HELSINKI —  As various network operators roll out their networks for implementing early 5G trials, test equipment manufacturer Rohde & Schwarz has launched what it says is the world’s first commercially available 5G New Radio (5G NR) network measurement solution.

Over the last week, Verizon completed an over-the-air data transmission on a commercial 5G network in Washington, D.C., using Nokia radio equipment. The signal was sent over commercially deployed Nokia radio equipment and Verizon’s millimeter-wave spectrum and 5G network core to a Nokia test van parked in downtown Washington.

In Minneapolis, Verizon, Ericsson, and Qualcomm said that they completed the first end-to-end call with a smartphone form-factor test device on a commercial 3GPP 5G NR network. The successful test demonstrated the experience that consumers will eventually have on a commercial 5G NR network.

The companies were able to perform several tests over the 5G connection, including accessing the internet. The transmissions were completed over Verizon’s 39-GHz spectrum and an Ericsson millimeter-wave radio through the Ericsson non-standalone Option 3x core. The Qualcomm form-factor test device included an integrated Snapdragon X50 5G modem and RF subsystem.

And in Finland, Telia launched a pre-commercial 5G network in the city center of Helsinki. The first base stations are now operational, and the first phase of the rollout will continue during the autumn. Telia’s 5G network operates on test frequencies issued by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority. Full-scale commercial operation will be possible in 2019 after the 3.5-GHz 5G frequency auction has been conducted in Finland.

Telia's 5G program is now at a point at which all 5G network components are available from 3GPP specification-based radio access to high-capacity IP networks, virtualized core, and the massive computing capacity offered by Telia Helsinki Data Center. Telia partnered with Nokia on deployment of its 5G base stations in Finland using Nokia AirScale radio access equipment.

Addressing the task of network planning and rollout, Rohde & Schwarz has introduced a commercially available 5G NR network measurement solution enabling users in the 5G network ecosystem as well as regulators to measure 5G NR network coverage accurately. The tester will also allow users to verify the correct operation of beamforming and interworking between 5G and other technologies.

The solution consists of a network scanner with matching 5G NR scanning software and the R&S ROMES4 drive test software suite. The solution has been tried and tested in the field in pre-commercial 5G NR network trials conducted by Rohde & Schwarz in support of a Tier 1 operator and a global 5G NR infrastructure supplier (R&S did not name these customers).

Customers can choose between two test scanners: the R&S TSME6 ultracompact drive test scanner or the R&S TSMA6 autonomous mobile network scanner featuring a built-in network PC. Both test scanners equipped with the 5G NR scanning software cover both standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) network architectures. In addition, the R&S ROMES4 drive test software provides analysis and visualization of all existing 3GPP technologies such as GSM, UMTS/HSPA, and LTE, including IoT technologies NB-IoT and LTE-M.

The drive test software runs on either the controlling laptop when used with the R&S TSME6 or the built-in network PC of the R&S TSMA6, leaving measurement control to a simple tablet.

Field measurements are facilitated by combining relevant test equipment with an appropriate antenna in a portable backpack or shoulder bag for efficient drive and walk testing.

Rohde & Schwarz has launched a 5G NR network measurement solution: the R&S TSME6 drive test scanner with 5G NR scanning software. Source: Rohde & Schwarz
Rohde & Schwarz has launched a 5G NR network measurement solution: the R&S TSME6 drive test scanner with 5G NR scanning software.
Source: Rohde & Schwarz

The R&S ROMES4 software suite is designed to connect with 5G NR devices such as evaluation boards, USB dongles, and pre-commercial smartphones as they become available. This allows adopters of 5G NR to gain early insights into a device’s performance and its interaction with real 5G NR networks. Rohde & Schwarz has successfully demonstrated this capability of its network measurement solutions during the introduction of previous mobile communications technologies.

The 5G NR network measurement solution is fully integrated into the Rohde & Schwarz mobile network testing smart platform. This platform provides intuitive and powerful drill-down and analytics functions to maximize the value of the collected measurement data over the entire test cycle from lab verification to field acceptance, troubleshooting, optimization, benchmarking and monitoring.

The R&S TSME6 scanner with R&S TSME6-K50 5G NR scanning software, the R&S TSMA6 scanner with R&S TSMA6-K50 5G NR scanning software, and the R&S ROMES4 drive test software for analysis and visualization of 5G NR and all other mobile technologies are now available from Rohde & Schwarz.

— Nitin Dahad is a European correspondent for EE Times.