June 29, 2022
5G Analyzer
5G Analyzer


5G will push the limits of wireless communications, enabling use cases that rely on Gbps data rates, exceptionally low latency, and very high reliability. These stringent requirements, along with the installation and activation of many new cell sites and small cells, drive mobile network densities. To provide quality of service and ensure network performance, mobile network operators must deploy and validate these 5G sites accurately and efficiently. The move to 5G requires operators to still support, maintain and test existing wireless technologies such as 3G and LTE as well as 5G-NR. This has already become a reality for many carriers, as reflected in a recent EXFO survey where more than 40% of respondents reported a mix of sub-2.4GHz, sub-6GHz and mm Wave frequencies in the wireless bands deployed in their area.

5G presents new challenges for mobile network operators, contractors and field service technicians to validate their networks. The distinction between fiber optic and RF environments is blurring. It’s not clear where one ends and the other begins.

New air interfaces are now deployed that make navigating the RF environment more complex with advanced technologies such as mMIMO and beamforming. There are tighter constraints on network synchronization, and any timing issues affect RF performance. In a time division duplex (TDD) system, there are no user equipment (UEs) transmitting simultaneously over the air, cell sites interfering with each other, handover issues, and slow throughput. Spectrum analysis can be difficult due to the wider bandwidth and more interference falling inside the channel, thus making the troubleshooting process longer. Intermittent signals such as TDD add complexity to spectrum analysis. To deploy 5G faster, the first non-standalone (NSA) 5G installations used 4G uplinks. As 4G was powering these NSA networks, any issues with the 4G network could degrade the 5G experience.

These operational challenges call for new and innovative testing processes. To get the most out of their investment, operators need field-centric RF test solutions that can scale and adapt as their networks change. To address these market requirements, EXFO has developed an innovative modular RF test solution that adapts as the network evolves.