July 28, 2022
5G mobile device sales surpassed their 4G counterparts earlier this year, based on analysis from Counterpoint Research. The growth is seen around the globe but it is particularly apparent in North America, where 5G devices (Figure 1) accounted for about 73% of purchases.1 Releasing millions of devices into the market takes a coordinated effort between mobile operators, device manufacturers, and 5G UE repair companies (a.k.a logistics).
This synchronization is essential given the investment in 5G by mobile operators, as well as consumers purchasing 5G devices. Without it, UE will not operate according to specification (and customer expectation). Third-party logistics firms are in one sense the last line of defense, as they verify that the devices are ready for market and in full compliance before shipping them out. One main company in the space, Cynergy, relies on a custom solution developed by Anritsu to ensure the operation of each UE.
Cynergy specializes in warranty services, manufacturing, and re-manufacturing of 5G, LTE, GSM, and CDMA2000 mobile phones from a broad spectrum of manufacturers and their product retailers. The company’s Dallas-Fort Worth facility needed an easy-to-operate and dependable RF test system to efficiently verify 5G mobile devices. The solution needed to solve four challenges:
- Speed – Cynergy is contracted to conduct carrier performance tests on a high volume of mobile devices in tight time frames. Because of that, the ability to conduct tests quickly and efficiently was a must for any solution they selected.
- Simplicity – Due to the complexity of the devices under test (DUTs), the solution had to be “intelligent” to accurately and efficiently verify device performance. It must measure how the UE works in 5G Non-standalone (NSA) Frequency Range 1 (FR1) and Frequency Range 2 (FR2) environments, as well as existing LTE.
- Easy Upgrade Path – Given evolving 5G standards, the test solution had to be built on a flexible test platform, so the facility can efficiently expand to meet changing requirements.
- Economical – Like all test environments, maintaining a low cost-of-test was a necessity.
Creating a Custom Test Solution
The criteria set by Cynergy is not unlike those set by many UE Repair companies. Throughput and cost are particularly important in this market segment. Despite the reality that the requirements are not uncommon, it is no easy task to meet them.
One main advantage in creating an effective solution was the experience of the Anritsu team. The engineers in the Custom Solutions group have extensive 4G/5G device verification knowledge from years of working in the wireless market. That acumen was vital in developing a solution to satisfy all the requirements.
A critical component of the system is Anritsu’s M4 custom automation tool, specially designed software that supports 5G and is backwards compatible to 4G/3G/2G. The necessary test plans can be quickly and easily developed through M4, which helps to simplify testing and improve throughput. With the software, test parameters can be met economically. An editor feature operates seamlessly with the M4 graphical user interface (GUI), so test sequences can be easily modified as requirements change.
A Complete Solution
Leveraging expertise in LTE and 5G can also be seen in the Anritsu test instruments that are part of the 5G UE repair solution (Figure 2). The Radio Communication Analyzer MT8821C is used for LTE parametric testing and serves as the 5G NSA anchor, while the Radio Communication Test Station MT8000A supports 5G NSA parametric testing.
The experience of the Anritsu Custom Solutions team also proved advantageous in sourcing the additional system components. For example, a shield box is integrated into the solution because the team understands the advantages it brings in this application compared to an Over-the-Air (OTA) or Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR) chamber. Shield box benefits include:
- Economics – A shield box is more cost efficient than a chamber.
- Footprint – Less space is taken by a shield box compared to an OTA or CATR chamber.
- Ease-of-Use – A shield box is inherently less complex to operate than a chamber with a positioner.
The Anritsu team also integrated a switch assembly into the solution to support the FR2 horn antennas and FR1 antenna. Other hardware elements that round out the solution are a 6000 MHz combiner that integrates an LTE/LTE anchor and FR1, an Ethernet switch and cables, coax interconnects, and dedicated PC.
A complete solution goes beyond the hardware and software, particularly in the 5G UE repair market. Recognizing this, Anritsu provides onsite support for test script development, system deployment, training, and troubleshooting.
Charles B., Engineering Manager, Cynergy, stated the solution and Anritsu team more than met expectations. “The Anritsu system provides a high level of productivity, and the Anritsu application incorporates a simple and well-organized user interface. When technical support is needed, Anritsu is always immediately available,” he said.
Supporting those comments are the results being realized by Cynergy, including:
- Faster Throughput – The Anritsu solution cuts test time by as much as 50%.
- Cost Containment – Automation and user interface ease configuration and customization, reducing the need for technical support.
- Accurate Results – Consulting services, on-site support help create greater result confidence and repeatability.
- Flexibility – Test scripts allow for easy expansion of capabilities to meet needs; supports legacy technologies for 4G/3G device verification.
¹Fierce Wireless; 5G smartphone sales outpace 4G for the first time