Test and measurement is everywhere. Why? Because everything has to be tested. Test equipment and methods must adapt to changing technologies, often in parallel with a technology's development. To find out what will drive test & measurement in 2015, I asked people at several test-equipment companies. The five significant drivers of test & measurement are:
- High-speed serial buses
- Instrument interfaces
- Power integrity
You've probably noticed that everything seems to be going wireless. Thus, the deployment of LTE and LTE-A on cellular networks, plus 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, and NFC on local networks will drive test activities in 2015.
"eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service) is the enabling technology for LTE Broadcast services such as LTE Multicast," said Richard Bellairs, product marketing manager at Anritsu. "Developers of wireless chipsets and devices are in a competitive race to support eMBMS and test equipment must address early development, conformance, acceptance, and regulatory issues. Regression tests, backward compatibility, and other validations must be made to ensure the end-to-end user performance meets specifications."
As cellular and short-range wireless technologies converge, test will be a part of what brings it all together. "Expect to see short-range and low-power technologies such as WLAN, Bluetooth Low Energy, ZigBee, and NFC connect small sensors to devices, said Mark Wallace of Keysight Technologies. "Those connections will create HetNets (Heterogeneous Networks)." The integration of those technologies will require interoperability testing with 3G and 4G (LTE and LTE-Advanced) technologies." Eventually, 5G should bring it all together, but that's yet to be defined. Wallace added "5G will bring together wireless technologies with networks to provide consumers with access that was once only expected from wired connections."
Everywhere you turn, you hear about our insatiable appetite for mobile data. That appetite will continue to push for more bandwidth than is available. James Kimery, director of Marketing for RF, Communications, and Software Defined Radio (SDR) at National Instruments, notes that technologies coming online will ease the inevitable data crunch. "Wireless service providers plan to furiously upgrade their networks to 4G LTE, LTE-A, and beyond, adopting new innovations including MIMO (multiple input multiple output) and carrier aggregation. But, the current technology trajectory still produces a capacity slope more flat than the demand line. As a result, new wireless technologies that will be part of a 5G network are now in the research stage."
To Page 2: High-speed serial data