Attenuating the testing circumstances of 5G technologies, with National Instruments
One of the most exciting events in technology for the last dozen years or so is the arrival of a new generation of wireless technology – 5G.
This site predicts that in the coming months, you’ll be hearing a whole lot more about 5G “NR”. (5G NR = new radio, like 4G LTE = long-term evolution, and 3G UTMS = universal mobile telecommunications system.)
From the consumer’s point of view, 5G means plenty of data bandwidth and download speed while on the go, sufficient, it is thought, to be able to stream 4K and even 8K movies and media to individuals’ mobiles.
There’s much more to it than hi-def Hollywood glamor, naturally. The protocols used and network structures being tested and built at present will enable two other central capabilities of NR, namely very low latencies between transmission/reception bursts – making for a very reliable connection – and the ability for billions of devices to be connected without undue interference with one another.
Every day sees new partnerships between businesses, organizations, and governments to set up frameworks for the new technology’s rollout – in autonomous transport, connected cities, IoT, remote area coverage and so on – and at the heart of these frameworks’ formulation is a new generation of test methods and systems from National Instruments, which are proving vital to the tech’s emergence.
National Instruments is working alongside companies which specialize in semiconductor design, network infrastructure, software developers, and manufacturing bodies. All of these different industries have to design, develop, and most of all, test their solutions, both individually and working in tandem, delivering final 5G solutions.
The complexities of 5G are exacerbated by new brand-new technologies such as Massive MIMO and mmWave. Both technologies’ use of multiple antennas and beamforming are significant departures from current wireless architectures and infrastructure.
5G protocols split off control signals from data throughput, to introduce the concept of network slicing, allowing the scaling of levels of service to devices on an individual basis.
So not only are the standards more complex for 5G than its 4G and 3G forebears, but there is a great deal more at stake — 5G has the ability to transform all of our lives:
“Ten years from now, we’re going to look back and say that 5G was one of the most important pieces of technology ever. It enables everything we see today that’s emerging, whether it’s self-driving cars that talk to each other or just having the most amazing video experience.”
Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst, Moor Insights and Strategy
Modeling systems and their interactions in software, and testing in the lab, thus far have only yielded limited results, certainly without high enough levels of validation to allow 5G technology to rise from prototype to production levels.
Over the air (OTA) testing has to be standard in 5G tests, and it’s here that National Instruments’s capabilities are best deployed.
By taking full advantage of software-defined radios (SDRs — effectively reconfigurable RF transmit/receive hardware) there have already been significant reductions in testing phase durations right across the required specializations. Results are more accurate and are arriving earlier than might be otherwise expected.
National Instruments’s broad range of software development environments, I/O interfaces, software-defined radios, and a highly active developer & test community mean that the companies testing can quickly form the virtualized and physical testbeds on which the new technology is being developed.
Already showcased in the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the Winter Olympics in South Korea, 5G will soon become an integral part of all our lives and daily experiences. And it’s thanks to the rigorous test rigs provided by National Instruments that when we begin to rely on the new technology, it will function as it should.
National Instruments is enabling testing of this cutting-edge technology to be carried out quickly, efficiently, and with significant savings in time and resources.
Modular hardware rigs combine with powerful software and interface technologies to allow high levels of test equipment re-use, and advanced models to be quickly constructed.
To learn more about National Instruments’s specialized testing hardware and software solutions, get in touch with a representative today.