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Exclusive Interview – Donna Majcen

5G is creating huge opportunities for T&M companies. A major increase in investment is already happening and shall continue to happen in the next couple of years in 5G networks, chipsets, and the smartphone market. Please comment.

At Keysight, our motto is to develop the right test equipment to support the next wave of technology or fill the gaps that exist. We have been around as a company for 80 years, initially starting off as Hewlett Packard. When we spun off from Agilent as Keysight, with Ron Nersesian as our CEO, one of our key objectives was to make sure that we support our customers in making 5G a reality.

At that time, there were not a lot of investments in 5G. Companies were starting to look at what they could do to realize the 5G vision to address the growing need for more data and lower latency.

It has been exciting to see how our collaborations with companies across the mobile ecosystem for the past five or more years have led to the launch of many 5G devices and the first network deployments.

We realized early on that we could not sit back and wait to know what companies needed to advance 5G and then develop the equipment to support them. Instead, we had to partner with different companies in real time. This is why we built alliances as the standards were being developed to truly understand what the testing requirements would be for them to prove out their solutions.

What is interesting about 5G is that it will not only address people’s ever-increasing thirst for data, but also impact everything we do. Autonomous vehicles are becoming a reality because of 5G. The Internet of Things (IoT), wherein everything is connected and critical information identified and used to make decisions in real time, is going to change the world with the support of 5G technology.

5G is going to proliferate across everything we do across sectors – industrial IoT, healthcare, aerospace, and others. As a test provider, we do not see it just as how we can help the communications market but how it can transform the way we as people interact with others. It is really about the globalization of technology.

Please elaborate on the new solutions that were unveiled by Keysight in 2019 to address the technical complexities introduced by 5G.

Our primary goal is to introduce industry-first solutions that accelerate 5G innovation. To that end, we work closely with our customers. Our R&D engineers sit onsite and work alongside them as they develop their 5G products.

Our UXM network emulator is a great example of a solution that has led to major leaps in 5G by enabling chipsets and device makers to validate their designs. We are in the best position to help device makers accelerate certification for their 5G devices with the most conformance test cases validated by the GCF and PTCRB.

We recently introduced a new spectrum analyzer and a generator. From the very beginning, we have developed our solutions around our PathWave simulation products to address the need for integrated tools for design, simulation, measurement, and analysis for 5G.

Our drive-test solution, Nemo Outdoor, enables mobile network operators to measure 5G network coverage and quality. Whether it is a chip developer designing a new chip, a device manufacturer validating a 5G smartphone design, a network equipment manufacturer building a base station, or a mobile network operator deploying 5G in its network, we support the development of 5G at every level across the mobile ecosystem.

We know that 5G is complex with the use of millimeter-wave (mmWave) frequencies, massive multiple input multiple out (MIMO), and other technologies. One big challenge from the test point of view is that many tests require over the air (OTA) testing.

Engineers have to think about the chamber, distances between different components of the test setup, and take other factors into consideration. But it is not unsurmountable. Keysight has been shipping commercial mmWave test capability for decades and has established the world’s leading family of mmWave OTA test solutions. We help design and test engineers overcome this challenge for everything from chipset measurements to validating the performance of a mobile device.

Opportunities are being created within enterprises deploying dedicated networks for network visibility solutions and security for mission-critical applications running on these networks. Please elaborate on how Keysight is helping customers securely manage the networks needed to handle the massive amounts of real-time data generated by new applications.

We continue to invest heavily in R&D, and we keep expanding our solution coverage. One of the acquisitions that we made about a year-and-a-half ago was that of Ixia, which is now well integrated into Keysight. Ixia has elevated our solutions to a new level by adding security, visibility, and network test solutions.

We provide unmatched visibility into the network and the tools needed to evaluate network performance. When it comes to security, we make sure that our customers have the right level of security capabilities built into their products.

We offer a wide range of solutions in that space for all types of network architectures, traditional and cloud-based.

Please comment on Keysight’s 5G activities in India currently, and strategy over the next couple of years. What are the revenues you are anticipating from India and what products and solutions are you expecting to launch in the coming years?

Our number-one objective is to enable our customers’ success. We place experts where our customers are and where 5G advancements are happening. Keysight is a global organization. Our R&D, application engineering, and support centers are spread strategically across the world.

We see India as playing an important role in 5G. This is why we picked India as one of the key hubs for the Keysight World events.

We have conducted extensive surveys with our 5G customers. Some want to be the first, others want to see how the technology will play out before implementing it. In India, companies tend to adopt the second approach. However, many research and academia organizations are working to develop 5G standards and applications specific to India.

We have been working very actively with different government bodies and institutions setting up 5G test beds. We clearly are the leading provider of 5G test solutions in the country.

We have registered triple-digit growth in our 5G business. This success shows the confidence our customers have placed in Keysight’s 5G solutions, and we are proud of this achievement.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Yes, as surprising as it sounds, we are already working on 6G. Even though 5G is yet to become mainstream, the evolution of cellular technology continues.

Terahertz is the next frontier for wireless communications. These frequencies provide the wider bandwidths needed to enable faster speeds and give rise to real-time connections between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. We intend to further increase our leadership position in cellular communications in 6G.

We helped kickstart 6G research with the largest donation of test equipment to NYU Wireless last fall, and we joined the 6G Flagship Program in August.

At Keysight, we want to make sure that we are involved in the development of fundamental 6G technologies, like we were in 5G, to help our customers win in their respective markets.

We are excited to join the 6G Flagship Program as one of its founding members to begin groundbreaking 6G research. The program signals the start of a new era of wireless technology that will push the boundaries of high-speed and high-bandwidth applications.

Early research capability, complemented by a wide range of software and hardware for design, simulation and validation, will help the program accomplish its overarching goals. These include supporting the industry in finalizing the adoption of 5G across verticals, developing fundamental technologies needed to enable 6G such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and intelligent UX, and speeding digitalization in society.

The next generation of wireless communications – beyond 5G – is expected to leverage spectrum above millimeter waves called terahertz waves, from 300 GHz to 3 THz. These frequencies form an important component in delivering data rates of up to one tera bit per second and ultra-low latencies.

Keysight’s technology expertise and solutions across these frequency bands, as well as in high-speed digital technologies, cybersecurity, device characterization, and network test, will accelerate research in all four strategic areas of the program: wireless connectivity, distributed intelligent wireless computing, device and circuit technologies, and vertical applications and services.

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