An increasing reliance on wireless technology is leading to a need for 5G wireless technology and networks. However, this also leads to a need for greater performance than was previously possible in order for users to be able to have wireless mobile internet access anywhere and any time. But what effect will this have on 5G SAR testing?
What is 5G?
5G simply refers to the latest generation of technology, which in this case is the 5th generation following 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G. Each generation of technology has been defined by how quickly it can transmit data as well as the encoding methods that make it incompatible with the generation that came before.
1G was the analog era of cellular technology, while 2G was defined by early digital technologies like CDMA, GSM, and TDMA. 3G was defined by EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS as well as increasing data transmission speeds from 200kbps to only a few megabits per second. 4G cellular involved technology like WiMAX and LTE, and 5G is defined by data speeds quicker than any generation before, decreased latency, and an ability to connect to more devices than 4G could allow. This new technology will enable a network that can effectively connect machines, objects, and devices while providing higher performance and greater efficiency.
However, will new technologies cause a need for change when it comes to 5G SAR testing?
5G SAR Testing
Of course, similar to how previous generations of technology have required changes in testing, 5G SAR testing is no exception. Because each generation is increasingly complex, SAR testing has and will have to adapt.
It’s anticipated that 5G speeds will be 10 to 100 times faster than 4G speeds with significantly lower latency than 4G. This increased speed places higher demands on SAR testing. SAR testing labs face a challenge in meeting the expected test requirements of 5G wireless systems. This is due not only to the need to achieve wide bandwidths and high-performance levels in its many components, but also because of the need to implement technologies like millimeter-wave frequencies, multiple-input multiple-out (MIMO) antennas, and phased-array antennas. In addition to this, signals are transmitted and received in ways that are different from earlier generations because they use phased-array techniques and MIMO antennas, which require multiple antennas in a single housing. This will also impact the requirements of SAR testing and increase a need for measurement gear that includes multiple channels and enhanced measurement speeds in order to scan and process multiple signals with varying modulation formats.
Over-the-air (OTA) testing is also a requirement for 5G testing. But what is OTA testing?
OTA testing is a method that is used to forecast the performance and reliability of wireless devices in the real world. When conducting OTA testing, the device being tested is placed in a free space environment within a test chamber, which is where real-life situations are simulated. This device is then subjected to multiple test conditions to observe how it responds to each situation.
This testing measures the device’s signal path and antenna performance in order to ensure that the tested device will be able to perform as intended. It’s necessary to perform this test because it’s possible for the operation of a wireless device to degrade when used in the real world either due to its design or other various reasons.
It’s crucial to perform this test for phones, tablets, or networked machine devices to ensure that accessories or other products won’t degrade their over-the-air performance. OTA tests also certify some products according to the standards of the test and most IoT and M2M device manufacturers require that products are OTA certified in order to reduce compliance complexity, avoid potentially costly design errors, and meet manufacturing schedules.
OTA and Other Testing Requirements
Now that we know what OTA testing refers to, we can talk about how this affects 5G SAR testing. In products that use 5G technology, it may be possible to have devices that include phased antenna arrays of 4-by-4 or 8-by-8 antenna elements, for example, and it’s necessary to figure out how to test devices for SAR based on the OTA testing.
There are three different distances of testing: near-field reactive, near-field radiative, and far-field.
- Near-field reactive testing is close enough that physical obstructions could affect the signal.
- Near-field radiative is testing in which an obstacle may still be able to distort the signal
- Far-field is testing in which the device’s signal simply radiates out with a square-law power decay.
A particular concern in 5G SAR testing is all testing is conducted in the near-field reactive region.
Testing radiated signals also raise the challenge of ensuring that stray signals won’t obscure 5G SAR testing results. It’s necessary to figure out how to test 5G devices in a functional environment that won’t have outside interference or allow signals to be transmitted externally. This requires the use of testing chambers for 5G SAR testing.
Overall, 5G SAR testing does require changes in how this testing is conducted.
How RF Exposure Lab Can Help With Your 5G SAR Testing Needs
5G SAR testing and FCC requirements and regulations are complicated and can be difficult to navigate. It can be confusing and time-consuming to figure out which requirements and tests apply to your product. It’s risky to maneuver through the maze of RF compliance testing without help from experts.
RF Exposure Lab has considerable experience and expertise in RF compliance testing for global markets. Jay Moulton, Chief Engineer, was even involved in creating the testing and methodology that has been used to establish today’s FCC requirements. We also remain up-to-date on the latest regulation changes to ensure we only perform relevant tests.
We are the only standalone SAR testing lab in the United States and apart from offering testing services for client products, we also provide design suggestions for manufacturers to guarantee that they meet all RF compliance standards before completing the design process.
With help from RF Exposure Lab, you can avoid costly compliance failures and product redesigns, which will allow you to save money and get your product on the market as quickly as possible. For RF compliance testing provided with speed, expertise, accuracy, and integrity, contact us today.