OTA icon representing an active radio mast

Over-the-Air (OTA) Testing

Tests according to a wide range of requirements and specifications

Over-the-air (OTA) testing proves the performance and reliability of wireless devices and their antennas and other components.

Measurements like Total Radiated Power (TRP) and Total Isotropic Sensitivity (TIS) performed in the product’s application field validate its compliance with specified standards.

OTA testing gives wireless device manufacturers and distributors the assurance that their products not only meet performance and regulatory requirements but also are ready to be sold on the market.

CETECOM has the competency, capabilities, and capacity
to support the most demanding product launches in a connected world.

For GSM, UMTS, LTE, and now 5G, CETECOM has been at the forefront of wireless testing solutions. We are your reliable and trusted partner throughout a product’s lifecycle, validating its quality and performance and helping to speed your time to market. Our OTA testing team of industry veterans runs a double-shift operation to deliver fast turnaround times and laser-accurate results for the Device Under Test (DUT).

Our OTA Chambers Produce Reliable Results

OTA test setup in the laboratory

We have state-of-the-art OTA testing facilities in the Silicon Valley (California, USA) and Germany. Our Silicon Valley site hosts seven OTA anechoic chambers to test products including radio technology, each with multiple testing capabilities. This capacity and flexibility enable us to serve you sooner and shorten your testing times.

Silicon Valley OTA chamber capabilities include:

  • 5G FR1 and FR2 mmWave
  • Carrier aggregation including combinations with 5CA and NR
  • CAT M1
  • NB IoT
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • MIMO
  • GSM/UMTS/LTE frequencies

Additionally, our chambers support OTA testing using head, hand, and forearm phantoms to closely represent the way wireless devices are actually used. This type of testing provides a practical analysis of the Over-the-Air (OTA) performance and requirements from a product design perspective.

OTA chamber capabilities in Germany include:

  • Full 3D OTA testing for cars and motorcycles
  • Special antenna tests: circular polarized down to MHz range
  • Special antenna tests: radar beam details, e.g., for 79 GHz radar devices
  • Support for frequency range up to 500 GHz
  • 3D active tests with base station simulators for mobile phones
  • Passive antenna testing (e.g., matching, efficiency, 3D pattern, circular polarized)
  • Vodafone specification for equipment via RF performance 2G and 3G v2.5
  • Vodafone OTA RF performance requirements for LTE v5.1
  • CTIA Certification Test Plan for SISO OTA Performance v3.9

Your Single Source for a Wide Range of OTA Testing solutions

CETECOM is CTIA-authorized and an expert in the latest test plans from the largest U.S. network operators. Our engineers also support R&D consulting services such as customer-tailored pretesting and troubleshooting.

Our OTA testing spans a broad range of product segments. Chief among them:

Smartphones.

We are a preferred lab for the top U.S. carriers and, in some cases, the exclusive lab for OTA testing. We know each carrier’s requirements and can certify multiple carriers at the same time, accelerating your speed to market.

Consumer electronics (IoT).

Building IoT-capable devices can be tricky. CETECOM can connect you with some of the industry’s best design houses, module makers, antenna manufacturers, and other companies skilled in successful product launches.

Networking equipment makers.

Industrial and commercial routers and access points are becoming increasingly complex. Multiple technologies (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE/4G, 5G) on a single device can be challenging. Our extensive experience with these types of devices and the professional power of our dedicated experts provides assurance that your device will be tested efficiently and reliably.

Telematics systems, automotive and aviation.

Fleet telematics systems have evolved from providing simple vehicle location information to producing pipelines of telecommunications and informatics data (for example, turn-by-turn navigation and vehicle diagnostics). In addition to these types of telematics systems, CETECOM performs telematics testing on infotainment systems (for example, music streaming and Bluetooth connectivity including data security) from a variety of tier 1 suppliers to the automotive industry. Our engineers will guide you through the telematics testing process.

You can trust CETECOM as the experienced expert to test and certify all your cutting-edge products.

LTE Carrier Aggregation

lte

LTE carrier aggregation allows operators to use multiple sub-6 GHz spectrum channels simultaneously to transfer data between base stations and a 5G mobile device.

Multiple spectrum parts that can be in the same or different frequency bands are assigned to one device to enable greater bandwidth and faster data speeds in challenging wireless conditions. These spectrum parts are called component carriers, and up to five component carriers can be combined to transmit aggregated bandwidth up to 100 MHz. Two aggregated component carriers are called 2CA, three component carriers 3CA, and so on.

