Mobile World Congress isn't just for phones anymore. Test keeps making a stronger presence each year.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 featured a wide range of technologies, all of which must be tested. There were numerous announcements for test equipment, demonstrations, and collaborations last week in Barcelona.
Rohde & Schwarz made several key announcements at MWC. The company demonstrated what it claimed was the world's first test setup for 2-Gbit/s data transfer over LTE. The set used the R&S CMWflexx test setup (see photo) and a UeSIM multiterminal simulator from Prisma Telecom Testing. Such a demonstration shows how LTE can gain some extra bandwidth, helping to meet demand until 5G rolls out.
The CMWfless test setup was used to demonstrate a 2-Gbit/s LTE wireless link. Source: Rohde & Schwarz.
Speaking of 5G, it's coming and test equipment is needed to help engineers characterize signals with ever-increasing bandwidths. To that end, Rohde & Schwarz announced that it's expanded the internal signal-analysis bandwidth of its FSW43 and FSW50 spectrum analyzers to 1.2 GHz with the FSW-B1200 option.
In keeping with the development of 5G, R&S announced that it has signed an agreement with MediaTek of Taiwan to develop mmwave technology for 5G radio access and over-the-air (OTA) testing concepts for massive MIMO antenna arrays. The goal is to develop a proof-of-concept system that operates at 28 GHz.
These days, no technology announcement avoids mentioning Internet of Things (IoT) and many IoT devices need to connect to the cellular network to send and receive data. R&S announced that the company has been working with Qualcomm to verify operation of the MDM9206 global Cat M1/Cat NB-1 dual-mode LTE modem for use with Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT). R&S has developed the CMW-KM300 NB-IoT Tx-Measurement personality for these tests, which run on the company's CMW Wideband Radio Communications Tester.
There's more from MWC regarding NB-IoT. Spirent Communications, maker of test equipment for wired and wireless communications, announced a collaboration with Brocade. In an announcement on March 1st, the companies completed testing that highlighted 3GPP-compliant NB-IoT products. These tests show that 3GPP has not "lost its way" regarding IoT, as EE Times reported in 2015. The tests used Spirent's Landslide virtual test agent to verify the functionality of Brocade's Virtual Core for Mobile Software.
Spirent has also been working with Nokia. At MWC, the companies announced deployment of the first 5G Lab as a Service (LaaS) for Nokia’s Oulu-based network infrastructure testing labs. This "service" consists of layer 1 optical and RF switches, layer 2 virtual switches, power control units, and test-management software. The switches and software let Nokia engineers automate testing of 5G devices by automating the setup and teardown of tests through selection of test cables in test beds.
Besides hosting test equipment and technology demonstrations, MWC had components. Menlo Micro announced what it calls a Digital Micro Switch (DMS) series of high-speed switches. The company, which grew out of General Electric, developed these tiny RF switches that boast RONCOFF times of less than 50 fsec. The company claims that it will reduce that time to 10 fsec in 2018.
Menlo Micro announced high-speed RF micro switches at MWC 2017. Source: Menlo Micro.
—Martin Rowe covers test and measurement for EE Times and EDN. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org