IEEE 802.11ac is a new draft WLAN standard being integrated into devices. The manufacturing of these devices has begun and, as a result, contract manufacturers are planning for capacity. To be prepared, manufacturing test engineers need to ensure that their test equipment is capable of supporting the new 802.11ac test requirements, as well as existing and complimentary technologies. This article provides an introduction to important 802.11ac manufacturing tests, explaining what they are and how they can be conducted, all with reference to the draft specification .
802.11ac is a WLAN standard being developed by the IEEE 802.11ac Task Group (TGac) aimed at delivering very high throughput (VHT) local wireless connectivity supporting data rates up to 10 times those of WLAN 802.11n HT (high throughput) and a signal bandwidth up to 160MHz, 4 times that of 802.11n and MIMO with up to 8 streams. Chipset vendors are releasing reference designs that have an 80MHz bandwidth. The standard also provides an optional 160MHz bandwidth, and it is expected that this will be adopted over time in the same way that 802.11n evolved into more complex and effective MIMO (multiple-in, multiple-out) implementations.
Manufacturing Test Requirements
From a manufacturing test perspective, the evolution of WLAN standards is something that must be understood and planned for ahead of time. For example, with a mandatory 80MHz channel bandwidth, 802.11ac test equipment is clearly going to require wider bandwidth analysis and generation for testing devices. (Similarly, when draft 802.11n products were being produced, there was a need to deploy equipment that could adequately test the 40MHz bandwidth. For those familiar with 802.11n, 802.11ac has many similarities.)
Follow the jump directly to the article on EDN to read about the test setup, test plan, and the transmitter and receiver tests that need to be performed for 802.11ac.