5G, IoT pose new challenges to testing

June 14, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
5G, IoT pose new challenges to testing
With test automation being a burning issue, 5G radio networks in the transition from the embryonic to the fetal phase and the Internet of Things taking shape, manufacturers of test equipment are active in a terrain mined with technology decisions that need to be taken but many uncertainties as to which direction the markets will develop. EE Times Europe discussed these issues with Jonathan Borrill, Director of Market Strategy at RF test technology provider Anritsu.

eeNews Europe: Which are currently the hottest technology trends in RF for your business?

Jonathan Borrill: There are two important trends. In the mobile phone communications business we see that handsets and networks are having more and more radio bands. This raises the requirements to RF technology and components in terms of bandwidth, efficiency, multiband designs, antennas, multiband amplifiers - you name it. In this context, the use of MIMO is going to spread - all LTE handsets today are using MIMO, and we think that about 70% of all new smartphones are LTE-enabled. These handsets transmit and receive in some 14, 15 different radio bands - plus Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, FM radio and NFC. This leads to very complex RF designs in a handset. We have to test all the bands and their combinations and which is the real challenge - the interferences between the different bands. Testing each band individually is a very straightforward approach; it is the interactions between the different bands that make the whole thing complex.

Another challenge is the testing efforts. For the design engineer this can mean weeks of testing - he needs to know with effects like intermodulation between adjacent frequency bands and similar things come into effect. Testing up to 14 frequency bands plus their interaction takes more time than just testing 14 frequency bands. And yes, there are physical limits - it takes a certain time to sweep across the spectrum. But our customers can't afford to increase the testing time so much. It has to be faster, cheaper. Nevertheless, it can take maybe two weeks to put a handset through the entire certification.

eeNews Europe: Two weeks for every single mobile phone?

Borrill: No, this is refers to the design testing. On the production line it is different. There you only test the actual manufacturing process. On the production line the test takes 20 seconds.

eeNews Europe: How does the

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