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5G Perspective

Deploying 5G – What you need to know about new spectrum bands and advanced technologies

5G requires the installation and deployment of multitudes of new cell sites and small cells – all turned up quicker than ever before so that operators can begin delivering services and earning new revenue fast. As they move to 5G, operators will still need to support, maintain, and test both new and existing wireless technologies (e.g., 3G/4G/LTE/5G-NR). At the same time, cell densification and emerging 5G innovations, including beamforming and massive MIMO together with new mmWave spectrum and CBRS/C-bands, are making the RF environment complex to navigate for operators and field technicians alike. Left unresolved, RF issues will impact network capacity, quality of service, subscriber QoE, and revenue.

All this results in significant new operational challenges and the need for different, innovative test processes. To get the most from their investment, operators need field-focused radio frequency (RF) testing solutions that can both scale and adapt as their networks change. To address this market requirement, EXFO applied its field-focused expertise to RF testing, creating an innovative, modular solution that is ready to adapt as networks transform. Introducing the 5GPro Spectrum Analyzer.

The industry’s first field-tech optimized, scalable RF spectrum analyzer, the 5GPro Spectrum Analyzer strikes the right balance between functionality and portability in a compact design that delivers accurate RF over-the-air (OTA) measurements. It is the only modular, field-focused RF testing solution providing accurate visibility into 4G/LTE and 5G NR environments with the ability to analyze FR1 (sub-6 GHz) and FR2 (mmWave) bands, using a single, field-upgradeable solution. Designed specifically for field techs – and with simplicity-of-use in mind – the 5GPro Spectrum Analyzer enables field techs and contractors to easily identify and resolve issues and consequently close out jobs faster.

Key features and benefits of the 5GPro Spectrum Analyzer:

  • First field-upgradeable RF testing solution – no downtime due to factory upgrades
  • industry’s only modular RF testing solution – option to start with FR1 and add FR2 as requirements change
  • support for real-time spectrum analysis (RTSA) bandwidth up to 100 MHz, 5G NR demodulation, and beamforming analysis, plus TDD and LTE signal analysis
  • saves time by simplifying RF testing with a smart UX-optimized GUI and patent-pending intelligent peak detection and snap-to-peak features
  • seamless cloud integration for centralized workflow management and results sharing

Figure 1: Field upgradeable solution supports FR1 (sub-6 GHz) and FR2 (mmWave)

Applications
Real-time spectrum analysis (RTSA). The 5GPro Spectrum Analyzer is a real-time spectrum analyzer (RTSA) that provides continuous acquisition of RF signals with 100 MHz of analysis bandwidth. Quick characterization of wireless signals and detection of intermittent interference is now possible with the combination of the RTSA persistence and spectrogram view.

The 5GPro Spectrum Analyzer brings innovation and intelligence to RF testing with a smart user interface featuring built-in expertise and patent-pending features like intelligent peak detection and snap-to-peak. With snap-to-peak, field techs can use the touch screen to identify interferers through a moveable window, which allows them to easily search for the highest amplitude interferer and attach a marker.


Figure 2: Patent-pending Snap-to-Peak feature

5G NR signal analyzer. A 5G NR signal analyzer supports the demodulation of 5G NR signals, validating over-the-air (OTA) performance of cell sites, and ensures smooth communication with user equipment. This application provides beamforming metrics and will analyze up to 64 beams and display the 12 strongest with the corresponding power measurements.

Spectrum analysis (TDD gated sweep). Time-division duplexing (TDD) is a transmission technique whereby the uplink and downlink signals are transmitted on the same frequency using synchronized timed intervals. Both spectrum and interference analysis for TDD require the use of a measurement technique called gated sweep. This technique facilitates the visualization of uplink or downlink spectrum by displaying that data within a specified range of timeslots.

LTE analysis. The LTE signal analyzer supports the demodulation of 4G/LTE signals validating over-the-air OTA performance of cell sites and providing key metrics including sector and group ID; physical cell ID (PCI); duplexing mode (FDD or TDD); RSRP (dBm); RSRQ (dB); and RSSI (dBm).

A single, complete test solution. EXFO’s 5GPro Spectrum Analyzer is available on the FTB 5GPro test kit for a complete all-in-one solution used to validate 4G and 5G networks. In addition to RF testing, the FTB 5GPro supports fiber inspection and characterization, CPRI/eCPRI/O-RAN, RF spectrum analysis over CPRI, Ethernet (up to 100G) plus timing and synchronization. This comprehensive solution reduces the number of devices field technicians need to carry, speeding up jobs and reducing overall total cost of ownership for operators and contractors.


Figure 3: All-in-one FTB 5GPro test solution

Conclusion
There is much more to 5G than an upgrade in the speed of the network; 5G enables revolutionary new use-cases that change the way mobile networks are implemented and used throughout society. This brave new world also brings with it new challenges in constructing, operating, and maintaining these networks. Mobile network operators will require innovative processes and the right tools to help them meet the challenges that lie ahead. These tools must be able to test both existing and new technologies, be upgradeable to handle what comes next as well as be portable and easy to use so that field technicians can do more in less time.

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