Application Notes

Real-Time Spectrum

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Application Note Practical Uses for a Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer in 5G, LTE, and Wi-Fi Spectrum Monitoring The measurement fundamental to all spectrum analyzers is their ability to measure power inside a given bandwidth at a particular frequency and to display those measurements across a frequency span. Over time, various features beyond simple power measurements were added to provide additional visibility into signal behavior. Features such as max/min hold traces, different types of power detectors (peak and negative peak), and increased sweep speeds expanded the spectrum analyzers' capabilities and utility. Despite all the modern features and advances, the conventional spectrum analyzer has limitations when used to display certain types of signals or attempting to capture signal anomalies. Those limitations are found in two key areas: signal power density and visualization of fast digital signals. This is where the strength of a real-time spectrum analyzer (RTSA) becomes apparent. Figure 1 highlights the difference between a conventional spectrum analyzer trace and an RTSA spectrum used to view a 5G NR downlink at 28 GHz. By default, the RTSA captures the full spectrum occupancy of the signal, whereas the conventional, swept-tuned analyzer needs to use a gated sweep to capture the time varying signal. Figure 1. A conventional spectrum analyzer display of a 28 GHz 5G NR downlink (left) and the same signal displayed on an RTSA (right).

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