Marking the trends and Keysight’s prudence in the quadrupling wireless test segment, Sandeep Kapoor, Regional Marketing Head – EMEIA and India enlightens Niloy Banerjee on the market principles, the spectrums and how Keysight is keeping the tempo exhilarating through their solutions. Edited Nub.
1. What are the trends shaping the wireless test?
While 5G standards are advancing, it is marking a new turning point in how the low-latency wireless networks and ultra-reliable networks are going to be tested and prototyped. Higher data rates, lower latency, component miniaturization, wideband signals are primarily driving the 5G design ecosystem. This will, in turn, lead to unique channel measurement demands.
The major trends driving wireless testing are:
Software-defined testing: T&M industry earlier relied on hardware-centric benchtop instruments. Currently, it is more inclined towards a software-defined approach. The software-defined approach helps create efficient test kits comprising of highly complex RF designs for 5G test suites. It helps engineers develop multiple test programs for 5G technologies and standards. Test kits can further adopt 5G specifications faster through software and accelerate 5G deployment. The software-defined approach also helps in upcoming 5G challenges by future-proof test programs.
Over-the-air testing: Ongoing shift in wireless testing is the adoption of OTA test methodology, instead of attached the device under test using cable. 5G designs, in addition, are adopting techniques like system-in-packaging and taking it to a whole new level. In 5G context, OTA testing encompasses challenges such as handling components like wireless transceivers, power amplifiers, antenna modules, etc.
System-level approach: While software usage is increasing for wireless testing, hardware element does not completely prelude. Combination of both software and hardware help in prototyping 5G standards like NB-IoT and eMTC. To manage complex antenna architectures and multi-channel RF designs, a system level approach is critical. As standards are evolving, combination of services, software and instrument can help tackle challenges from different parts of the workflow.
2. With advanced and complex technologies like IoT, 5G is keeping the market ebullient. How wireless testing instruments evolve to cap the trend?
Coexistence is essential for stable, reliable communication in the Internet of Things (IoT). Without coexistence, IoT devices cannot be counted on, to operate as intended in crowded wireless environments. Your device may be unable to detect other IoT devices or cooperatively share the airwaves and may behave in unexpected or even dangerous ways. It is challenging to ensure IoT device coexistence. You cannot have a high degree of confidence about coexistence unless you take appropriate actions during the design process. The single most important action you can take is to perform coexistence testing. This helps determine device’s tolerance to other radio signals and characterizes its behavior in the presence of alternate radio protocols. Coexistence testing is the only way to accurately evaluate the device’s ability to maintain its functional wireless performance (FWP) in the presence of intended and unintended (interfering) signals.
3. Versatility, diversification while keeping the time-to-market window in mind, how challenging has this market become and what strategies does your company comply?
There are three principal areas that can deliver faster time to market and improved efficiency in product development. Firstly, using a product development process. If you do not have a defined product development process, this is an obvious place to start. The challenge is establishing a process that fits your organization’s business model and culture so that it really gets used. Remember, this is all about managing the risk in the project.
Secondly, adopt a set of software tools that effectively manage your product development data. Reduce the amount of time your engineers are spending on just managing data, which may be as high as 20%. Eliminate wasted effort by sharing the design/ test/measurement data easily across the organization. Ensure your system is low maintenance and easy-to-use otherwise the hidden costs creep back in. Adopt open system components to maintain flexibility, easy data import/export and portability.
Lastly, use insight from the data to shorten the innovation cycle. Significant improvements can be made by shortening each phase of product development and the hand-offs between each phase, but the bigger payoff is likely to come from skipping entire design/prototype cycles. This payoff comes from applying data analytics across the product development cycle. A key factor here is establishing continuity and consistency between the tools used in the lifecycle so that design decisions and physical reality match. Maintaining and improving that match enables better design decisions, shortening the innovation cycle.
4. Traditionally, RF experts used expensive equipment hence selected organizations used to buy high-end instruments. Given the demand of the market, do u think low-end signal analyzers can be availed with same specs and features for mass under buyable bracket?
Keysight technologies has always ensured that its electronic instrumentation solution reaches various categories of users, whether it is simulation & modelling, design, validation, conformance testing, verification, manufacturing, installation & maintenance, repair etc…. In this direction, Keysight has come up with different form factors to suit the aforementioned needs as well as suitable price points. Whether it is deep dive R & D, design etc… or Go-No Go manufacturing test, Keysight has appropriate solutions to cater to customer needs.
