For us wireless geeks, what could be better than attending the largest wireless show in the US in glitzy Las Vegas? Whether you are into broadband convergence, enterprise, advertising, social networking or entertainment, CTIA is the global marketplace for connecting Wireless and You (as their theme goes this year). With over 40,000 attendees, 1200+ exhibitors and representatives from over 125 countries, it is the premier US based wireless event. The RF and microwave industry is the basis for most of the technologies and applications that are on display at CTIA so there is always strong interest in the show. The show focuses heavily on the service providers and larger commercial electronics companies with less attention paid to the component level companies. There was a strong presence of RF and microwave companies from the test and measurement sector but there is a trend toward a reduced presence from the more component oriented companies. There is a special CTIA Pavilion planned for next year that would focus specifically on RF and microwave technology which might increase our presence at this show in the future.


The keynote host was CTIA president and CEO, Steve Largent (ex-Seahawks wide receiver) who introduced the big name speakers on the first day: Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group & Virgin Mobile; Robert Bach, president of the Entertainment & Devices Division of Microsoft; Dan Hesse, president and CTO of Sprint Nextel; and Lowell McAdam, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless. The second day was no let down either with keynotes including Marco Boerries, president of Yahoo! Mobile and Arun Sarin, CEO of Vodafone plus the infrastructure roundtable with moderator Lowell McAdam and participants Patricia Russo CEO of Alcatel Lucent; Carl Henric, president and CEO of Ericsson; and Mike Zafirovski, CEO of Nortel. And the final day featured two prominent politicians, the honorable John Edwards and Fred Thompson.


The exhibition floor was sold out with all of the big wireless players represented like Microsoft, Yahoo, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Huawei, LG, Samsung, Nortel, Vodafone and Verizon. In addition, the RF and microwave suppliers were well represented with Agilent, Rohde & Schwarz, Anritsu, Andrew, etc. I thought LG had the slickest booth with silver manikins holding up their glass tables, great tunes and lots of plasmas.

Visiting some of the RF and microwave company booths and company representatives, here are some selected new products, highlights and news items:

Agilent Technologies Inc. and NextWave Wireless Inc., a global provider of mobile multimedia and wireless broadband technologies, announced that NextWave will use Agilent’s Wireless Networking Test Set to help accelerate the deployment of Mobile WiMAX devices based on NextWave’s chipsets. The two companies will collaborate to optimize the speed of RF power-calibration and production-test capabilities for customers designing Mobile WiMAX products based on NextWave’s recently announced NW2000 chipset. Agilent Technologies also announced six new models for its W1314A measurement receiver platform that offer expanded band coverage. They are designed to simultaneously measure all wireless technologies in all RF bands in a given market using a single unit. The Agilent receivers enable network equipment manufacturers and wireless operators' RF engineering teams to effectively deploy, optimize and troubleshoot all technologies in their own networks by quickly identifying coverage and interference problems.

Anadigics did not have a booth but announced its new AWT6309 linear power amplifier (PA) designed specifically for use in CDMA wireless handsets and data devices that operate in the 1.7 GHz bands. The new PA is designed to be compatible with Qualcomm CDMA2000™ and EVDO™ chipsets. The AWT6309 reduces average current consumption as much as 50%, compared to conventional two-stage amplifiers. The PA has a high efficiency of 41% at +28 dBm output and 22% at + 17 dBm, a low quiescent current of 14 mA, low leakage current in shutdown mode and internal voltage regulation.

Andrew Wireless Solutions, the CommScope Inc. division that is a global leader in communications systems and products, announced that they have expanded the availability of its next generation universal connectors. These connectors fit both corrugated and smoothwall cables for wireless networks and they introduced a new hand-prep tool that makes installation simpler and more economical. Andrew Wireless Solutions also introduced the OneBase InSite™ product family, which enables wireless operators to monitor cell sites remotely for performance degradation before it affects network integrity.

