This report will examine the benefits, challenges, and emerging solutions for efficient and effective over-the-air testing.
Cell phones were once recognizable by a prominent antenna protruding towards the sky—or rather, to the nearest cell tower. A similar story can be told for vehicles, televisions, and radios. Antennas, for many people, are still visualized in the mind as those long metal sticks that somehow talk to one another.
But those days are long past, and the sophisticated electronics available today utilize much different—and much less visible—antenna technology. It is not an aesthetic choice but rather a necessary adaptation to evolving wireless standards. The latest of these, 5G millimeter wave (mmWave), is a perfect example. Antennas no longer work alone but may be grouped in intelligent arrays that steer their signals in the proper directions, all at frequencies much higher than those typically used in the past.
Ultimately, these changes are improvements for end-users with increasing demands. However, they come at the cost of increased complexity for the designers of wireless equipment and communication networks. In particular, the sophistication of modern wireless systems demands sophisticated over-the-air (OTA) testing and measurements. These tests can be costly, complex, and cumbersome, but they are critical to ensuring proper system performance and conformance to wireless standards.