Test & Measurement

Synchronous measurement for 5G mobile network

1st June 2021
Alex Lynn

Anritsu has announced an upgraded synchronous measurement function for the company’s Network Master Pro MT1000A, the small tester supporting mobile networks up to 100Gbps. Fifth generation (5G) networks are expected to support increasing future numbers of applications and services, such as hi-definition video streaming, autonomous driving, IoT sensing, smart factories.

By upgrading this MT1000A test function, Anritsu hopes to facilitate construction of time-synchronous infrastructure, a key technology supporting 5G networks.

The MU100090B is a GNSS disciplined oscillator supporting GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, Beidou and QZSS. It receives signals from each of these GNSS to output a UTC-traceable reference time signal as well as 10MHz signals as a time-synchronous, high-accuracy reference timing supplied to the portable MT1000A, supporting SyncE Wander and PTP tests up to 25Gbps for measuring network time synchronisation.

Furthermore, multiple MT1000A testers at various remote sites can be operated and monitored from the central office using the Site Over Remote Access MX109020A (SORA) software to help quickly pinpoint synchronisation problems.

Deployment of 5G communications networks is spreading due to the advantages of ultra-high speeds, high reliability, low latency, and multiple simultaneous connections in various scenarios. The millimetre-wave (mmWave) band used by 5G technology employs the TDD time-division duplexing technology for managing timing of uplink and downlink signals.

This technology requires that the time at all base stations is precisely synchronised, otherwise interference will cause degraded communications quality. Moreover, achieving a ‘smart’ IoT-based society will require cooperation between devices exchanging position information acquired using OTDOA positioning technology, which is ideal for IoT applications, but high-accuracy position measurement is impossible without high-accuracy time synchronisation between base stations.

Base stations can be synchronised using wired-network technologies called SyncE and PTP, which require both measurement of the network time-synchronisation performance when installing and maintaining a cell site, along with guaranteed network performance by the network operator.

Moreover, the O-RAN Alliance, which is a mainstream promoter of base-station multivendor, increasingly requires tests of overall mobile network time-synchronisation performance to assure interconnectivity.

Time-synchronisation quality is indicated by drift from coordinated universal time (UTC), so precise time-synchronisation measurement requires expensive infrastructure to acquire UTC with high accuracy. This can be a challenge at installation and maintenance of many cell sites.

Anritsu has developed many test instruments for measuring the jitter and wander of transport networks since the SDH/SONET era. Adding this new High Performance GNSS Disciplined Oscillator MU100090B to the line of modules for the portable, battery-operated MT1000A will help simplify on-site I&M time-synchronisation tests.

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