NI Introduces Test Solution for Stand-Alone (SA) 5G New Radio User Equipment

National Instruments (NI) has introduced a stand-alone (SA) version of its 5G New Radio (NR) Test User Equipment (UE) offering. 

Before the 5G ecosystem can evolve, companies must test and validate products and services for standards compliance, interoperability, and operational performance. The new 5G NR Test UE operates as a 3GPP Release 15 standard compliant UE such as a modem or cell phone. The offering enables infrastructure providers – including macro cells, small cells, pico cells, and femto cells, semiconductor, and service operators – to test, validate, and assess performance in real world scenarios.

Non-Stand-Alone (NSA) 5G NR continues to facilitate the initial rollout of 5G technologies, but 5G NR stand-alone networks include critical elements necessary to realize the full 5G vision, particularly in relation to data throughput and latency. NI released NSA functionality in 2019, and this is an important follow-on release to provide complete coverage of 3GPP Release 15.

Spirent Communications is partnering with NI to accelerate 5G NR technology and support, and provide a solution that can validate 5G device performance and offer end-to-end network emulation environments for global customers. According to Clarke Ryan, Senior Director of product development at Spirent, last year brought worldwide 5G NSA deployments, but meaningful revenues were elusive. Where 5G development is well underway, there’s a rush globally to move past NSA to SA (Stand-Alone) 5G rollouts to capture revenues in industries like manufacturing, automotive, mobile gaming, and beyond.

According to James Kimery, Director of marketing, wireless research at NI, the early 5G sub-6 GHz rollouts are a significant step toward realizing the benefits of 5G, but the faster data rates, higher reliability, and lower latency of SA 5G will deliver the promised transformational impact for enterprises and consumers. As there is a lot of strain on existing networks, implementing SA 5G is more important now than ever before. This exciting and important work presents significant design and test challenges that require powerful tools.

With today’s announcement, the 5G NR Test UE offering enables users to evaluate performance, conformance to the standard, and interoperability for both SA and NSA 5G systems. It’s the first all-in-one, software-upgradeable hardware solution specifically designed to maximize cost efficiency, elevate the user-experince, and maintain robust functionality.

Key Benefits of Test UE
  • Versatile Hardware: Reduce development time and maximize hardware investments with a system designed for both lab benchmark tests and field tests.
  • Early Access to Standards: Access standard-compliant systems in advance of commercial hardware and receive software upgrades as new standards are defined.
  • Real-Time Analytics: Evaluate link status and performance in real time while creating log files for offline analysis and debugging including unprecedented Layer 1 visibility.

The announcement of SA support is the first major software upgrade for the 5G New Radio (NR) Test User Equipment (UE) offering since its initial launch in 2019.