Anritsu introduced three new software packages for its MS269XA signal analyzer series that create a powerful tool to support fast and easy evaluation of 3GPP LTE uplink and downlink signals. Taking full advantage of the MS269XA Series' total level and modulation accuracy over the bandwidth from 50 kHz to 6 GHz, the MX269020A LTE downlink measurement software, MX269021A LTE uplink measurement software, and MS269908A LTE IQproducer™ help ensure compliance of LTE devices and demonstrate Anritsu’s commitment to the successful deployment of next-generation mobile phone systems.

Berkeley Varitronics Systems, a supplier of wireless test devices, released a complete WiMAX pre-deployment testing solution that includes a stimulus transmitter, modular receiver, handheld power meter and a complete drive-study PC software package.

Ceragon Networks Ltd., a leading provider of high capacity wireless backhaul solutions, announced a new family of carrier-grade wireless Ethernet platforms that combine advanced IP and TDM networking to enable risk free migration with the highest possible capacities at the lowest overall cost. The new, versatile FiberAir-10 family offers a wide capacity range of 10 to 500 Mbps over one radio carrier, using a single RF unit, across the licensed frequency spectrum from 6 to 38 GHz.

Dragonwave Inc., a leading global supplier of next-generation wireless networks, announced that it has expanded its coverage to include the 6 to 8 GHz range of licensed radio frequencies. This enhanced frequency coverage on the Horizon Compact product dramatically improves DragonWave’s relevance as a provider of wireless backhaul solutions for a variety of geographic markets around the world.

Elektrobit, a developer of cutting-edge embedded technology solutions for automotive and wireless markets, showcased new reference device form factors for integrated Satellite-Terrestrial communications, highlighted its recently announced Mobile WiMAX smartphone reference design and had on display its Mobile Internet Multimedia Device.

Ethertronics Inc., a leading provider of standard and customized embedded antenna solutions for wideband and multi-band wireless devices, introduced two new miniaturized ceramic antennas: an innovative GPS/Bluetooth version and a GPS antenna, which provides the industry’s highest levels of efficiency while minimizing ground clearance and component “keep out” areas. Designed to address the challenges associated with incorporating multiple RF-functions into mobile devices, both antennas include Ethertronics’ patented Isolated Magnetic Dipole™ (IMD) technology.

Just prior to the show, ETS-Lindgren announced the launch of a new open boundary quad-ridged horn antenna, Model 3164-08, designed to meet the demands of UWB, GSM, PCS, Wi-Fi and WiMAX testing. Notable features include excellent gain over the frequency range with low VSWR.

Harris Stratex Networks, the leading independent supplier of turnkey wireless transmission solutions, introduced its newest digital microwave radio, the TRuepoint® 6400, developed to provide medium- to high-capacity, multiservice TDM and Ethernet/IP wireless transport. The new TRuepoint 6400 is designed for all-indoor configurations for backhaul and trunking of mobile, public safety, utility and local/state government networks. It supports software-scalable, mixed-mode transport of NxDS1, NxDS3, OC-3/SONET and Ethernet data. Radio frequency coverage includes 6 GHz, 7/8 GHz, 10 GHz and 11 GHz FCC and NTIA frequency bands, as well as the 5.8 GHz UNII unlicensed band.

Infineon did not have a booth but announced two new LDMOS RF power transistors targeting wireless infrastructure applications, such as WiMAX, in the 2.5 to 2.7 GHz frequency band. The PTFA260851E/F 85 W FET features 14 dB gain (typical) and 22 percent efficiency (typical) at 16 W average output power, under WiMAX signal conditions. The PTFA261702E 170 W FET features 15 dB gain (typical) and 20 percent efficiency at 32 W average output power, under WiMAX signal conditions. Infineon’s PTFA261702E is rated at 170 W (P1 dB), the industry’s highest peak output power in the 2.5 to 2.7 GHz band. The device can also be used in a push-pull configuration for extended bandwidth performance.

