A PARADIGM SHIFT IN RF MEASUREMENT FOR THE TELECOM INDUSTRY
On 2023-07-26, CENELEC approved amendments A1 that modify the European Standards EN 50566:2017 and EN 50360:2017, which now reference EN IEC 62209-3 and associated procedures as normative documents.
ART-Fi, which initiated EN IEC 62209-3 in 2013, wishes to congratulate CENELEC TC 106X and all the wireless industry partners who supported this 10-years long process.
In the paragraphs below we answer the following questions:
Why is this so important for the telecom industry?
What role did ART-Fi play in this context?
Why did it take 10 years to reach this milestone?
Why are older test and measurement standards unadapted to modern wireless technologies and are actually holding back the development of the wireless industry?
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT FOR THE TELECOM INDUSTRY?
From its early days in the 1990’s to today, the wireless telecommunications industry has gone through rapid innovation and several generations of devices and communications standards:
from simple-form factor, single-frequency, feature phones, to complex-form factors, multiplefrequencies, smart phones;
from 2G to 3/4/5G cellular technologies and networks, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and so on
When it comes to radiofrequency emissions of wireless devices and antennas design, the challenges for R&D, manufacturing, testing and certification have increased exponentially over the past 30 years:
R&D teams initially designed mobile phones with a single, external, antenna; now they tightly integrate over ten antennas inside very thin and even foldable form factors;
in the past, manufacturing only required checking of single cellular antenna connected to the wireless network; nowadays manufacturers are required to test the performance of several antennas separately and collectively to support multiple transmissions for higher data throughput;
the number of tests required for certification per band went from approximately ten for a feature phone in the early 2000’s, to several thousand for today’s modern smartphones.
At long last... referencing EN IEC 62209-3 in the European product standards will make it possible to use the state-of-the-art RF phasor technology to capture the entire characteristics of modern radiofrequency signals, to test modern wireless devices and antennas in their real intended mode of operation, accurately and in real-time, in particular in the case of multiple frequencies transmissions (5G NSA, Wi-Fi, BT...) which is increasingly the norm in 5G and upcoming 6G networks.
WHAT ROLE HAS ART-FI PLAYED IN THIS CONTEXT?
ART-Fi was created to help the wireless industry respond to the growing challenges of designing, manufacturing, testing and certifying wireless devices and antennas design, and for that purpose it innovated in two areas:
Technology: ART-Fi patented, developed and manufactures the radiofrequency phasor array technology "D-Phase" that can capture the entire characteristics of modern signals and thus assess both SAR and OTA parameters on the same platform;
Standards: ART-Fi kick-started the EN IEC 62209-3 in 2013, spearheaded with IEC TC106 support the publication of the first ever SAR state-of-the-art and inclusive standard in 2019 and the recent vote for its referencing in European product standards.
WHY DID IT TAKE 10 YEARS TO REACH THIS MILESTONE?
The 10 years-long process from 2013 to today has not been “a long quiet river”. We would like to acknowledge and thank the vast majority of ecosystem partners who embraced this process.
However, ART-Fi and EN IEC 62209-3 also faced strenuous opposition from a few influential market actors who hoped, till the very end of the CENELEC voting process, to maintain the pre-existing status quo. Such continuing hostility choked competition in the market for testing and measurement systems and delayed innovation in the broader wireless telecommunications industry.
WHY ARE OLDER TEST AND MEASUREMENT STANDARDS UNADAPTED TO MODERN WIRELESS TECHNOLOGIES AND ARE ACTUALLY HOLDING BACK THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE WIRELESS INDUSTRY?
Older RF test and measurement technologies and standards were developed more than 20 years ago for simple-form factor, single-frequency, feature phones. Diodes were applicable for the simple technology of the past, now obsolete, however: these older diode technologies are limited to only measure the amplitude (root-mean-square) of electric signals; they cannot discriminate signal frequencies nor analyze the real spectrum for modern devices in their real intended use conditions; and their slow response time make them unfit to monitor and assess modern modulated signals. In other words, diode-based standards and test systems (whether single-probe or array) are not suitable to be used in Europe, based on the European Union guidelines for harmonized standards.
Indeed, the EU emphasizes technology neutrality and performance orientation in its regulations and standards: they should not favor or discriminate against specific technologies or solutions. Instead, they should be formulated in a way that allows for innovation and competitiveness among different technologies meeting the same fundamental objectives.
Also, EU standards and regulations emphasize the intended use of products. The requirements are consistently tailored to address the specific considerations that may arise with different types of products and their intended purposes. This ensures that standards are appropriate and proportionate with the products in question.