Using Different Signal Paths to Make Accurate 5G mmWave Measurements
5G promises dramatic improvements over previous generations of wireless communications technology, particularly in speed, latency, bandwidth, and quality. Most of the gain comes from the utilization of 5G Frequency Range 2 (FR2) found in millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum.
mmWave spectrum is attractive for use in wireless communications because these bands are relatively under-utilized, meaning there is plenty of available bandwidth. mmWave transmissions are smaller than other wireless communications signals, making them ideal for high-speed transmissions in dense urban areas, where many devices operate in close proximity.
However, mmWave’s advantages for 5G communications are partially offset by several technical challenges. For starters, mmWave does not propagate very far — mmWave transmissions are easily absorbed by the atmosphere and do not penetrate trees, building walls, and other infrastructure. Accurately measuring the performance of mmWave devices with over-the-air (OTA) test equipment and methodologies is also difficult. The wide bandwidth of mmWave — which is such an attractive feature for 5G communications — also degrades the signal-to-noise (SNR) because the energy from the signal spreads across the bandwidth. Finally, mmWave uses higher-order modulation schemes to improve spectral efficiency, which in turn requires improvements in error vector magnitude (EVM) performance.
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