At a Keysight Technologies press conference held at EDI CON China on April 15, which was aimed primarily at the Chinese press Liz Ruetsch, Keysight Technologies strategic marketing manager, based in Beijing, China, focused on the development of 5G technologies.

Armed with facts and enthusiasm from attending the EDI CON China 5G Forum, and in particular the Plenary talks given by Dr. Zhengang Pan from the China Mobile Research Institute and Hai Wang, head of Ericsson’s China Radio Research Lab she began, “During the 5G Forum China Mobile reported that in 2014 the company’s data traffic through the network went up by 113 percent. So, basically the amount of data through the network more than doubled in just one year."

She continued, “Back in 2012 China Mobile quoted that their power bill for the year was $950 million. You might think a lot of that power was to drive the transmission but more than half of that power is just for air conditioning to cool the equipment and cool the base stations.This morning in the China Mobile presentation they said their goal is to drive down their energy bill by a factor of ten in the next ten years. So, if it’s close to a billion dollars today in ten years time they want it to be $100 million. So, there needs to be a dramatic change in how we manage the power and the operations cost of the network. To put that into perspective the power consumption of China Mobile’s network today is actually more than the annual power consumption for the entire island of Taiwan.”

With regards to prospective 5G networks Ruetsch stated, “For dense areas the approach will be small cells. You might have noticed that as you entered the CNCC [China National Convention Center] today China Mobile had set up a portable base station with two different antenna arrays. They are trying to make sure that everybody attending the conferences and exhibitions in the building has coverage. So the first thing is small cells and the second is the achievement of fast speeds through millimeter-wave links – very highly directional antennas. The third thing you are going to see is everything communicating. So, whereas in the past the base station might communicate with the cell phone, in the future the base station might communicate to a small cell that is built into the roof of your car. And that communicates with your kid’s ipads or your Bluetooth headset or your collision avoidance system etc...and, last but not least the core network has to make some changes so that all of the backbone, infrastructure and fiber needs to be upgraded.”

Considering how this can be achieved Ruetsch continued, “The engineering challenges have to be solved using enabling technologies. Keysight plays a role in RF, microwave, millimeter-wave, Terahertz, optical – the company covers the whole spectrum with its portfolio. We also have solutions for single channel as well as MIMO, or multi-channel solutions thanks to our modular products. Fundamentally you are going to have higher frequencies, multi-channels and different physical layers – different modulation schemes – to solve these practical challenges.”

Explaining further Ruetsch added, “Typically infrastructure leads – you need to build the network first then the devices follow. Just like for TD-LTE and FD-LTE the network came first and then the devices followed. So a lot of the challenges are on the devices side that will have to support these new waveforms as well as legacy waveforms for 4G, WiFi etc. There will be some additional challenges such as full-duplex where you are transmitting and receiving on the same frequency.”

Highlighting Keysight’s development activities she said, “Keysight is a company that likes to be first. We aim to be first in the market and ahead of our customers’ needs. So, back in October [2014] we introduced the world’s fist 5G Baseband Exploration Library. At first introduction we supported three new modulation schemes – FBMC, GFDM and NOMA. We support full duplex, massive MIMO with full beamforming as well as at millimeter-wave frequencies. This is within our SystemVue toolset.”

Emphasizing that software is the basis for the company’s channel modeling and channel sounding solutions Ruetsch invited the press to see 5G demos of some of these products on the Keysight booth before outlining the company’s current activities in China.

She said, “What we have been working on specifically in Beijing is the channel sounding solution that is multi-channel in nature and is currently operating to 28 GHz. I like to describe this system as not just ‘Made in China but designed in China’ by our Keysight Labs engineering team. So, our channel sounding solution and channel modeling solution is really designed for customers who are trying to look at how signals are being propagated at millimeter-wave with these new physical layer modulation schemes. There are other areas that we need to look at as well. One of these is massive MIMO, which we have started to do with formats such as LTE-Advanced.”

Ruetsch then showed a graphic of a system that had been sold to a customer in China, which is 8x8 MIMO, 6 GHz and 160 MHz per channel, commenting: “Eight channels does not sound much when customers are talking about 64 and 128 and others are talking about hundreds of channels.”

Showing some examples of systems Keysight had built including a 64 channel system for receiving and 16 channel system for stimulus she stated, “These are for different applications and we are familiar with these technologies not just from wireless but also from our aerospace defense experience. These systems are phase coherent systems too.”

Offering an overview she said, “I firmly believe that Keysight is the best company and the best partner for 5G for three reasons. First is; some companies have RF but they don’t have digital or they don’t have optical or they don’t have wireline but we do. Some companies have RF and microwave but they don’t have modular – they are single-channel solutions. Some companies have as many channels as you could ever want but they are not necessarily RF, microwave or millimeter-wave experts. It is a combination of having an RF and microwave focus together with a wireline focus that is needed for 5G. You need all of these technologies to solve customers’ problems."

“In conclusion – we have got the right products. I think we have the right people and we have great connections with customers. Our key message of the show and for Keysight going forward is that hardware and software in equal measure leads to insights. I think we have done a nice job in 5G in cooperation with real customers, not just by ourselves.”

To view the Keysight 5G channel sounding video with Chinese subtitles visit: