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How to test and analyze IP throughput on 5G networks

The promise of 5G is increased speed and capacity through extended mobile broadband (eMBB), but significant challenges exist in terms of spectrum availability which broadly divides 5G deployments into Sub 6GHz and mmWave bands. In 3GPP Release 15, FR1 describes the sub-6GHz spectrum while FR2 describes the range above 24GHz which extends to 100GHz – and beyond. Spectrum therefore has a significant effect on the throughput that 5G networks can achieve.

FR1 use cases
In FR1, a typical solution use case is customer premise equipment (CPE) such as a router that contains a SIM card. Another solution set is MIFI solutions where the wireless router acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect a variety of devices to the internet. Smartphones, tablets, eBooks and other portable devices are all connected. Functionality is the same as Wi-Fi modems, but lower power is required. Design is simplified for Quectel customers that use the QuecOpen solution that provides more interfaces. A third use case is the outdoor unit (ODU) which are weatherproofed and tower mounted. Finally, laptops can insert a module on the motherboard and connect via a SIM card.

Testing for maximized throughput
Testing the module throughput is essential for all these cases and relies on a consistent environment with 5G instruments. The PC is connected to the test equipment using fiber which ensures the network is powerful enough for data transfer. The universal switching mode (UXM) and the evaluation board (EVB) and the PC comprise a typical setup. Once this is in place the USB driver needs to be installed and the data connection set up. The throughput is tested using iperf and then the throughput is compared with the specification. One click tools should be used in a step-by-step way to ensure the customer can complete the verification.

FR2 use cases
In FR2, in theory, 30-300GHz bands are available but today bands are typically utilized in the 24GHz to 100GHz spectrum range. Popular applications include fixed wireless access (FWA) in which the 5G mmWave connection provides an alternative to fiber cable. The limitation is distance and compared to FR1 range is smaller but high throughput over smaller distances can readily be achieved and this is of particular appeal where fiber is unavailable.

Another use case is smart factory. Here, eMBB and ultra-reliable low latency communication (URLLC) can be enabled by 5G to enable massive machine type communication (mMTC). Use cases involve uploading data using eMBB, controlling robots using URLLC and enabling communication between larger number of sensors using mMTC.

Uplink data testing
In a scenario in which a 5G connection has failed, it is necessary to test to identify and solve the problem. First, the test information and analysis procedure is verified and then modified with the different distance and angle between device under test (DUT) and horn angle. The test environment should be well calibrated and the beam should be considered as far field.

These and other methods to take advantage of Quectel’s comprehensive portfolio of 5G smart modules plus Quectel’s expertise in test, analysis and verification were detailed in a recent Quectel Masterclass in which filed application engineers detailed the challenges involved in testing to verify IP throughput in 5G networks. The speakers detailed how Quectel can help the test process and how both 5G mmWave and sub-6GHz bands are presenting additional complexities.

The Masterclass, titled: Quectel Masterclass: APAC No2 – IP Throughput with 5G instruments, can be listened to here.

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