5G changes the way that the mobile networks need to be tested in the field.
As Keysight introduces a new eBook to the market detailing Six Essential 5G Field Tests, TMN editor Keith Dyer asks Keysight what is different about 5G, why that requires a new range of field tests, and what mobile network operators can do about it.
To read the full details of Keysight’s Six Essential 5G Field Tests, fill out the form on this page.
Why do 5G deployments require different field tests to 4G?
Compared to 4G technologies, 5G promises to deliver much higher capabilities for a variety of applications. Benefits of 5G include 1000x more capacity to connect numerous devices, 100x faster data rates to provide rapid data communication speeds, and less than 1 ms latency for data transmission to ensure timely responses for mission-critical events. To achieve those goals, the 5G network has its own unique structure and complexity that present new test and measurement challenges and requirements.
To enable the benefits of 5G, a wider information bandwidth becomes imperative, and millimeter-wave (mmWave) frequencies can naturally accommodate wider bandwidths. The carrier frequencies for 5G (sub-6 GHz to 24+ GHz) are higher than that of 4G (sub-3 GHz), requiring field engineers to have test equipment with higher frequency coverage.
In addition to higher frequencies, 5G networks use beamforming from cell towers with phased array antennas, as opposed to omnidirectional antennas used in 4G. Beamforming maximises 5G network efficiency by electronically steering the electro-magnetic waveform beams emitted from the base station. Additionally, and unlike 4G signals, 5G control channels are not always on. 5G uses a technique called beam sweeping, making it more challenging to determine the location of the 5G signal.
Are operators under more pressure with 5G rollouts to ensure accuracy and performance, at faster rollout speeds?
5G technologies will impact a broad set of industries, such as smart manufacturing, automotive, transportation, healthcare, and agriculture. The earlier operators can successfully deploy their 5G networks, the more business opportunities they may potentially receive. The complexity of the 5G technologies, however, imposes stringent demands on field test tools to ensure the accuracy and performance of the network. Also, the fierce competition to be first to market requires that field test tools are flexible enough to adapt to the on-going evolution of 5G standards.
Do operators and deployment teams have the tools they need to make 5G field-test measurements?
Currently for operators, there are not many ideal test tools available in the market. While some operators may utilise their own self-created tools, there are less than a handful of industry vendors offering portable 5G signal analysers.
This is the space where Keysight’s FieldFox handheld analyzer stands out, as it functions as more than a portable 5G signal analyser. In addition to 5G-specific measurements like demodulation and beam analysis, FieldFox also offers general-purpose network analysis, spectrum analysis, cable and antenna analysis, channel scanning with mapping, power measurements, and more. All these capabilities are integrated into a light-weight, battery-powered, rugged package with a weather-proof design, providing operators with a versatile field-test tool for their 5G network. No other handheld analyser on the market offers the various testing capabilities for 5G network installation, verification, and optimisation.
Who should read this eBook?
This eBook is valuable for engineers and technicians working on 5G network deployments who want to learn about different field test requirements. Additionally, it’s helpful for engineers who design and verify 5G components, subsystems, and systems in the lab. That’s because FieldFox is an all-in-one instrument that saves precious lab space with performance comparable to lab-grade, RF test equipment.