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  • 5G
  • 4 Min Read

Challenges Faced in 5G Device Testing

Uday Parida

According to a market forecast report released by ResearchAndMarkets, “The global 5G devices market will reach $45.96 billion by 2030, growing by 37.8% annually over 2020-2030 despite the impact of COVID-19. The shipment is expected to advance to 666.2 million units in 2030 driven by the fast-growing 5G subscribers and users.

In many developed countries, cellular network operators are planning to roll out 5G networks by 2020. Many leading device manufacturers have already launched several models of 5G devices. Also, most device manufacturers have revealed their plan to launch 5G devices by 2022. But the device manufacturers have to conduct 5G device testing under varying real-worlds conditions to ensure that they deliver the outstanding user experience.

The test engineers find it challenging to test 5G devices under real-world conditions due to the absence of live fifth-generation cellular networks. They have to explore ways to produce reliable device testing results by emulating a 5G network accurately. Also, the test engineers still evaluate important features of a 5G device due to a lack of options to automate 5G device testing end-to-end. The test engineers need to address a slew of challenges which they face during 5G device testing.

Identifying 7 Major Challenges Faced by Test Engineers During 5G Device Testing

Absence of Live 5G Networks

The test engineers validate 4G devices using the live cellular network to detect issues related to functionality and performance accurately. The live networks further help them to evaluate the performance and functionality of the device under real-user conditions. But the test engineers lack the option to test 5G devices in real-world conditions due to the absence of live 5G networks. They need sophisticated network emulators that create the fifth-generation cellular network precisely for device testing purposes. 

Validating Functionality and Performance

The test engineers need to perform a variety of tests to evaluate all important aspects of a 5G device. For instance, they need to perform functional testing to assess the performance of the chipset under low battery, fluctuating network signals, and other abnormal conditions. Likewise, they must perform drive testing to assess the 5G device’s performance under changing network strengths. The test engineers have to use emulators to perform these tests due to the absence of live 5G networks.

Covering Variations in 5G Frequencies

According to Wikipedia, low-band 5G currently uses a frequency ranging from 600-700 MHz similar to the current 4G networks. But high-band 5G currently uses a frequency ranging from 25-39 GHz. But the frequency range will vary across countries. Some countries will initially roll out low-band 5G networks, while others will directly implement high-band 5G networks. The manufacturers will target multiple frequency bands while producing 5G devices. The test engineers need network emulators that can emulate multiple frequency bands to deliver reliable test results.

Replicating Bugs Detected in Remote Locations

Most manufacturers will produce 5G devices in a specific country and ship the devices to multiple countries. Hence, the functionality or performance of the device might be impacted due to defects, issues, or bugs pertaining to a specific geographic location. But the testing professional cannot detect the bug or identify the performance issue without emulating the network exactly. They need network emulators with the capability to emulate the 5G network accurately according to particular geographic locations.

Validating Changes Made to the 5G Devices

The device manufacturers will make changes to 5G devices regularly to boost user experience. For instance, they will update the device’s operating system to attract more customers. Likewise, they may embed minor features in the 5G device to beat the competition. The test engineers need to test the 5G device elaborately to validate the existing and new features. The test engineers can validate the changes accurately only when they can emulate the 5G network from the targeted region.

Conforming with Pre-Certification Standards

The device manufacturers must conform to both global and independent standards to launch 5G devices in a specific country. For instance, the 5G devices must comply with the standards set by PTCRB before being launched in North American countries. Likewise, the 5G devices need to comply with independent mobile device certification bodies like Global Certification Forum (GCF). The test engineers need network simulators that help them to conduct pre-certification testing of 5G devices by obtaining relevant and elaborate information.

Reducing Test Time and Cost

The manufacturers cannot launch 5G devices frequently without curtailing 5G device testing time. Likewise, they cannot boost sales without curtailing 5G device testing overheads. Hence, manufacturers explore ways to automate 5G device testing end-to-end. But most of the popular test automation tools are pretty expensive as they are based on proprietary hardware. Also they do not support testing many devices at the same time. Hence, test engineers have to evaluate and validate the 5G devices rigorously to produce reliable test results.

The test engineers need next-generation test automation tools to address current and emerging challenges in 5G device testing. Leading tech startups like Simnovus help device manufacturers to reduce the time and cost of 5G device testing by launching innovative network emulators like Callbox. Callbox simplifies and accelerates device testing by supporting a wide range of wireless communication technologies – 4G, 5G, Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT), and Category M (Cat-M).

Callbox enables test engineers to test 5G devices easily and cost-effectively by  creating fully-functional 5G cellular networks on a commercial off-the-shelf (OTS) hardware. The test engineers can leverage the out-of-box features provided by Callbox to automate functional, performance, and pre-certification testing of a variety of 5G devices. At the same time, the device manufacturers can leverage Callbox to reduce the overall time and cost of testing 5G devices.

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