The expanding Internet of Things and mobile operators' changing attitudes regarding the devices used on their networks are impacting demand for wireless equipment testing technology, according to Paul Beaver, products director at UK-based Anite.
Speaking to FierceWirelessTech on the sidelines of the recent Mobile World Congress trade show last month in Barcelona, Spain, Beaver observed that MWC and the mobile industry in general used to be all about "the phone, but now it's about the Internet of Things."
One area of particular interest is "around the grab for the dashboard," he said.
Beaver noted that "massive MIMO," wherein base stations will be outfitted with, for example, 100 transmit and receive nodes, is expected to play a role in 5G networks of the future. But implementing MIMO in portable devices is considerably more complicated given the need for spatial separation.
Cars, however, are different, because they have plenty of real estate to play with. That means there are many more options for using MIMO in connected cars, Beaver said.
Anite, he noted, is deeply focused in 5G research and is leading the radio channel modeling task group within Europe's METIS project, which should help Anite get a head start on provide testing solutions for 5G. In addition to massive MIMO, current areas of 5G-related research include millimeter-wave spectrum, low-power wireless devices and carrier aggregation, Beaver said.
On another topic, he noted that leading mobile operators are beginning to focus on how well the devices they approve actually work on their networks, rather than just assessing whether they work. With that in mind, operators are adding performance testing to their existing interoperability testing, Beaver said.
This change is being driven largely by consumer demand. Mobile consumers are growing more savvy and are less willing to accept operators' claims regarding network data throughput without seeing actual proof. This is especially true in cases of tiered pricing, where customers are expected to pay more for higher performance, Beaver explained.
But because real-world throughput speeds are dependent not just upon network performance but device performance as well, operators realize they must get more involved with device performance testing, he added.
Differences in device functionality based upon seemingly minor adjustments can be surprisingly huge. For example, Beaver said some devices exhibit substantial differences in data throughput depending upon whether they are in portrait or landscape mode. Antenna and system design folks are more interested than ever in how a device works in various positions, he added.
Beavers noted that Anite has been working to replicate live network data in the lab, "so we can get a realistic representation of the network in the lab."
In addition, Anite has been heavily immersed in TD-LTE. The company's interoperability and performance test solution, SAS, was recognized during MWC by the Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI) for its contribution to TD-LTE development.
Among other things, Anite's SAS network simulator solution is designed to enable detailed IMS/VoLTE testing against specific mobile operators' requirements. Just prior to MWC, Anite announced that its SAS has been selected by an unnamed Chinese mobile operator for its TD-LTE device acceptance program.
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