October 29, 2021
The rollout of 5G presents a strong business case for logistics companies involved in the UE repair market. According to market research firm IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone shipments are expected to reach 1.37 billion units this year – a 7.4% increase. 5G shipments are a primary driver of the 2021 growth, with the U.S. expected to sit second in global market share, according to IDC.
Not everything is smooth sailing, though, for in-house departments at mobile carriers and device manufacturers, as well as third-party logistics houses. Logistic facility managers have to navigate a number of obstacles to ensure profitability and return on investment (ROI). One way to optimize ROI is to implement key test strategies that focus on cost-of-test, speed-of-test, and overall throughput.
Variables Impacting Logistics Profitability
There are variables that UE repair facilities managers must consider to determine the cost of testing a 5G device. Among the biggest expenses are the square footage of the test station in relation to rent, utilities associated with the test station, labor, time to test and the equipment used. Selecting the proper test solution impacts each of those factors.
Test Station Space – Selecting a single instrument test solution can satisfy the needs of logistics facilities and require less bench space. A cost-efficient solution is scalable so it can test 3G, 4G and 5G. By doing so, one test station can support legacy 3G and 4G mobile devices, as well as 5G. It is also necessary because 5G devices support 3G and 4G. One system that can do all three reduces the square footage and utility costs required for testing.
There is an additional space consideration with 5G, due to the integration of millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies. An Over-the-Air (OTA) or compact antenna test range (CATR) test environment has to be created that may include a chamber with a positioner. Not only does this require more space, it increases complexity and costs test station operators.
Labor – Speaking of operators, labor costs can be controlled by “intelligent” instruments. All standards and compliance specifications developed and approved by industry organizations and related updates are handled through software updates to the test instruments. This means that employees do not have to have continuing education courses or advanced training.
A test instrument supplier involved in all areas of the wireless ecosystem has instruments with “bigger brains.” Anritsu collaborates with industry leaders and develops solutions for chip makers, device manufacturers, and mobile operators. This allows us to optimize the testing capabilities of our instruments. The result is test solutions that are easy-to-use so employees conducting the necessary evaluations do so quickly and with fewer keystrokes.
Throughput – By integrating the “intelligence” in the solution, human error is significantly reduced, as well. Reducing human error, as well as providing repeatable measurements, lighten the number of “fake” failures, so fewer devices need to be re-tested. This is one step in increasing the volume of devices that can be evaluated, which ultimately lowers the overall cost-of-test.
As importantly, more accurate testing also means there are fewer “false” passes. Faulty devices, which are a poor look for the mobile operator, device manufacturer, and the logistics facility, are therefore not sold to customers.
Test Time – The faster a device can be verified, the more cost-effective the test system. Anritsu instruments test devices faster than competitive options. Multiply that time savings by the volume of devices that are tested and logistics facilities can realize noticeable improvements in profitability.
Faster test times are particularly important as the number of wireless device channels and use cases increase. Critical testing across numerous test combinations can be performed in a much lower timeframe with the high-speed performance of the Radio Communication Test Station MT8000A (figure 2).
Equipment – Test systems used in a UE repair environment must conduct highly stable and repeatable pass/fail measurements based on a list of specifications provided by mobile operators. The Anritsu 5G Entry Model is the only solution in its class that can perform LTE, 5G New Radio (NR), Frequency Range 1 (FR1) Sub-6 GHz and Frequency Range 2 (FR2) millimeter wave (mmWave) measurements, creating a cost-efficient solution that meets carrier requirements.
Testing needs to be as cost-efficient as possible. This is no easy task for two main reasons – the complexity of the 5G device and the need to test FR1 and FR2. Decision-makers must continuously evaluate their cost of test, especially as it relates FR2.
As mentioned earlier, mmWave frequencies associated with FR2 tests require OTA or CATR environment. OTA configurations are approximately $60,000 each, while a CATR configuration can be as much as $200,000 per station. A cost-efficient test solution such as the entry-level MT8000 helps reduce overall test system costs.
Improve ROI with Dual Test System
Getting 5G UE out the door and into the hands of consumers is imperative for mobile operators. A dual test system that allows two devices to be measured independently and simultaneously helps throughput by cutting test times in half. It also lowers costs by reducing capital outlay on test equipment and annual calibration expenses. Footprint is reduced, as is power consumption, for further benefits.
A dual test system solves the dilemma of addressing FR1/FR2 for 5G while also supporting 3G/4G devices. A single test station that can to accommodate the varied test requirements associated with reverse logistics saves time, money, and space.
Value Beyond Instrumentation
To maintain profit margins and amortize the ROI, logistics managers have to manage expenses as much as possible. Given the projected growth of 5G, extending payment of 5G test systems is a sound strategy. Anritsu has established financial options that include leasing and rent-to-buy programs to create flexibility for logistics operations.
Completing the comprehensive 360-degree solution is engineering support. Anritsu is a true partner to UE repair customers by implementing a “box to the floor” philosophy that includes training workers and providing consulting services.
Logistics facilities need to implement a strategy to address the introduction of 5G mobile devices into the market. They also must have a vision to meet the inevitable added capacity needs of mobile operators as more 5G devices enter the market. Facilities need scalable test solutions that allow for increased testing capacity and throughput or risk losing business, reducing profitability.
To learn more, download our UE Repair white paper.