Test & Measurement MWC 2013: Testing carrier aggregation, small cells and apps

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QCR’s Wide Band Transcorder for RF recording and playback. Image courtesy QRC.

QRC Technologies launched a wide-band transcorder this week, which it describes as a self-contained radio frequency recording and playback system designed to allow technicians to record network conditions in the field and transport or e-mail the information for troubleshooting.

QRC is aiming the product at telecommunications and government customers; the company has historically worked with government, but says the pricing on its transcorder is competitive for the mobile testing market.

“This concept is not new, of a digital recorder — what really is new and unique is that we have everything you need to do this, including recording and playback, all in one box you can hold in your hand, power off a car, weighs less than 10 pounds and is as easy to use as YouTube,” said Tom Callahan, CTO of QRC. The unit costs less than $60,000, he said, compared to systems that offer the same functionality but cost $250,000 or more.

Deutsche Telekom is using Rohde & Schwarz test cases for quality assurance on its new LTE network in Germany. The mobile operator selected the R&S CMW Ko550 test case option for checking transmission quality and speed on new LTE devices; it also allows device manufacturers to better prepare for the carrier’s acceptance tests.

Rohde & Schwarz also expanded its FSH handheld spectrum analyzers to include 13.6 GHz and 20 GHz models, which can be used for testing microwave applications as well as satellite communications and radar systems. The company said that the analyzers can also measure disturbance signals in cellular networks, such as UMTS up to the fifth harmonic.

The FSH13 and FSH20 will be available in the second quarter of this year.

The carrier aggregation features of LTE-Advanced are eagerly anticipated as operators seek to get more speed from their networks and use their spectrum more efficiently. Anite said that it has been working with chipset manufacturers and achieved peak data rates with commercial devices for carrier aggregation – around 3 Gbps.

Anite said that getting to peak data rates on a mobile network “poses one of the biggest challenges the industry has ever had to face due to the complexity of the LTE-A technology coupled with limitations set by form factors and frequency bandwidths.”

The company now supports protocol testing for carrier aggregation of up to 20×20 megahertz bandwidth and support for a 4×2 antenna configuration so that chipset manufacturers can develop and test LTE-A products.

In support of the small cell trend, JDSU introduced its Small Cell Assurance Solution to promote testing, monitoring and optimization of small cell deployments. The portfolio includes automated testing for backhaul performance as well as visibility into small cell performance through microprobes.

This week also saw JDSU president of communications test and measurement, David Heard, named to the board of directors for the Telecommunications Industry Association.

Anritsu added remote control capabilities for half a dozen PIM tester models, which are battery-powered and portable so that techs on the ground can use the Windows-based software to direct an analyzer configured on top of a tower for passive inter-modulation measurements. The software works will all six of Anritsu’s PIM Master MW82119A models.

We have several clips of Anritsu product demos from MWC 2013 – check them out here and on our YouTube channel.

Anritsu’s Handset Testing Products

RF Conformance Test System

And a look at Anritsu’s RTD system for carrier aggregation:

Agilent is targeting device manufacturers with a new wireless communications test set designed for high-volume device testing with a multiport adapter – one box with eight ports for cellular testing and four for satellite/GPS testing. It also includes full cellular-band coverage up to 3.8 GHz – including LTE TDD Band 43 – for future test needs.

National Instruments came out with its second vector signal transceiver for testing both the RF and baseband signals of a device with a single instrument.

The University of New Hampshire’s Interoperability Laboratory demonstrated its MIPI testing services for mobile device components this week, aimed at enabling less expensive smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks to enter the market. UNH collaborates with Agilent on its MIPI conformance testing.

Azimuth Systems recently announced a device automation and control system for unattended user experience testing on Android smartphones and other mobile devices. Its DAC automatically makes voice calls and does messaging, data and video streaming, and allows customers to create test plans that fit their desired requirements.

For a different view on app testing, applications developer Evernote has integrated UserTesting.com into its app development cycle, drawing on the latter’s panels of live users to tests its popular personal organization applications.

“In the past, we used beta testing together with forums to gather early feedback, but UserTesting.com gives us high-fidelity audio/video feedback much more quickly,” said Philip Constantinou, Evernote’s VP of product. He added that the user testing “lets us try out experimental versions of our applications, which is something we could not do with traditional beta testers.”

Evernote now does user testing after app design and development, as well as before each refine and release phase, the company said. According to the two companies, the results improved user retention more than 15%, and also dramatically increased the engagement of users with Evernote’s app. The company said recently that it has 50 million users around the world and is adding 100,000 per day.

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About Author

Kelly Hill

Editor, Big Data, Analytics, Test & Measurement
[email protected]
Kelly Hill currently reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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