Microwave Journal

MWC 2012: Test Solution Wrap-up


March 14, 2012

Leading RF/microwave test equipment manufacturers were on hand at the2012 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona between February 27 and March 1, ashowing off the latest test solutions for the mobile communications industry. Here's a sample of what they had on display.

Aeroflex Limited claims that the TM500 LTE Test Mobile is the first test mobile to emulate LTE Category 5 user equipment, allowing operators to verify the operation of their networks and equipment vendors to prove the performance of their eNodeB (LTE base stations) at the higher data rates that are enabled by Cat5 handsets and terminals.

Cat5 is a classification for LTE UEs that provides enhanced data rates for both UL and DL. Using a 20 MHz bandwidth and FDD under good channel conditions, a data rate of 300 Mbps is available in the downlink, due to the addition of support for 4x4 MIMO. In the uplink the data rate is boosted to 75 Mbps by taking advantage of 64QAM modulation in addition to the earlier QPSK and 16QAM. Cat5 also introduces limited buffer rate matching in the DL, which confines the memory requirements allowing for cost effective handsets.

The TM500 Test Mobile now provides demodulation and decoding of downlink signals transmitted in 4x4 MIMO, and transmission of uplink signals modulated using 64QAM, in support of these higher LTE data rates. It can also be used in stress test cases at an early stage in the development of Cat5, where one or two of the TM500 units are used in an attempt to utilize all the eNodeB resources while other handsets or UE are also required to be served.

Agilent Technologies announced the new E6703H W-CDMA/HSPA lab application that includes support for 42 Mbps DC-HSDPA test modes and IP data connections. The application uses the recently introduced high-performance E5515E 8960 Series 10 wireless communications test set, which delivers sustained, end-to-end IP data throughput at 42 Mbps, flexible and comprehensive RF measurements, and improved hardware capability for future requirements, making it easy and fast to stress wireless devices and verify their performance at full data rates. The E5515E also enables LTE developers to extensively test the performance of their device’s LTE-to-2G/3G handover, when used in conjunction with the Agilent E6621A PXT wireless test set.

The company also announced that Bluetest AB now supports its PXI wireless communications test set. The Bluetest Reverberation Test System (RTS), which uses the Agilent PXT test set to evaluate LTE devices over the air is an accurate and cost-effective reverberation test system used to verify wireless devices and small antennas over the air.

Bluetest enables the user to perform MIMO OTA tests in an isotropic multipath environment and offers measurement options for all cellular standards and many other wireless communication protocols. The Agilent PXT wireless communication test set incorporates flexible base station/network emulation and RF parametric tests into one integrated unit and the PXT hardware is configurable with a number of advanced test and analysis software options.

Exhibition floor demonstrations included: Performing RF and parametric tests to the latest standards for LTE and LTE-Advanced using the company’s LTE & LTE-Advanced signal-generation and analysis tools such as 89600 VSA software, X-Series signal analyzers (including the N9030A PXA and the N9020A MXA), SystemVue and Signal Studio software; the ability to look at up to eight measurement channels for TD-LTE base station RF antenna beamforming with the N7109A multichannel signal analyzer; and addressed the challenges of multi-standard radio per 3GPP Release 9 with the N9083A MSR X-Series measurement application operating on Agilent X-Series signal analyzers, including the N9030A PXA and the N9020A MXA.

The MG3710A signal generator from Anritsu boasts unique new measurement techniques that support the latest wireless transmission standards, enabling RF designers to verify that their products are able to meet the challenges of next generation wireless technology. Features include ‘waveform combining’ to enable an engineer to quickly create more complex signal combinations from libraries of signals, and the dual RF capability that addresses the future needs of Carrier Aggregation and multi-carrier transmissions that are being developed for higher speed data links. The architecture allows for multiple units to be locked together in RF phase and signal clock, enabling the effective and simple implementation of test systems for high order MIMO configurations that are currently in development (e.g. 8x8 MIMO).

The company also announced that it has demonstrated the first laboratory simulation of Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) using its Rapid Test Designer (RTD) protocol development solution. The demonstration showed that a VoLTE call connected with an Anritsu MD8430A LTE signalling tester and RADVISION PROLAB IMS server can be transferred to a circuit switched voice connection with an Anritsu MD8480C WCDMA signalling tester. This capability provides developers of leading edge LTE smartphones with a comprehensive solution for testing voice calls and handovers between LTE and other radio technologies. Another demonstration involved using the current MD8430A platform to make calls with LTE-Advanced (Rel.10) technology and data rates in a multi-vendor test development environment.

