The telecom testing and measurement (T&M) segment has evolved significantly in recent years mainly due to the introduction of advanced technologies such as 4G. The groundwork for introducing 5G has already begun and opened up both opportunities as well as challenges for T&M players. Andreas Pauly, executive vice-president, T&M, Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG, and Yatish Mohan, managing director, Rohde & Schwarz India, talk about the evolving T&M space in India and the way forward. Excerpts…
What are the key trends in the telecom T&M market in India?
The demand for testing equipment is increasing due to the growing bandwidth and the introduction of next-generation wireless technologies. Increasing research and development (R&D) spend in the telecom sector, along with growth in the mobile phone market, is expected to drive the T&M market expansion. Moreover, regulatory compliance, government support and constant technology developments are expected to boost the telecom testing equipment market in 2019. The Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) announcement of rolling out a mandatory plan to test devices from April 1, 2019, will create huge demand for testing equipment and services, which are relevant to safety, electromagnetic interference (EMI), electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), radio frequency (RF), specific absorption rate and other technical requirements.
How have T&M needs changed with the advent of 4G?
Going from 2G/3G to 4G is a paradigm shift for the T&M industry. The advancement of 4G technology has brought significant changes in the way wireless devices and networks are tested. Testing of 2G/3G devices was somewhat simpler as antenna configurations and lower speed data protocols could be tested in a so-called “tabled” environment. However, the test scenario becomes more complex in a 4G environment. The arrival of MIMO technology has brought a big change in the way mobile devices are tested. It has resulted in the proliferation of test schemes that involve intensive field testing of devices. Over-the-air testing has become the need of the hour.
Besides significant changes in the test environment, some other specific test requirements have emerged to ensure the performance of devices in a 4G network. Ongoing spectrum fragmentation and multiplicity of radios within handsets are key areas of consideration for RF design in 4G/LTE. Interoperability is another parameter that needs appropriate testing as handsets are expected to switch seamlessly between 3G and 4G networks without dropping data connections/calls. Moreover, data performance is a critical test area.
What are the challenges in 5G testing?
5G NR supports signal bandwidths up to 100 MHz for carrier frequencies below 6 GHz and up to 400 MHz for frequencies in the millimetre wave range. These ambitious features bring new challenges for development engineers. Designing power amplifiers that exhibit the necessary characteristics (linearity) is not easy and may necessitate new design approaches (for example, digital predistortion). The circuit is needed to generate frequencies in the millimetre wave range and requires careful design and selection of components in order to reduce the effects of phase noise introduced by mixers and multipliers. Beamforming also requires good amplitude and phase synchronisation between antenna elements in active antenna systems. High frequencies intensify challenges for T&M methods. The short wavelengths and higher losses in circuits necessitate tight integration, making it impractical to supply connector ports for testing. At the same time, the effects of connectors and test fixtures become non-negligible, potentially affecting the validity of conducted measurements. Up-to-date T&M equipment from Rohde & Schwarz can help the industry quickly bring 5G NR solutions to the market.
What are the key focus areas of Rohde & Schwarz India?
Rohde & Schwarz India is a leader in the Indian T&M market. We achieved approximately 15 per cent growth in our business last year. We have been a trusted T&M solutions partner for more than two decades. We are also one of the leading suppliers of the Indian wireless communications sector, offering a complete portfolio of T&M instruments and systems for the development, production and type testing of components and consumer devices, and for setting up and monitoring mobile networks. We also supply T&M products and solutions to the automotive, aerospace, defence, industrial electronics, research and education sectors. We have more than 50 per cent market share in EMI/EMC testing in India.
We started R&D activity in the country four years ago and today we support our parent organisation in Germany with our Indian R&D facility. Already a large number of developers are working on R&D at Delhi and Bengaluru.