KMW Communications, Fullerton CA, showed off their state-of-the-art wireless infrastructure technology and solutions. This includes DualPhase® (remote downtilt and azimuth sbeam steering) and TriPhase™ (remote downtilt, azimuth beam steering and selectable beam width) programmable antennas. In addition, DualPhase® EyeOnTenna (EOT) (optic and sensor Programmable Antenna) TTLNAs, TMAs, filters, amplifiers, and Management Systems were exhibited and demonstrated. The programmable antennas and systems are designed for US and International frequencies such as PCS (1850-1990 MHz), AWS (1710 – 2170 MHz) 800/900 MHz, 700MHz, and WiMAX (2.5, 2.3, 2.4, 5.x and 3.5 GHz).

Mitec Telecom, a leading designer and provider of RF products for the telecommunications and satellite communications industries, announced that it has received a third order from a major cellular network operator in Africa to provide its Very Small Aperture Satellite Terminal component, known as the VSAT Block upconverter.

Powerwave Technologies Inc., a global source for end-to-end wireless infrastructure solutions, displayed a prototype of its new 700 MHz multi-carrier power amplifier (MCPA) platform. Offering high efficiency performance and low power consumption, the 700 MHz MCPA is a cost effective solution for extending the coverage or increasing the capacity of wireless base stations. The products’ instantaneous bandwidth of 30 MHz can be tuned to operate anywhere within the upper or lower 700 MHz band allocation, and offers typical output power of up to 135 Watts.

PulseWave RF Inc. announced sample availability dates for two new digital multi-carrier power amplifier (MCPA) modules, which provide unparalleled combination of performance and integration. Samples of the PulseWave RF Class M™ Power PW8100 and PW21200 modules will be available in April and July 2008 respectively. The PulseWave RF Class M Power is a breakthrough technology that digitizes RF signals and linearizes them in the digital domain utilizing real-time feedback. In addition to reducing a typical amplifier form factor by greater than 50 percent, this digital architecture will enable an average amplifier level efficiency of 25 percent, while reducing overall costs.

RADWIN, a leading provider of innovative broadband wireless solutions, announced its upcoming, high-capacity sub-6 GHz radio system, the RADWIN 2000, addressing the backhaul needs of today’s and tomorrow’s networks (3G, 4G, WiMAX). The high-capacity, long-reach RADWIN 2000 offers 50 Mbps full-duplex net throughput, with up to 16 T1s/E1s. Built on RADWIN’s proprietary air interface together with advanced Space Diversity and MIMO and OFDM technologies, it delivers optimal performance and unmatched robustness in all environments.

Radio Frequency Systems (RFS), unveiled a new suite of ferrite isolators and circulators at the show. Specially engineered to enhance stability, performance and reliability of RF systems, over 2000 different RFS Ferrocom ferrite devices are available for easy integration into a wide range of commercial mobile and public safety base stations, plus RF and microwave systems.

Rohde and Schwarz displayed a wide array of test and measurement solutions including its signal generators and analyzers that provide highly flexible solutions for 3GPP LTE by means of software options. Also on display was the R & S CMW500 that delivers benefits to chipset and wireless device manufacturers in every phase of UMTS LTE-compliant protocol development when used as an LTE protocol tester. R & S also showed the first all-in-one solution for the production of WiMAX mobile stations. Launched in 2007, the R & S CMW270 WiMAX communication tester offers the capability to emulate a base station (signalling mode). R & S also offers a worldwide unique solution for generating MIMO signals. The high-end R & S SMU200A RF signal generator as well as the AMU200A baseband generator and fading simulator combine everything that is required for 2x2 MIMO tests with one instrument. R & S added channel coding and MIMO precoding for up to four transmit antennas to its industry-leading signal generators for 3GPP LTE (uplink and downlink). R & S announced that it is the first T & M equipment manufacturer worldwide to deliver a signal generator solution for HSPA+. A new software option handles comprehensive physical layer tests on HSPA+ receivers, baseband modules, and RF frontends (including MIMO tests). With a new software option, manufacturers of mobile devices with built-in GPS receivers can simulate and test all GPS scenarios and conformance test cases defined by the A-GPS (assisted GPS) protocol. The option is available for the SMU200A and SMATE200A vector signal generators as well as for the AMU200A baseband signal generator.

