks. It combines a laboratory quality FFT spectrum analyzer, an antenna tester and fully integrated backhaul test capabilities.

Spirent was discussing its LTE device testing including conformance testing as best can be done with what is known about the latest standard. They are working with Verizon and others to test data throughput, data re-try, conformance, etc. for 700 MHz LTE. To that end, Spirent was performing a live demonstration of the performance capabilities of a pre-commercial LTE modem with a focus on real world deployment challenges. The company was also showing its LTE infrastructure and device testing solutions. ETS Lindgren was showing off its MIMO wireless test system, AMS-8700, for LTE, WiMAX and 802.11n MIMO testing.

AT4 Wireless was showing its E2010 broadband wireless test set that provides a full range of multi-technology scenarios in the lifecycle of terminals. It is a one-box test solution for all 3GPP standards. The company also had its S3110B LTE mobile test application, which is an early RF design validation tool.

Huber + Suhner was displaying the UWB antennas operating from 3.8 to 6 GHz, MIMO antennas and PIM testing kit with cables. They have a wide variety of connectivity solutions ranging from antennas to cables to components and test standards.

PPC introduced its line of pre-assembled wireless jumpers for corrugated and smooth-wall cables. Allowing installers to connect devices without having to construct the jumper using lower-quality components on site, the pre-made solutions from PPC save time and money by improving efficiency, while decreasing dropped calls due to failed connections.

Amphenol Antenna Solutions showed its Trio antennas that are 3-sector base station antennas concealed inside compact cylindrical shrouds. They can blend into the environment enabling quick site approval in most challenging urban settings.

Advantech has a new family of high capacity systems, AMR Transcend, that use adaptive coding and modulation technology enabling high-capacity microwave radio systems to increase Ethernet connection availability at much lower cost levels with high quality of service levels.

Talley was showing off its wide range of broadband equipment provided by their vendors. Here is a link to the company's offerings: Talley Broadband Equipment.

Smith Interconnect/Wireless Technologies Group (TRiasX and Summitek) were showing its 700 MHz LTE ready tower mount amplifiers, combiners/diplexers and filters. In addition, they were highlighting their passive intermodulation analyzer contained in a rugged, portable case. The various models cover all of the cellular bands.

Pinyon Technologies announced its AirWire WiMAX Tri-band antenna that covers all of the licensed spectrum profiles for WiMAX enabling OEM manufacturers to outfit their CPE for any WiMAX market around the world with the same antenna. These antennas provide polar diversity, adding an additional degree of antenna diversity to a wireless system equipped with MIMO spatial diversity.

Nera Networks announced its Evolution Series XPAND IP product at the show. The XPAND IP platform is a 1.6Gbps system with native Ethernet packet support and Ethernet features including quality of service (QoS) support up to layer 3, and packet synchronization support via Sync Ethernet and IEEE 1588v2. The system features an aggregation node capability that can combine up to eight 400 Mbps Ethernet links for a total throughput of 1.6Gbps. The aggregation node feature also supports both OC-3 (155Mbps) SONET links and T1 connections, allowing the carrier to flexibly hand off transmission to an existing optical network from a base station aggregation network. Nera claims its one of the few microwave systems manufacturers with the ability for long haul transmission up to 70 miles.

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