December 5, 2017
The race to 5G has shifted to the fast lane, with the 3GPP accelerating the release of the 5G New Radio (NR) standard, with a full out 5G deployment by 2019. This has placed added pressure on chipset, mobile device and network element manufacturers, as well as mobile operators to finish the last mile as quickly as possible. Grabbing market share in the next-generation wireless technology will require more than being first to market, however. Proof of performance and cost will be two other contributing factors to achieve 5G success.
5G networks are already being deployed by multiple carriers but on a limited basis. Of course, testing on those base station rollouts are necessary to ensure network operation but that is only half the equation. The second part is how will user equipment (UE) operate in the 5G world? The answer began to be answered in Morgan Hill, CA, where Anritsu has a facility. It was on the roads of this Silicon Valley city that a leading network equipment manufacturer (NEM) conducted a series of tests on its 28 GHz 5G radios.
5G Testing Ground
Field trials were conducted to determine how radios for 5G fixed wireless access will compete with fiber to the home. Because there were no 5G towers readily available, the NEM required the use of the Anritsu Spectrum Master™ MS2720T spectrum analyzer (figure 1) to test the performance of these next-generation 28 GHz 5G radios in a coverage mapping exercise. The spectrum analyzer was used to measure key parameters of the NEM prototype radio in a variety of real-world environments.
The 5G radio was mounted in multiple locations at varying heights in different urban and rural settings. Because of the significant free space attenuation at 28 GHz, a horn antenna was used in conjunction with the Spectrum Master MS2720T to provide additional receiver gain. Moreover, the directional nature of the horn antenna required the use of four MS2720T antenna pairs to provide complete 360-degree receive capability. In addition, each MS2720T handheld spectrum analyzer was configured with a GPS location receiver.
As the engineers drove the truck (figure 2) through the streets of Morgan Hill, the handheld spectrum analyzers were able to plot received signal strength with location. To acquire comprehensive data on the NEM’s radio performance, the route taken for the Over-the-Air (OTA) measurements passed through various environmental conditions, including attenuation from tree foliage, and multi-path from houses and office buildings.
Measurement and Analysis
Each Spectrum Master MS2720T was connected to a respective horn antenna via an RF cable. This configuration allowed all received power acquired by the handheld spectrum analyzers to be displayed simultaneously on a PC in real-time for immediate analysis. The engineers conducted coverage mapping and power of arrival due to multi-path effects (figures 3 and 4), among other measurements.
The outdoor coverage mapping capability of the MS2720T handheld spectrum analyzers provided several benefits during the day-long series of tests throughout the region:
- Only one frequency carrier was required to monitor RSSI or ACPR and to set up the instrument, i.e. reference level and pre-amplification
- Color-coded thresholds (levels) on the map led to quicker analysis
- Maps were configured by GPS distance or time increment
- Measurements could be exported as a .kml for use with Google Earth
The Spectrum Master MS2720T handheld spectrum analyzers also featured Anritsu’s easyMap Tools. For the tests conducted on the 5G radios, real-time maps that included the location where each measurement was created were displayed and stored on a PC in real-time. Additionally, easyMap Tools enables downloading of maps for on-instrument mapping.
This exercise confirmed the suitability of the Spectrum Master MS2720T for field trials of the first-generation 5G fixed wireless access radios. The testing also helped the NEM evaluate its design in real-world environments, which will aid in bringing it to market early.
A full case history on this story can be found here.