Surging fiber demand and operators' efforts to prepare for the impending arrival of 5G is driving vendors to develop new tools for technicians tasked with deploying the cable that supports these transformative infrastructures.
Service providers are expanding to higher frequency bands, with several vendors and CSPs (including AT&T, Softbank, U.S. Cellular and Verizon) already conducting trials of 5G radios in the 28 GHz spectrum. As providers incorporate these higher frequencies, they need to equip their technicians with new tools (See Techs Need New Tools for Next-Gen Networks.)
"5G will require multiple aspects of the network -- from the air interface to the core -- to be upgraded and enhanced, requiring upgrades to fiber infrastructure, fronthaul, high-speed backhaul, automation and virtualization," Kashif Hussain, Wireless Solutions director at Viavi Solutions Inc. , told UBB2020.
To address these needs, Viavi Solutions extended capabilities of its CellAdvisor JD700B Series of base station analyzers to analyze spectrum and interference of 5G signals in 28 GHz frequency bands. The downconverter for the CellAdvisor JD700B series allows technicians to use the same platform to conduct 5G's higher, more complex wavelengths.
"Our customers are conducting 5G trials while serving hundreds of millions of subscribers on existing networks. They would prefer to minimize cost and complexity by using test and measurement systems their technicians and contractors already know," said Kevin Oliver, vice president and general manager, Converged Instruments and Virtual Test at Viavi Solutions, in a statement
The growing number of user devices, complexity of networks and adoption of ultra-broadband are not the only reasons service providers and their contractor partners seek increasingly sophisticated yet easy-to-use tools for diagnosis, testing and analysis, said Hussain.
"By using field test solutions that offer workflow management and automation, low-skilled technicians can quickly and accurately test fiber and coax interfaces. Cell site installation and maintenance can be extremely challenging and time-consuming, traditionally requiring skilled field technicians," he said. "As service providers seek to reduce opex costs, there is a trend toward a less skilled workforce and more use of third-party contractors, necessitating field testing tools that are faster and easier to use."
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.