Nujira Ltd. launched a new handset RF power amplifier characterisation system, the NCT-T9102, targeted at OEMs, chipset suppliers and PA vendors wishing to measure the performance of Envelope Tracking RF PAs for low power applications. The test system can be used to characterize existing PAs and also to develop future ET-optimized PA devices. OEMs and platform chipset vendors wishing to compare and contrast ET PAs from different vendors can also benefit from the capabilities of the characterization system.

The NCT-T9102 system features a high bandwidth, low impedance dynamic supply modulator with a power supply bandwidth in excess of 60 MHz, incorporating accurate measurement of dynamic PA efficiency. The supplied software provides real time displays of the AM/AM and AM/PM distortions in the amplifier as well as the resultant spectrum and efficiency profile. The hardware includes an IQ modulated transmitter and two complex receivers, covering the 650-2700 MHz frequency range. The system includes a selection of predefined WCDMA and LTE waveforms, as defined by the OpenET Alliance and enables development of the shaping table function which maps RF level to PA supply voltage.

The latest Rohde & Schwarz test solution for LTE is based on the R&S CMW500 wideband radio communication tester with new options, which emulates an LTE network and the R&S UPV audio analyzer that assesses the voice transmission and voice quality of the LTE user equipment according to an objective set of test criteria. The analyzer uses a state-of-the-art perceptual objective listening quality analysis (POLQA) measurement algorithm to perform this task. The solution also tests whether the LTE user equipment can signal a voice call and how it performs under realistic network conditions. The R&S CMW-KAF10 option, which is designed for carrying out conformance tests, is particularly aimed at equipment developers who deal with the relevant R&D scenarios for VoLTE. The company also offers test cases for text messaging (SMS) services over LTE.

In a different sector the company announced that its audio/video test platform is available in two models: the R&S VTE video tester and the R&S VTS compact video tester. Both products come with an MHL test module. MHL allows HD video and audio content, such as available over LTE, to be transmitted from a smartphone or tablet PC to an HD TV. The R&S VTE is a modular, expandable platform for testing video and audio interfaces in development and quality assurance, and features state-of-the-art touch screen operation. It is is an all-round, compact 3 HU, 1/2 19" instrument, while the lower-priced R&S VTS is only 1 HU high for optimum integration into test setups, with applications in production. Both products have a built-in computer, eliminating the need for an external PC.

Another product of note is the R&S TS8980LBS that allows users to be confident that location-based services such as LTE positioning protocol (LPP) work properly during network operation. Manufacturers of mobile wireless devices and components can now perform preconfigured conformance tests such as SUPL2.0 in compliance with the standards defined by GCF and PTCRB. In addition, the R&S TS8980LBS can perform protocol tests and specific network operator test cases that combine data transmission tests and position location, for example.

Spirent Communications announced that the Spirent CS8 Wireless Device Design Tester now offers a configurable IMS implementation to aid in the development of mobile devices and chipsets. Testing with this new functionality enables mobile device designers to bring products to market that deliver IMS-based services such as VoLTE, presence-based instant messaging, video messaging, desktop sharing and new location-based services, faster and with fewer issues. By offering complete flexibility in IMS configuration, the Spirent CS8 allows an engineer to replicate specific network implementations during the design phase, with the advantage that issues can be identified and addressed in the development lab, which in turn has a direct effect on time to market.

The company also focused on the addition of Wi-Fi Offload Gateway testing capability to its Spirent Landslide solution. This solution tests the performance of Wi-Fi Offload Gateways which handle offloading of data from sources such as Over-The-Top video, as well as traditional services such as voice calling and SMS, from a 3G/4G/LTE cellular network to a WiFi network. Capable of emulating thousands of access points and millions of users, as well as mobile applications and the 2G/3G/4G core network, the Wi-Fi offload testing capability on Spirent Landslide supports the testing of authentication, inter/intra Access Point Mobility and cellular-to-Wi-Fi network mobility at scale under real-world conditions.

Spirent has also added a new mobile application performance monitoring capability to its Spirent TestCenter™ Live next-generation service assurance solution. The new capability monitors application performance, from the mobile devices on the Radio Access Network (RAN) through the mobile backhaul into the application server/gateway in the mobile packet core. This allows operators to actively monitor availability and performance metrics including download speeds of web pages, on-line gaming, VoIP, SMS and other applications.

Link to Photo Gallery from the show.

Link to Video Gallery from the show.