Realizing 5G and Wi-Fi 6E Networks With Evolving Programmable Test Systems

It is well understood that the technologies used to usher in next-generation 5G and Wi-Fi 6E wireless networks are revolutionary in terms of spectrum usage, component and IC advancement on the substrate and packaging-levels. In order to meet the seemingly unreachable 5G key performance indicators (KPIs) a mix of technological leaps and iterative improvements on the previous cellular infrastructure had to be realized. Much of the improvements seen for 5G and Wi-Fi 6 revolve heavily around the use of Multi-input Multi-output (MIMO) in its various forms. Along with the widespread adoption of any of these technologies, there is the need to understand precisely how these signals perform in the myriad of environments they will be deployed in. From small, rack-mount switched matrices with step attenuators, amplifiers, combiners and splitters to hulking massive MIMO (mMIMO) test beds, these test systems are critical for network architects to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the functionalities of a 5G NR signal in a complex transmission environment. This Tech Brief will provide an understanding of the various key factors of modern wireless architectures, and introduce some novel ideas for testing and development of these systems.

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