CETECOM was one of the first labs in the world capable of testing the OTA performance of products using 5CA, the highest five-band combination.

PTCRB: Testing Mobile Devices in Mobile Networks

mobile phone

In addition to CTIA-authorized OTA testing, our customers receive test results that are recognized by a wide range of network operators and global certification organizations, including the PCS Type Certification Review Board (PTCRB) and its counterpart in Europe, the Global Certification Forum (GCF).

Your 5G Testing Partner

5G

OTA testing is a critical aspect of 5G device design and development. Beamforming, mmWave frequencies, and integrated transmitters are only some of the 5G NR technologies that can present testing challenges. Not for CETECOM: In 2019, we tested one of the first devices using a 5G-compatible antenna and have been growing our expertise in 5G Testing ever since.

5G OTA Testing

CETECOM is your trusted partner for reliable, efficient 5G OTA testing.

5G promises game-changing increases in bandwidth, speed, and throughput. Stringent OTA testing is critical for ensuring that 5G devices and systems deliver on this promise in the real world. You need an OTA testing partner with the expertise and state-of-the-art facilities to support the higher frequency bands and extended bandwidths in the mmWave that 5G NR demands. At CETECOM, we have you covered.

New 5G NR performance requirements are being driven by multiple applications across three main service types or use cases:

  • Enhanced mobile broadband (emBB) for devices that require higher capacity and faster throughput
  • Ultra reliable and low latency communications (URLLc) for latency-sensitive communications, as low as 1ms
  • Massive machine type communication (mMTC) for connectivity to devices that require low power and low bandwidth

Additionally, 5G NR has introduced two new testing modes that involve the way carriers transition from 4G LTE to 5G:

  • Non-standalone (NSA) mode when the radio part of the network is 5G NR and the core of the network is LTE. After the LTE anchor is established, a 5G carrier component is added to increase the payload and data rate.
  • Standalone (SA) mode when the radio part is 5G NR and the core is 5G. No LTE anchor is used. All synchronization and overhead data are exchanged via the 5G component carrier.

In 2019, CETECOM started testing in NSA mode, whereby 5G NR piggybacks off an anchor to the LTE carrier. In early 2020, we started testing in SA mode, whereby the 5G NR signal is achieved without an LTE anchor. In addition to SA and NSA testing, we support higher order E-UTRAN New Radio (EN-DC) test combinations defined by 3GPP. EN-DC simply means dual connectivity, and U.S. carriers are increasingly starting to require these test combinations.

Our OTA experts take these and other special properties of 5G NR into account when testing your devices, systems, and components. Special properties such as:

  • Small cells, which complement classic mobile phone antennas and ensure a densification of the network at locations with particularly high demand
  • Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) multi-antenna systems, which enable the use of several simultaneous transmit and receive antennas for wireless communication
  • Beamforming, wherein we adjust the direction of antenna transmission so that a maximum signal or maximum bandwidth can be received at the desired terminal

NR Carrier Aggregation

Network coverage and capacity are key to delivering optimal 5G user experiences. NR carrier aggregation technology aggregates spectrum in the low, mid, and high frequency bands to better use network resources, increase capacity, and improve the user experience. Similar to LTE carrier aggregation, there are higher order carrier aggregation combinations that can contain several 5G carriers, potentially several LTE carriers, or a combination of both.

One way to mitigate these trade-offs is to use NR carrier aggregation to combine mid-/high-band TDD with low-band FDD spectrum to create a higher bandwidth connection to the mobile device and simultaneously extend the coverage of mid-/high-bands.

CETECOM has the equipment and expertise to handle OTA NR carrier aggregation testing.

5G Evolution of OTA Testing

Experts from CETECOM and Anritsu discuss key OTA testing concepts and 5G standards development.

Our Over-the-Air (OTA) tests at a glance:

  • CTIA Certification Test Plan for SISO OTA Performance
  • CTIA Certification Test Plan for MIMO OTA Performance
  • AT&T Device Requirements Document 13340
  • T-Mobile Radiated Performance TRD
  • Verizon LTE OTA Radiated Performance Test Plan
  • Verizon OTA Radiated Performance for CDMA and LTE Multimode Devices Test Plan
  • Verizon 5G FR1 OTA
  • Vodafone specification for equipment via RF performance
  • Vodafone OTA RF performance requirements for LTE

Further Topics