Interview with Rohde & Schwarz “We want to become a one-stop test equipment provider for 5G”

Key Customers, Government Regulations and Impacts on T&M Providers

Who are or were your initial customers for 5G T&M solutions? 
Just like when previous technologies were launched, the initial customers are often component manufacturers – in the case of 5G, for example, developers of power amplifiers who have to develop modules for higher frequencies and higher bandwidth. The chipset and infrastructure manufacturers, closely followed by the leading wireless device manufacturers, determine how the technology will take shape and are therefore our most important key customers.

When will other customer groups follow? Who will they be? 
When 5G networks are set up, the network installation must be verified and optimized in the field. Mobile network operators need suitable T&M equipment to be able to do this. In part, this is done during the trial phase shortly after the initial implementation of the infrastructure and the associated terminal devices. We also expect new customers as soon as 5G technology is adopted by the new vertical industries, for example in the automotive sector.

Which frequency bands will be the most profitable for you as a T&M equipment manufacturer? 
The cellular technologies that exist today already use different frequency bands. There are indications that the largest global proliferation of 5G applications will occur in the additional 3.5 GHz frequency band. The previously mentioned 28 GHz and 39 GHz frequency bands will play an important role because they have already been made available in some countries (USA and Korea). 
From a test and measurement perspective, do you think more government regulation is called for? 
In our estimation, the current organizations and bodies should be sufficient. But there are new application scenarios for 5G URLLC, such as vehicle-to-vehicle and general V2X communications for autonomous driving. Safety must be ensured in those application areas, which may necessitate a new certification process. This is being discussed in the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA). It is likely that relevant regulations could be formulated there and adopted by government authorities. A good example of successful regulation from the T&M perspective was the introduction of eCall in the automotive sector, because uniform legal regulation across all of Europe was a prerequisite for large-scale implementation. 

5G is also poised for large-scale implementation. How much does 5G impact you as a T&M equipment manufacturer? 
5G technology will not only improve established wireless communications applications and enable augmented and virtual reality, for example. 5G also addresses numerous new applications in the vertical markets. Automated and autonomous driving, agriculture, health care, public transport, automated product manufacturing and the financial sector are all planning to use 5G communications. With the proliferation of 5G technology in these application areas, the demand for T&M equipment will also rise significantly.