Platform-based systems provider National Instruments (NI) has partnered with telecommunications giant AT&T to develop a 5G mmWave channel measurement tool.

The channel sounder, nicknamed within AT&T as the "Porcupine," provides real-time channel parameter measurement and monitoring capability. The channel sounder is designed by AT&T and uses an architecture based on NI’s mmWave Transceiver System.

Unlike other spectrum measurement tools, AT&T said its channel sounder uniquely captures channel measurements where all the data is acquired and processed in real time. Other channel sounding approaches capture raw data and post process to characterise the channel while only giving one-measurement every 15 minutes, while the Porcupine can provide about 6,000 measurements in that time.

The capability of real-time measurement eliminates the need to repeat experiments or to adjust the equipment to take multiple measurements from one location, according to the company. Porcupine also allows the measurement of 5G mmWave frequencies via drive testing, a capability which has been out of reach for other mmWave channel sounders in the past.

As the 5G ecosystem looks at new use cases for 5G such as assisted driving, connected car, self-driving cars and more, the ability to study and model vehicular channels will become ever more critical.

"The combination of PXIe and LabVIEW FPGA provided the bandwidth, data and signal processing capability, and flexibility necessary to meet the requirements of mmWave and expedite 5G deployment," said James Kimery, director of RF research and SDR marketing at NI.