New Approach to 5G Test Labs using RFoF (RF over Fibre)

by Rohit Kunjappa- Head of Solution Engineering, HUBER+SUHNER Polatis

Rolling out 5G is forcing wireless providers and equipment manufacturers to scale up their testing as a large number of devices have to be connected to radios. Here, Rohit Kunjappa, Head of Solution Engineering at HUBER+SUHNER Polatis, explains how using all-optical fibre cross-connects in place of RF switches can help telecoms providers to scale up and improve the quality of their testing.

Everything is growing in mobile network development – the size of test labs; the distance between radios and user devices; the number of devices that need to be connected; the number of remote changes in topology.

Traditionally, all these processes would have been accomplished using coax cables and RF switches. This is a very limiting approach and has a lot of constraints:
  • Transmission over coax is distance limited
  • The size and limited bend radius of coax makes it harder to manage
  • Coax runs in test chamber environments disturb anechoic chamber EMI performance
  • Impairments added by the RF switch reduces the distance between the radios and user equipment. This is exacerbated by the fact that power output of radios at 5 GHz & 6 GHz are considerably lower 
  • As port densities increase, the cost of RF switches increases exponentially 

HUBER+SUHNER offers a new approach where these limitations can be overcome by using RF over Fibre (RFoF) transceivers and Polatis all-optical fibre switches.

The benefits of this approach using all-optical fibre switches include:
  • Distance is not a limitation
  • Many more devices can be connected
  • Less expensive than coax cables
  • Fewer (or no) RF switch ports required
  • Does not interfere with anechoic chamber performance
  • Topologies can be reconfigured at will and remotely
  • Creates a future proof signal distribution architecture – able to switch any RF frequency now and in the future
  • RF frequency agnostic – able to route different RF frequencies on the same switch
  • Polatis OOO switches achieve greater than 100 dB of RF isolation between channels at any RF frequency

If you would like more details, I can be reached at rohit.kunjappa@hubersuhner.com. Or you can reach out to your local HUBER+SUHNER representative to get more information on our RFoF and optical switching solutions for your lab or network requirements.