5G has become the uprising sensation in mobile world. As 5G progress from a concept in the lab to a commercial field-deployable solution, network equipment manufacturers (NEMs) and Device Manufacturers are working vigorously to assure 5G delivers on the guarantee of gigabit throughput, massive machine type communication and ultra-reliable low latency communications.
5G RAN is driving major structural changes with 3D beamforming active antennas, higher-frequency service operation (mmwave), spectrum flexibility, and stringent SLAs on backhaul and fronthaul among other things. Time-to-market and network deployment efficiency will be highly dependent on the quality of test and measurement during lab phase of 5G technology testing, evolution and benchmarking.
Verifying a new and massive technology like 5G in the lab is time taking and expensive. Engineers in the lab must perform pre-verification checks to assure a good baseline for the test bed and the RF environment; any RF anomaly in the lab environment can discredit the results. Additionally, validation of mmWave and massive MIMO is complicated, pricey and occasionally unreliable in RF chamber test environment. Beam performance validation is an important test, but in a RF chamber it is not possible to map beam coverage and quality.
Introducing 5G Testing in the Lab
Validating RAN Performance in the Lab:
Isolating Fronthaul, Midhaul and Backhaul Issues:
An essential to control the costs and complexity of 5G deployment demands & the ability to host those network functions that can be centralized at aggregation points away from the network edge.
These requirements contribute to the resulting new 5G architectural options as well as the midhaul higher layer split (HLS) connecting the Central Unit (CU) with the Distributed Unit (DU) together with the fronthaul lower layer split (LLS) connecting the lower layer split Central Unit (llsCU) with the Radio Unit (RU)The performance of the fronthaul, midhaul, and backhaul in the network must be measured and understood, and their impact on the system operation and performance along with impact on application KPIs characterized.
Simnovus field-test instrument provides engineers with an easy to use solution to measure and validate gNB/eNB connectivity and timing synchronization.
Troubleshooting Dual Connectivity:
5G-enabled devices will connect to 5G frequencies for data throughput but will still use 4G for aspects such as system access and mobility. Dual connectivity capable UEs will have to identify as such in the attach procedure and if the functionality is supported then interoperability between the eNB and gNB will work. As both eNB and gNB will be usually collocated, it can potentially create RF environment challenges. Ensuring that there are no RF challenges in the lab and field environment is the key for validating 5G performance.
By using Simnovus well equipped 5G lab, service providers,NEMs and device makers can quickly identify any RF anomalies and can make adjustments to the link budget between 4G eNB/5G gNB
5G Testing Challenges:
1. 5G NR introduces flexible spectrum usage with scalable numerology, dynamic TDD, massive MIMO and beamforming. However, increases in the overall spectral efficiencies from massive MIMO and beamforming impact testing.
2. 5G requires associated adaptive antenna system (AAS) technologies, making it impossible to separate radio performance from antenna performance. Additionally, antenna arrays used with the radios makes it impossible to conduct tests for each antenna port, instead requiring over the air (OTA) testing.
3. OTA testing is required for 5G NR base stations (gNBs) and user equipment (UEs). All UEs and gNBs must pass required conformance tests before being released into the market.
4. Device and base station manufacturers are using OTA testing during design to test a wider set of parameters to ensure quality and sufficient margins, as well as during manufacturing to ensure a UE or base station meets its specification.
5. Test systems and the specific test cases used to perform conformance tests must be validated by independent parties to ensure that the conformance test is both consistent with the standards and repeatable.
6. Radiated tests are also required to meet the 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) conformance requirements.
7. The antenna arrays use narrow beams in frequency band 2 (FR2) that create a spatial 3-dimensional requirement that depends upon OTA testing. The antenna arrays necessary for mmWave frequencies are highly integrated with the amplifier integrated circuits (ICs) in the radio system.
Simnovus 5G Lab as a Service:
As 5G evolves from lab to field deployment, it is essential that NEMs have the confidence to validate all user scenarios in the lab in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Having the right solutions in the lab will ensure a quick and smooth commercial network deployment with fewer field outages and customer complaints. Simnovus is pleased to offer the first commercially-available 5G testing and data analysis tools which optimize customer’s real-world 5G network.