The American subsidiaries of a number of Japanese electronics companies came to the 2012 International Microwave Symposium in Montreal armed with product announcements that, while not as sexy as a new tablet launch, should all play key roles in enabling increasingly robust microwave radio links in support of mobile broadband services.
Anritsu announced the availability of it next generation cable and antenna analyzer for use in the deployment, installation and maintenance of wireless networks. With the sheer volume of new radio resources that must be deployed – both radio access and microwave backhaul – to support the impending onslaught of mobile data traffic that will be traversing 3G and 4G networks, it is clear that advanced test and measurement tools will be required. The time it takes to physically deploy and optimize radio resources will be, perhaps, one of the major deployment cost drivers that operators will be faced with as they deploy increasingly robust radio networks. While Anritsu’s new product, the S331L, is only one piece of the overall test and measurement puzzle, it does incorporate significant “nuts and bolts” improvements over current generation analyzers that should make field testing more efficient. Primarily, improvements in battery life, spectrum range, and remote connectivity are designed to help field techs save time while performing tests at multiple job sites per day.
Fujitsu unveiled single-chip, high output 10GHz transceiver. The use of gallium nitrate to produce chips that perform the function of dozens, in not hundreds, of discrete active components is not new. Optical systems vendor, Infinera made its name a few years ago doing just that. Extending the concept to this particular application, however, helps move the needle with respect to efficiently handling increases in mobile broadband traffic. In this case, the company stated in its release that, “the technology will be used in a wide range of applications that require compact modules with high output, including wireless communications and radar systems.” Clearly microwave backhaul systems fit this bill. As talk of small cells heats up, so does talk of controlling the physical hardware that will be needed to support the architectures. Advancements like this one that can help to make radio units smaller and less noticeable will be important to watch in the coming months.
Toshiba introduces new line of power amplifiers that can be used in microwave systems. Similar to Fujitsu’s announcement, the key to Toshiba’s release is that it increases the power output of a microwave system, while reducing the number of discrete components necessary to achieve the RF gain. Again, this will become increasingly relevant as network operators are forced to deploy radio resources in smaller, more dense form factors in support of small cell architectures.
Individually, these announcements seem fairly techie, and, arguably, arcane. In total, they represent the type of concerted effort that comes together to make the entire wireless ecosystem more efficient and able to support the mobile broadband services that do garner headlines.
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