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Network Test Solutions Advance Open Radio Commercialization

June 27, 2024
Rohde & Schwarz and VIAVI offer joint test platforms to promote the deployment of open networks in the U.S. and abroad.

What you'll learn:

  • What are the intentions of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund?
  • How Rohde & Schwarz and VIAVI are addressing development needs with advanced testing solutions.

 

Rohde & Schwarz and VIAVI Solutions are expanding their partnership in creating state-of-the-art O-RAN radio unit (O-RU) testing to address next-generation network development needs of radio manufacturers planning to bid for government funding.

These companies will benefit from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund (PWSCIF) Second Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO 2), which focuses on Open Radio Commercialization and Innovation. The testing solutions deal with conformance, scalability, and energy efficiency.

O-RU Conformance Test

With parameters defined by the O-RAN Alliance, fronthaul conformance tests ensure that O-RUs are interoperable with O-RAN distributed units (O-DUs). Along those lines, the R&S SMW200A vector signal generator, R&S FSVA3000 signal and spectrum analyzer, and the R&S VSE signal analysis software emulate a real-world radio environment by generating, capturing, and analyzing RF signals used for O-RAN applications.

The TM500 O-RU Tester from VIAVI implements the O-DU side of the M-plane and C/U-plane functionality, which is necessary to configure the interface with the O-RU and exchange of I/Q data over the open fronthaul. The O-RU Test Manager application provides a single point of control for the integrated system, simplifying workflow with deeper data inspection and analysis as required. The same setup can be also used to perform conformance cases defined by 3GPP TS 38.141/36.141 for 5G/LTE base stations.

Test Scalability

To facilitate the migration of O-RAN radios to commercial deployment, testing must advance past lab validation of device conformance to enable greater use-case and functionality testing to support the development effort. Such use cases can prioritize simplicity, speed, and cost effectiveness in testing, evaluation, and validation.

To address these growing needs, the compact R&S PVT360A single-box vector signal analyzer (VSA) and vector signal generator (VSG), integrating the VIAVI TM500 O-RU Tester and VIAVI O-RU Test Manager application, create a flexible and scalable solution that provides a cost-effective and cleaner setup.

The platform is well-suited to support research and development efforts requiring multiple test lines to speed commercialization and deployment. In addition, the TM500 O-RU Tester provides direct performance testing such as uplink and downlink data performance and capacity testing.

Network Energy Saving

Since O-RUs take the lion's share when it comes to power consumption in 5G radio access networks, network equipment manufacturers and service providers must prioritize O-RU energy efficiency without sacrificing functionality and performance. A fully automated testbed was created by Rohde & Schwarz and VIAVI to verify O-RU energy efficiency that uses the R&S RTO6 oscilloscope, R&S NGP800 power supply, and the VIAVI TM500 O-RU Tester. 

Emulating the DU, the TM500 O-RU Tester synchronizes and configures the O-RU and offers test scripts to verify the O-RU's energy efficiency under different load conditions. Rohde & Schwarz's test tools can monitor dynamic device activities versus power consumption.

For instance, the oscilloscope monitors energy dynamics under various traffic conditions, monitoring power changes over time while the power supply provides high measurement resolution and accuracy. The O-RU Test Manager Application provides a seamless user experience across the testbed.

According to Alexander Pabst, VP of Wireless Communications at Rohde & Schwarz, “Our joint O-RU conformance test solution has been used to test a wide range of different O-RUs at global plugfests of the O-RAN Alliance over the last years. It has a solid presence at Open Testing and Integration Center (OTIC) labs worldwide and was instrumental in initial O-RU certifications in Asia and most recently also in the first certification in Europe.

"With this long track record, we are now set to serve the efforts of the NTIA to bring forward open radio technology. This is putting the successful collaboration between Rohde & Schwarz and VIAVI to the next level.”

Ian Langley, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Wireless Business Unit at VIAVI, added, “Rohde & Schwarz and VIAVI are proud to support the NTIA Open RAN Innovation and Commercialization based on our best-of-breed approach with a unified customer experience. Since we first began offering O-RU conformance testing, open radios have advanced significantly, and test requirements—from scalability for use across the development cycle, to energy saving—have become critical. We are pleased to expand our partnership into these new areas.”

Related links:

 

 

About the Author

Alix Paultre | Editor-at-Large, Microwaves & RF

Alix is Editor-at-Large for Microwaves & RF

An Army veteran, Alix Paultre was a signals intelligence soldier on the East/West German border in the early ‘80s, and eventually wound up helping launch and run a publication on consumer electronics for the U.S. military stationed in Europe. Alix first began in this industry in 1998 at Electronic Products magazine, and since then has worked for a variety of publications, most recently as Editor-in-Chief of Power Systems Design.

Alix currently lives in Wiesbaden, Germany.

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