Test and Measurement: Rohde & Schwarz set to demo 5G Broadcast, wins China Mobile deal

Rohde & Schwarz has won a third consecutive contract with China Mobile for frequency scanners to assist in 5G deployments, and the test company is heading into Mobile World Congress Barcelona set to demonstrate end-to-end live streaming demonstration via 5G Broadcast at Mobile World Congress 2022.

Rohde & Schwarz says that its R&S TSME6 has been part of preparation and deployment of 5G since its early deployments. The scanners are used for checking that 5G frequencies are clear for use, for interference hunting, for network optimization and for network performance testing.

In China in particular — which claims to have more than 70% of existing 5G base stations — there are plans for millions more cell sites over the next few years, both in low and mid-band frequencies. “The long-term coexistence of 4G and 5G base stations will make network environments more and more complex,” Rohde said in a release. “Since 2G and 3G will gradually be phased out, frequency clearance is very important in China right now.”

Rohde said that it won 70% of the project share, and noted that this is the third consecutive time that its frequency scanners have won tenders from China Mobile.

The test company has also put together a live demo of 5G Broadcast/Multicast for MWC, delivering live-streamed content to smartphones. The content will be provided to attendees in the Fira using sectorized antenna systems supplied by Cellnex Telecom, re-transmitting a 5G Broadcast signal over-the-air to smartphones provided by Qualcomm Technologies, operating with the UHF band. R&S said that the 5G Broadcast solution will operate in Receive-Only Mode, Free-to-Air and using SIM-free reception — so the device doesn’t need an additional chipset or SIM in order to receive the 5G Broadcast signals.

“5G Broadcast opens up an exciting new world for the mobile communication ecosystem, bringing with it unrivaled user experience, new revenue opportunities and innovative service models,” said Manfred Reitmeier, VP of broadcasting and amplifier systems at Rohde & Schwarz. He added that the demo is “a live experience that gives MWC2022 attendees a taste of what is now possible – and we are only just scratching the surface of the potential with 5G.”

Lorenzo Casaccia, VP of technical standards and intellectual property at Qualcomm, called the demo “a unique showcase of the delivery of digital TV content over 3GPP standardized technology. … Our new 5G R&D technology demonstration at Mobile World Congress proves this isn’t just possible, it’s here today on the show floor for all to experience and, perhaps most importantly, without the need for additional chipsets.”

In other test news:

Viavi Solutions has expanded its Open RAN test portfolio to include performance validation of the RAN Intelligent Controller under various scenarios (including testing the functionality of rApps and xApps), testing any Open RAN node in the cloud, and providing a “streamlined” version of its TM500 network tester, dubbed “TMLite” on a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) service, as well as test-as-a-service.

Viavi said it will be demonstrating several joint solutions with partners AMD, Ericsson and Rohde & Schwarz at Mobile World Congress Barcelona. The company’s recently expanded Open RAN-related ecosystem also includes working with Capgemini on lab testing-as-a-service for Open RAN implementations.

“Open RAN is moving out of the lab into the real world, facing the messy complexities of mapping theoretically sound technologies and architectures to a wide diversity of implementation scenarios,” said Viavi CTO Sameh Yamany. “VIAVI has harnessed its decades of leadership in test tools for cellular and virtual networks, our critical role in industry organizations such as the O-RAN ALLIANCE, and our relationships with other major vendors to ensure our customers have access to tailored and best-of-breed solutions.”

PCTel reported its fourth-quarter earnings, notching revenues of $26 million for the quarter — up nearly 23% year-over-year — and full-year revenues of $87.8 million, 13.4% higher than the previous year. The company’s antenna and industrial IoT device revenues were nearly 25% higher for 2021, while its test and measurement revenues dropped 6.8% compared to 2020. Net income was $320,000 for the quarter and $153,000 for the year.

“We’re pleased with our strong performance in the fourth quarter with record orders and backlog, most of which will convert to revenue in the first half of 2022,” said CEO David Neumann in a statement. “Our strategies to expand in Europe through acquisitions, to increase our use of channel partners and to invest in new products such as industrial IoT devices and advanced scanning receivers contributed to our success in 2021 and will generate growth for years to come.”

-In interesting test-tangential news this week, Iris Automation received official permission from the city of Reno to fly autonomous drones beyond-line-of-sight, with no visual observers or other detection equipment on the ground. Iris is working with Reno’s fire department on testing is aimed at bolstering the department’s use of drones for search-and-rescue purposes, particularly in water rescues involving the Truckee River. Te tests will take place in a rural, unpopulated area south of Reno, to explore the use of UAVs in but the intent is ultimately to move such activity over populated areas. Reno is part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s BEYOND program, designed to assist the agency in establishing safety and performance standards for beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations for UAVs. Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said the city “[intends] this to be our first of many [such] waivers” as part of the public-private collaboration around testing and development of autonomous drones.

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