5. 5G in the sub-6GHz spectrum will employ signals that use 100 MHz or 200 MHz of spectrum, compared to only 20 MHz in 4G LTE systems. Hence, need of new calibration techniques will be needed. What are your takes to it?
Spectrum is a key enabler for 5G New Radio (NR) data throughput and capacity gains. However, it is not as simple as just adding new operating bands. Operating bands at different frequencies can experience interference issues, especially in the mid- and high-bands, that can affect the ability to provide peaceful coexistence with neighboring bands. Adding 5G, NR to an already crowded and congested spectrum increases the potential for interference.
5G NR needs to coexist with LTE, in adjacent bands and sometimes within the same frequency bands. 5G NR bandwidth parts (BWP) enable LTE and 5G NR signals to have a carrier, introducing new challenges with interference due to closely spaced and sometimes overlapping signals. Techniques such as licensed-assisted access (LAA) enable use of unlicensed spectrum through the aggregation of a secondary channel.
Performance of a device transmitter at the edge of the band and outside the band can cause interference with other wireless communications systems. In-band and out-of-band emissions must be understood to minimize interference within the band and in adjacent frequency bands. It is very important to evaluate unwanted emissions from harmonics, intermodulation spurs, and spectral regrowth to understand how the 5G NR signal will interact with other radio signals.
6. For mmWave, test economics must improve in order to scale mmWave technology from small volume applications to mainstream (high volume) consumer applications. Your focus into mmWave testing technologies.
Mobile operators around the world are accelerating 5G deployments to capture early market opportunities. As a result, wireless equipment manufacturers need to support a more rapid pace of development while addressing evolving 5G New Radio (NR) specifications. Most 5G mobile devices operating in mmWave frequency spectrum rely on modules with highly integrated RFIC architectures. This requires new 5G designs to be verified across both intermediate frequencies (IF) and mmWave frequencies. Since 5G mmWave devices use phased-array antennas that lack connectorized ports, performance validation needs to take place in Over-the-Air (OTA) test environments. Creating and maintaining a calibrated system when using multiple platforms to perform measurements in OTA test environments can be challenging and lead to unreliable measurement results.
Keysight’s mmWave 5G non-signaling solution enables validation of a broad range of 5G modules in OTA test environments. Its single wideband transceiver (E7760B) and remote radio head (M1740A) provide tunable access across four mmWave frequency bands. Our solutions span the entire 5G workflow. The E7760B wideband transceiver and M1740A mmWave transceiver for 5G are one solution of the mmWave 5G solutions. They tests 5G module performance over any 3GPP-defined mmWave bands with a single remote radio head, re-uses remote radio heads across multiple Keysight measurement solutions and reduces system complexity with a single compact solution covering IF and multiple mmWave bands for both transmit and receive paths.
The M1740A mmWave transceiver for 5G is a versatile remote radio head covering multiple frequency bands. It is used as a key component of several Keysight 5G solutions to test at mmWave frequencies. Two mmWave ports provide transmit and receive paths between the device under test and the test and measurement equipment in the solution. It supports all 3GPP specified 28 GHz, 39 GHz, and 40 GHz bands in FR2.
E77607 wideband transceiver helps generate simultaneous signal generation and analyses independent frequency and power. It has two bi-directional IF ports and six RF ports for multiple device testing.
7. Lastly, your dominance in the wireless testing space, one key product and your comments, respectively.
Keysight Technologies Wireless test platform UXM (E7515B) is one of its kind 5G test solution which offers end-to-end test in the 5G technology space among others. Keysight’s 5G Solutions enable 5G device ecosystem to accelerate from development to deployment. Solutions span and connect the entire device workflow from R&D and design validation, to conformance verification, carrier acceptance and manufacturing. Integrated software-centric approach, with a common scripting engine, 5G stack and advanced analysis tools allows users to eliminate disconnected workflows across the device ecosystem and between teams to achieve more cost-efficient test methods. Exploit a high level of flexibility and control to fast-track test case creation and gain deeper insights from your analysis processes. This ensures complete dominance in the 5G space with full test suite. In addition to this, with marriage of High speed digital test & RFuW and Wireless technologies, Keysight Technologies high bandwidth oscilloscopes like the UXR, among others, help users facilitate test with high speed digital equipment in the wireless space.