OTA testing: MIMO standards, costs and the ‘death grip’

LTE Innovation Summit: The promise

The controversy over over-the-air testing standards – or lack thereof – for LTE MIMO, as well as cost and complexity, are some of the major issues in OTA testing today.

A recent panel of experts debated those issues at the recent 2014 LTE Innovation Summit. The group, including representatives from Qualcomm, Nokia, test lab Intertek, reverberation chamber specialist Bluetest and test and measurement company Rohde & Schwarz, touched on the existing and upcoming challenges across the device development ecosystem.

The wireless industry currently has no standard for LTE MIMO testing, due to disagreements among which of four possible approaches should be adopted – or whether multiple testing methods will be standardized.

The panel members agreed that the amount of time that has to be dedicated to OTA testing is the biggest challenge due to time-to-market pressures.

OTA testing budgets, according to Pat Connor, director of Qualcommn’s antenna lab, “[require] more planning now. We need to look further in advance to really make our budget for the upcoming year. The complexity has really increased.”

The discussion also grappled with the “death grip” issue, or how to test in order to anticipate issues for users who grip their phones too tightly. That kind of grip can cause dropped calls and lead to certain phones being returned in high numbers.

However, certification testing doesn’t account for the death grip, which is difficult to standardize for the phantom hands used in testing, because the grip would vary by handset.

“Existing hand phantoms, even if you adjust them to touch near the sensitive point, don’t really capture the issue,” said Dr. Kevin Li, senior engineering manager with Nokia.

Watch the panel discussion, moderated by RCR Wireless News’ technology reporter Kelly Hill:

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