According to the latest data released by the Ministry of industry and information technology, by the end of 2020, China has built more than 718000 5g base stations, basically covering all prefecture level cities in China, and the independent networking mode has been deployed on a large scale. The number of users has also increased rapidly, and the number of 5g terminal connections has exceeded 200 million.
According to the plan, China will build more than 600000 5g base stations in 2021. 5g networks, such as networking mode, power consumption and frequency band, are evolving in the construction process, and the demand for network testing will continue to upgrade. Viavi, the network test leader, has participated in the whole process of 5g from pilot to commercial in China, and demonstrated the millimeter wave test solution during 2021 MWC Shanghai.
5g new features will continue to emerge
As a whole, wireless technology is in a process of dynamic evolution. 5g has been commercially available on a large scale, and 5g technology is still gradually maturing. In 2021 MWC Shanghai, Wang Xingyang, senior sales director of wireless business in Greater China of viavi, told the media, for example, 5g has not realized vonr at present, voice is still back to 4G, and all stations this year will support vonr.
“How about the voice quality of vonr? How many vonr users can a base station support at the same time under the current bandwidth level? What are the implementation methods of vonr?” Wang Xingyang said that the introduction of new network elements in vonr has yet to be judged on the impact on the original performance, such as the “long network” and the impact on service throughput. This also brings new requirements for testing.
“Operators and equipment manufacturers define testing to a certain extent. We can neither lead nor lag behind. The functions that the network does not have need to consider testing for the time being; the functions that the network is very mature can be removed slowly. I think this is a process of rolling development. 5g will have a long development time, and new functions will emerge in the next two or three years.” Wang Xingyang said, “viavi’s main work is to help operators and equipment manufacturers verify and ensure the real service quality.”
At the product level, viavi’s strategy is to develop according to the needs of customers, especially operators. Operators provide directional needs, and viavi will list relevant indicators into the product development roadmap according to the feedback. Take vonr as an example. There is no problem of getting through the phone in many foreign regions, but with the change of a base station in China from 400 to 800 users, this scenario needs to redesign the product functions. Another example is that China Unicom will use 5g millimeter wave in the Winter Olympics, so viavi will launch the millimeter wave test scheme.
The outbreak of the epidemic last year caused physical isolation, home office and other ways, which made the network traffic soar, and also affected the network testing to some extent. Wang Xingyang revealed that viavi design instrument products will leave redundancy and adopt modular design, making the development of new functions more flexible. “Thanks to the large network design in China, there is a lot of redundancy to support this process. The network problems faced by China during the epidemic are relatively small. Operators optimize the network traffic configuration, which is also a new opportunity for testing manufacturers.”
Layout millimeter wave test in advance
In 2021 MWC Shanghai, millimeter wave has become a striking exhibition theme, especially the application of millimeter wave 5g technology to support the Winter Olympic Games, which has attracted a large number of visitors. As an important frequency band of 5g, millimeter wave has been commercially used in many countries overseas, but the medium and low frequency band (sub-6g) has been commercially used in China first. There is no clear construction schedule for millimeter wave.
Wang Xingyang said that millimeter wave and sub-6g complement each other. The industry is exploring the application of millimeter wave in industrial Internet. In the civil market, there are still some problems, including cost. China Unicom will launch the first millimeter wave test network at the Winter Olympic Games. At that time, we can intuitively feel the performance and application value of millimeter wave.
From the perspective of testing, Wang Xingyang believes that in this year’s TDD test, the original station type, such as the three cell station type, will not be tested. With the enhancement of the processing capacity of the base station, the six cell station type will be tested this year, and the millimeter wave will be tested next year.
“Millimeter wave has been commercially available, so there are many experiences and ready-made examples to learn from. For example, millimeter wave testing is more complex and requires darkroom and other environments.” Wang Xingyang said that in China, viavi and operators discuss how millimeter wave and sub-6g coexist, understand the top-level design of operators’ network planning and the coverage requirements brought by the growth progress of user traffic, so as to develop corresponding test schemes.
For example, the network coverage of millimeter wave in winter and summer will be different. Due to the poor penetration of millimeter wave, the coverage may be good when the leaves fall in winter, and the coverage problem will occur when the leaves grow in summer. At present, domestic operators may not encounter such problems, but vaivi has rich experience in this field and can help operators with network planning and network deployment testing through instrument products.
“After millimeter wave technology is launched in China, we also need to consider the differences with other regions, such as mutual interference and switching when multiple technologies coexist. Therefore, we can learn from international experience and have local unique insight. I think the most important thing for millimeter wave is to solve its cost. If the cost can be well controlled, there will be a lot of living space.” Wang Xingyang said.
At present, viavi has nearly 10 sets of millimeter wave products on sale in the domestic market, covering the testing of millimeter wave macro base stations and small base stations. Wang Xingyang predicted that from June to July this year, operators should have the first round of millimeter wave base station evaluation and testing. Viavi also expects that millimeter wave will become the main new test direction among the centralized acquisition tests of the three major operators by the end of this year.
Responsible editor: GT