Global Antenna Module Manufacturer Accelerates 5G mmWave Development

The race to innovate and launch the next generation of communication technology — 5G — has never been more competitive. With the proliferation of digitally connected smart devices — from cars to phones to the Internet of Things (IoT) — the world is eager for faster, better communications technology.

Global Antenna Module Manufacturer Accelerates 5G mmWave Development
Global Antenna Module Manufacturer Accelerates 5G mmWave Development

Several well-known global companies are vying for their share of the 5G communications market. Companies of all sizes are working to enhance and refine their products and solutions to stake a claim in their segment of the market. With competition this fierce, all vendors need technical help — partnerships form both organically and out of necessity. These partnerships create an ecosystem of organizations that ultimately change the way the world communicates.

A global antenna module manufacturer specializing in 5G communications, IoT, big data, and blockchain storage needed a partner to accelerate its development process to meet a challenging product release target. The company was working on beamforming technologies for millimeter-wave (mmWave) antenna modules using 5G. They had very limited 5G expertise and had less than one month until the release of their new product.

In brief: Company: global antenna module manufacturer

Key Issues:

  • increasing antenna bandwidth and data rates using mmWave frequencies
  • limited 5G expertise
  • <1 month till new product introduction (NPI)

Solutions:

  • 5G R&D Test Bed
  • N5244B PNA-X microwave network analyzer

Results:

  • reduced R&D development time by more than 50%
  • accelerated release plan by 2 months

Content Summary

Key Issues: Streamlining 5G mmWave Testing to Win the 5G Race
Solutions: Overcoming the Complexity of 5G mmWave Testing
Performance Made Simple
Training and Support: Going Beyond Delivering Products
The Result: Accelerating R&D for Faster Time to Market
Innovating for the Future of Global Communications

Key Issues: Streamlining 5G mmWave Testing to Win the 5G Race

At the end of 2017, most device manufacturers and key mobile network operators began to research the technology. This manufacturer needed to perform 5G mmWave measurements to secure its position as a market leader in antenna modules.

The company wanted to be a market leader with its 5G antenna solution and needed a solution for mmWave frequencies and system-level testing. Their engineers were using new beamforming technology to increase antenna bandwidth and data rates using frequencies in the mmWave frequency range. At the time, 5G was very new. The engineering team was not familiar with the fundamentals and technical requirements of 5G.

This antenna module manufacturer also had an urgent deadline to procure a mmWave signal generator, signal analyzer, and network analyzer for RF performance testing. It had committed to present at a public seminar showcasing its new product introduction to key customers in just one month.

In the initial research and development (R&D) stage, their engineers used a solution from a different test equipment manufacturer. However, the network analyzer was not suitable for multiple purposes like a mixer test, noise figure, and intermodulation distortion measurement. It did not have the functionality necessary to go to the market successfully. They quickly needed a new, effective solution.

Solutions: Overcoming the Complexity of 5G mmWave Testing

Performance Made Simple

Technical discussions held at an early stage with Keysight’s 5G leadership team helped them select Keysight’s mmWave signal generator/analyzer solution that addressed their requirements. Additional discussions with Keysight’s 5G leadership and technical team led to the development of a total solution that included the 5G R&D Test Bed and electronic measurement products. The 5G R&D Test Bed configuration supports 3GPP new radio (NR) signal creation up to 44 GHz with traditional bench-top spectrum analysis up to 50 GHz. Both instruments support integrated 1 GHz bandwidth capability.

Figure 1. Keysight’s 5G R&D Test Bed solution
Figure 1. Keysight’s 5G R&D Test Bed solution

Keysight’s field team demonstrated the value of Keysight’s N5244B PNA network analyzer by showcasing how it addressed all their test requirements. The network analyzer has a simple hardware connection and various software applications. It simplifies test stations by replacing racks of equipment to reduce test time. Performing 5G measurements in the mmWave frequency range are time-consuming.

With Keysight’s network analyzer, the manufacturer’s engineers were able to develop the exact performance they needed for their 5G antenna module. These achievements are made possible by the world’s widest range of single-connection measurement applications. While the requested turnaround time for the test solution was challenging, Keysight’s year of experience in mmWave measurement and analysis, signal generation, and network analysis was a significant advantage.

Figure 2. Front and back panels of the N5244B PNA-X network analyzer
Figure 2. Front and back panels of the N5244B PNA-X network analyzer

Figure 2. Front and back panels of the N5244B PNA-X network analyzer

Training and Support: Going Beyond Delivering Products

Since this antenna module manufacturer needed a fast turnaround for this project, it was not enough to rely on the manufacturing side to deliver the 5G solution. Their engineers also required the knowledge necessary to deploy, deliver, and make the most of their new solution.

Keysight’s team of 5G experts met at their facility to deliver fundamental 5G training to their engineers. Our technical team visited the R&D team several times to provide additional support in the form of consultations alongside the solution itself.

The Result: Accelerating R&D for Faster Time to Market

With Keysight’s complete solution consisting of a signal generator, a signal analyzer, and a network analyzer, this antenna module manufacturer met their tight R&D schedule. As a result, they held their technical seminar and published their press release on time.

The manufacturer was also able to maintain its competitive market position. The company started R&D activities on components operating at frequencies up to 44 GHz, covering the frequency requirements of multiple countries. The N5244B PNA network analyzer satisfied all their test requirements with a simple hardware connection and various software applications.

With the multiple functionalities of the network analyzer, they reduced the time it took to test their antenna module from 2-3 months to less than a month — more than 50% in time savings. Accelerating their R&D release plan also enabled them to recognize revenue from this product sooner. A month after the public release, they received their first order.

Innovating for the Future of Global Communications

In such a highly competitive space like 5G communications, it is important to know your strengths. Keysight has been a key player in the 5G space because of our deep and long-standing expertise in the market. Our relationships and partnerships with industry leaders pre-date the launch of 5G.

Keysight’s 5G solutions span the entire product development workflow from design through manufacturing to deployment. Our engineers and experts can help you design, test, and deliver 5G-compliant, high-performance systems. Many engineers struggle with the complexity of 5G. Our insights help you to increase the speed of product and solution development while reducing risks.

Partnerships like the one between Keysight and this antenna module manufacturer help both companies reach their full potential and bring innovative ideas, products, and solutions to the marketplace. Adapting to 5G technology is a daunting challenge. That is where a true partner like Keysight comes in to help you design and test your 5G products and get to market faster.

Source: Keysight Technologies

Thomas Apel Published by Thomas Apel

, a dynamic and self-motivated information technology architect, with a thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to system and network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. I enjoy the technical writing process and answering readers' comments included.