LTE Unlicensed—The Opportunity and the Challenges
The growing need for capacity and the diminishing amount of unused spectrum has generated interest in tapping into the unlicensed spectrum for LTE i.e. LTE unlicensed. There is considerable activity and interest relevant to LTE unlicensed across the entire industry:
- Cellular—Operators, handset OEMs, chipset vendors, network equipment providers
- Wi-Fi—Internet service providers (ISPs), chipset providers, access point providers
- Others—End user applications that might use Wi-Fi connectivity, or anyone using the same unlicensed spectrum, such as Bluetooth
There are different aspects to testing LTE unlicensed:
- Conformance testing
- Performance testing
- Interoperability testing
- Coexistence testing
Coexistence testing, perhaps the most critical focus in the industry right now, seeks to ensure that LTE unlicensed can coexist harmoniously with other technologies without affecting their performance. Coexistence means not just fair sharing among various LTE unlicensed networks but, even more importantly, coexistence of LTE unlicensed with other technologies such as Wi-Fi.
Azimuth's LTE Unlicensed Testing Solutions
Azimuth offers a family of solutions built on the ACE channel emulators—the scalable RF Platform, Spider—for testing
- Link-level performance of cellular and Wi-Fi radio
- System-level performance and coexistence
Spider™ Unlicensed is a fully automated, self-contained solution built on the Spider™ platform and designed specifically for testing LTE unlicensed.
The first version, geared toward the LTE-U, follows the LTE-U Forum’s supplementary downlink (SDL) coexistence test plan. Subsequent versions will focus on other flavors of LTE unlicensed such as LTE\LAA (License Assisted Access), LWA (LTE Wi-Fi aggregation), or test plans from other forums such as the Wi-Fi Alliance and 3GPP.
The Spider™ Unlicensed is a purpose-built yet flexible and scalable solution.
The Spider™ Unlicensed features:
- A test suite for the LTE-U Forum SDL coexistence test plan
- Control and automation of the entire test-bed: Device under test (small cell), access points, handsets, traffic sources, diagnostic monitor/sniffer, etc.
- Fully automated execution of the test case and reporting based on the test plan criteria