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Defeat Interference Problems with Real-Time Spectrum Analysis

Keysight's FieldFox analyzers

As the number of wireless technologies in communication networks continues to increase, overcoming RF/microwave interference has become more of a challenge. Quality of service is determined by the extent of interference management. Real-time spectrum analysis (RTSA) enables users to detect challenging signals and solve network problems, making RTSA essential for field testing. In the application note, "Overcoming RF & MW Interference Challenges in the Field," Keysight Technologies discusses interference in various networks before delving into RTSA technology and its key performance indicators.

The note begins with a description of interference in commercial wireless networks; both internal and external interference are explained. LTE networks, which must have a sophisticated and efficient interference management scheme, are examined in detail. Microwave backhaul is then discussed, with the application note stating that approximately 50% of the world’s base stations are connected to backhaul with a microwave radio. Microwave radio network interference can be produced by reflection and refraction, as well as the usage of unlicensed frequency bands. The challenges associated with aerospace and defense communication systems and public safety systems are explained as well.

Some of the shortcomings of traditional interference analysis are examined. Traditional swept-tuned and FFT spectrum analyzers can effectively detect a relatively constant signal. However, these analyzers are less effective when measuring random bursty signals, narrow pulses, or signals with duration based on network traffic conditions. Detecting such challenging signals can be achieved by utilizing RTSA, which can detect transient signals, dynamic signals, and RF pulses within a specific bandwidth.

Several important RTSA performance indicators are mentioned, such as real-time bandwidth, minimum signal duration for 100% probability of intercept (POI), and dynamic range. Moreover, two types of challenging interference in the field—co-channel and uplink interference—are touched upon, along with an explanation of how RTSA can help detect both types. The application note also states that component failures lead to many instances of interference, with further discussion of how component-based problems can be prevented. Lastly, the document concludes with a description of Keysight’s FieldFox handheld analyzers.

Keysight Technologies, 1400 Fountaingrove Pkwy., Santa Rosa, CA 95403; (707) 577-2663

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