The growing complexity of telecom networks and the arrival of 5G are amongst several factors that are driving the demand for test and measurement (T&M) solutions. In an interview with tele.net, Jayanth Ramachandran (left), director, wireless communication, and Hiren Thaker (right), director, technical services, Rohde & Schwarz (R&S) India, discuss the emerging trends in the T&M space and the company’s focus areas and future plans…
What were some of the key business and operational highlights for the company’s telecom business during 2020?
R&S offers comprehensive T&M solutions for the entire wireless communication and mobile network ecosystem. We continued our pioneering efforts in testing in 2020 by introducing innovative solutions, collaborating with new partners and expanding our role as a leading global provider of managed services in the field of mobile network testing.
We created an innovative portfolio for 5G NR device test solutions to manage complex requirements such as higher bandwidth and over-the-air measurements. We also featured testing solutions in both FR1 and FR2 frequency ranges for developers of 5G devices and introduced a 5G site testing solution to facilitate commercial 5G deployments with new network infrastructure. The Global Certification Forum and the PCS Type Certification Review Board have validated the first 5G test cases in various FR1 and LTE band combinations for the R&S conformance test system. We also collaborated with various partners to innovate and grow. For example, in collaboration with a non-university research establishment in Germany, we performed a full 2D/3D antenna characterisation of transceiver modules operating in the D-band, a candidate frequency band for mobile communications beyond 5G and 6G. We extended collaboration with a leading global fabless semiconductor company to verify dynamic spectrum sharing, a technique that enables mobile network operators to use LTE and 5G NR in the same frequency band.
What are some of the key emerging trends in the telecom T&M space? How is R&S planning to leverage these?
The technology behind wireless devices is extremely complex and sophisticated. The telecom sector requires T&M solutions that can help address this complexity with new technology standardisation, product design and production. In addition, frequent testing and continuous optimisation of the network are critical to provide optimal quality of experience and service.
We would like to tap into these opportunities with our T&M solutions portfolio, which covers both wireless communication and mobile network testing requirements. We offer solutions across all bandwidths, beginning from 2G and 3G to 4G/LTE, 5G and beyond, as well as for all non-cellular standards including WLAN/Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and UWB. Our solutions for the internet of things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) ecosystems are applicable across the value chain – from power consumption to security. We also offer multi-standard testing solutions for wireless devices covering R&D, conformance and production-related requirements.
What are your views on the 5G readiness of the Indian industry? How is the 5G T&M market evolving in India?
5G is the most awaited technology in India. However, due to the growing complexity of 5G devices, there is a need for a unified interface to test across all layers. This will help simplify signalling tests and obtain a holistic view of the design validation test process. As a company, we are rightly positioned to provide value to the entire mobile communication value chain – from standardisation of new processes to the development and manufacturing of components, wireless devices and base stations.
We are supporting established wireless standards and are making a decisive contribution to the launch of 5G and related applications such as connected car applications (V2X), M2M communications and IoT. As part of Industry 4.0, 5G has the potential to revolutionise factory automation by connecting operating facilities wirelessly. R&S has already developed a comprehensive T&M portfolio to set up and reliably operate 5G factory networks.
What are the other measures through which you plan to add value to the Indian telecom sector?
Efficient operation of test facilities is an essential part of running a profitable business across the value chain. Be it an R&D lab for creating prototypes for new products, or a compliance testing unit or a manufacturing unit with requirements for on-site testing across its production line, the availability of properly calibrated T&M equipment is critical to meet our business goals. Any downtime has a direct impact on the utilisation of T&M equipment, resulting in a degraded cost-benefit ratio. Our post-sales services beyond the warranty period minimise the time for which T&M instruments need to be offline for maintenance and calibration.
R&S India has a full-fledged service centre equipped with the latest ATE-based calibration systems to comprehensively service a wide range of R&S test equipment. In 2020, our service team proved itself as a reliable partner for the telecom sector by delivering after-sales services with full compliance with local regulations despite many challenges and lockdown-related restrictions.