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LTE: Up for a test

Posted: 24 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LTE? WiMAX? broadband? wireless mobile? device test?

Providing the needs
One of the trickiest instrumentation needs for engineers developing LTE devices is measuring the phase characteristics of MIMO signals. Traditionally, RF vector signal generators and analyzers have been single-channel devices; achieving tight levels of synchronization among multiple channels of RF or multiple channels of RF acquisition was quite difficult. National Instruments' Hall said the recent release of products such as the NI PXIe-5663 RF vector signal analyzer and NI PXIe-5673 RF vector signal generator "provides engineers with a solution for even tighter synchronization for 2 x 2 and 4 x 4 phase-coherent MIMO systems".

NI's PXI instruments address the phase coherency challenge with built-in timing and synchronization capabilities, said Hall. "As a result, [development] engineers can configure up to four PXIe-5673 RF vector signal generators to produce phase-coherent RF signals with less than 1 nanosecond of channel-to-channel skew."

NI also provides RF record and playback capabilities, said Hall. "Engineers can record RF signals often off of the airfor hours on end, and then replay the signal in the lab with an RF vector signal generator. With this tool, baseband processor designers are able to observe how their device responds to difficult environmental conditions such as multipath and channel fading."

Progress in LTE design and testing can be judged by what was shown at the annual Mobile World Congress, held last week (Feb. 16-19) in Barcelona.

"At Mobile World Congress in 2008, the network equipment and test instrument suppliers were demonstrating LTE test solutions, but in reality they were only partial solutions because the 3GPP [3rd Generation Partnership Project] standards for LTE were far from completely ratified," said Jonathan Borrill, director of marketing at Anritsu (EMEA). "Now, a year later, the standards are sufficiently mature for real implementations, and phone, base station and chip set manufacturers are developing real LTE products. This means the market now needs complete LTE test solutions that cover all of the 3GPP LTE specifications."

Two big engineering challengescoverage and interferenceface LTE operators, and one of the most important tools they require is an LTE-compliant base station field tester, said Borrill.

"As network rollouts get under way, there is now a race among test equipment manufacturers to get such a tester to market," Borrill said.

- Nicolas Mokhoff
EE Times

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