The microwave industry is today awash with continually emerging wireless applications and technologies, many of which have the ability to dramatically alter the world in which we live.

While the eventual outcome of those opportunities remains unclear, one thing is certain: our engineering colleagues are now facing a very complex and challenging world. Wireless devices have, and will continue to witness dramatic increases in complexity, owing in part to the consumer demand for more functionality and a broader array of product choices.

Higher component and module integration, coupled with the rapid growth of software content, will further tax the capabilities of not only the wireless engineer, but of their measurement solutions as well.

Realizing the promise of emerging wireless technologies will require the tremendous ingenuity of our engineering colleagues. It will also require the appropriate application of measurement technology to address the challenges they now face.

In much the same way that the IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS 2007) tracks emerging industry challenges in order to offer more timely and relevant content to its attendees, Agilent Technologies closely monitors global challenges in the technologies, industries and geographies it serves. Some of the key challenges that Agilent has identified as critical issues for today’s wireless engineers include:

Long-Term Evolution (LTE)

The 3GPP LTE standard, with its support for channel bandwidths from 1.25 to 20 MHz and a headline cell data rate of 100 Mbps, has the potential to deliver sufficient bandwidth to support video services to individual users. To take advantage of this opportunity, engineers will require access to measurement solutions that can support their early design efforts. As the technology matures and user requirements become clear, those measurement solutions will need to be tuned to support the specific needs of LTE test.

Mobile WiMAX

Mobile WiMAX promises to bring broadband wireless access to the mobile masses. Its deployment strategy will likely include laptop PCs, as well as handsets and PDAs. What makes mobile WiMAX especially challenging from an engineering perspective is its support for hand-offs from one base station to another to enable continuous, or at least the appearance of continuous, connectivity for the user. This handoff creates a complex signal structure which, when coupled with the complexity of the standard itself, makes verification of device performance using optimal test equipment absolutely critical.

While there are no easy answers to overcoming the engineering challenges created by LTE and mobile WiMAX, Agilent is continually developing new and innovative measurement solutions and technologies to help customers address them. Agilent’s participation at IMS 2007 provides a key forum in which to demonstrate just how effective its measurement solutions and technology can be in addressing the challenges facing today’s engineer. Solutions like these will play a crucial role in accelerating the delivery of next-generation wireless communications networks based on LTE and mobile WiMAX.