Summitek Instruments, the industry leader in Passive Intermodulation Analyzers, featured their interconnect quality analyzer that is compact and portable unit for evaluating RF infrastructure quality. The test set emulates a basestation radio by providing 20 W output signals at fixed frequencies and measures the reverse/reflected IM signal level to determine whether the infrastructure is of high construction quality that will not degrade network performance.

Symmetricom Inc., a worldwide leader in precise time and frequency technologies that accelerate the deployment and enable the management of next generation networks, announced TimeProvider™ 5000, the newest product in the company’s broad portfolio of carrier-grade, packet-based timing and frequency solutions. TimeProvider 5000 is a “purpose built” IEEE 1588 Version 2 carrier-class grandmaster clock designed to meet the most stringent timing and synchronization requirements of next generation network applications including Ethernet backhaul, circuit emulation and passive optical networks (PON).

Special Interest Pavilions

Included in the exhibition were ten different International Pavilions: Canada, two from China, Finland, Ireland, Korea, Taiwan, Spain, Sweden and the UK. These Pavilions focused on establishing strategic alliances, partnerships and investments with companies from each country plus displays that showcased a wide range of wireless capabilities coming out of that area. In addition, there were Technology Pavilions including the M2M Zone™ (machine-to-machine), Accessories, Developers, Enterprise Mobility, M-tertainment, Testing Solutions, Mobile Entertainment eXpo, VoIP and the Tower Technology Summit. The Technology Pavilions showcased the latest innovations from each area of focus. The M2M Zone was especially interesting to the RF and microwave community since it is where network operators, application designers, hardware manufacturers and end users came together to showcase wireless Machine-to-Machine communications products and services that overlap into our industry in many sectors. Next year look for a RF and microwave Pavilion starting up for the first time if enough companies show interest.

CTIA Educational Sessions

There were four educational session tracks: Mobile Blueprint, Mobile Lifestyles, Mobile “Customerization” and Public Policy. The Mobile Blueprint session focused on open networks, mobile software trends, user interfaces, 4G, security, browsers, multi-media, future handsets and reducing the improved cell sites. The Mobile Lifestyles session covered topics like usability, mobile content, pro-consumer users, social networking, mCommerce, competing in open networks, search, and infotainment. Mobile “Customer-ization” featured sessions on mobile content sales, TV/video, camera code scanning, marketing/advertising, mobile demographics, mobile internet opportunities, and location based services. The Public Policy topics included hot issues in the area, the US marketplace in relation to the global market, regulation of open networks, innovation, differences in federal and state oversight, and taxation. There were also special interest seminars that addressed the issues in the forefront of the wireless industry today ranging in topics from 4G to mobile entertainment.

Co-located Conferences

The IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference, a premier wireless event for wireless communications researchers, industry professionals, and academics, was located on site with technology/business application panels highlighting cutting edge technologies, applications, market trends, and business implications. Also included were tutorials focusing on issues and opportunities that will impact the future of wireless communications and its applications. Technical program includes nearly 600 presentations covering the best representing the best in wireless research and design.

Also on site was the Wireless Tower and Technology Summit which has been an event for the wireless infrastructure community including network engineers, RF engineers, site development pros, zoning and permitting firms, tower owners and aggregators, carriers, and suppliers of hardware, software, and services. A large section of the CTIA tradeshow floor is carved out for Tower Summit exhibits, a dedicated destination for wireless infrastructure.

The CTIA show is a great broad base wireless show to attend – don’t miss it next year!