WLAN IEEE 802.11ac testing

WLAN IEEE 802.11ac testing

The IEEE 802.11ac amendment (Wi-Fi 5) operating in the 5 GHz ISM band allows a significant increase in data throughput to almost 7 Gbit/s. The key improvements are the increased channel bandwidth thanks to double the number of subcarriers, more spatial streams and higher modulation schemes. Current WLAN devices typically support 160 MHz bandwidth, up to four spatial streams and 256QAM modulation. These advanced features require appropriate test solutions in R&D and production.

The unique feature set of 802.11ac

The IEEE 802.11ac PHY is based on the well-known orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation used for the legacy standards IEEE 802.11a and 802.11n. It maintains the same modulation, subcarrier spacing, interleaving and coding architecture. In order to largely improve the data throughput, 802.11ac supports 80 MHz channels as multiples of legacy 20 MHz channels and optionally 160 MHz channel bandwidth. In addition to the 64QAM modulation of 802.11n, a higher order 256QAM modulation scheme is supported. The number of possible spatial streams has been doubled so that 8x8 MIMO schemes are supported. As part of the second wave of the 802.11ac rollout, multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) on the downlink and beamforming are supported, allowing simultaneous transmission of data to stations at different locations.

IEEE 802.11ac key parameters

Properties Mandatory Optional
20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz channels x
1 spatial stream x
256QAM x
80+80 MHz channels x
160 MHz channels x
2 to 8 spatial streams x
Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) x
400 ns short guard interval x
Space time block coding (STBC) x
Low density parity check (LDPC) x
Detailed IEEE 802.11ac signal analysis using the R&S®FSW signal and spectrum analyzer.
Detailed IEEE 802.11ac signal analysis using the R&S®FSW signal and spectrum analyzer.
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Your 802.11ac test challenges

The standard defines various transmitter and receiver tests such as EVM, TX power, spectrum emissions and sensitivity. 256QAM modulation requires signal generation capabilities to transmit reference signals with very low distortion over a bandwidth of up to 160 MHz and spectrum analyzers with the required analysis bandwidth that can perform with a very low residual EVM. Testing of MIMO requires encoding or decoding of composite signals, including multipath channel emulation. This is important in R&D, but needs to be tested and verified in production as well.

Benefits of Rohde & Schwarz 802.11ac test solutions

  • Complete set of solutions covering tests for chipsets, modules, stations and access points across all application layers from RF to signaling testing and end-to-end data application testing functionalities.
  • Test solutions for every purpose – from R&D to production and certification – developed together with the key players in the ecosystem.
  • Best-in-class solutions providing the required bandwidth, accuracy and efficiency.

Related products

R&S®CMW270 wireless connectivity tester

The non-cellular expert – covers 802.11ac for testing access points and stations in signaling and non-signaling mode

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R&S®SMW200A vector signal generator

The fine art of signal generation – supports 802.11ac modulation schemes at full bandwidth, allowing MIMO testing with real-time fading

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R&S®FSW signal and spectrum analyzer

Setting standards in innovation and usability for testing 802.11ac devices

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R&S®TS8997 regulatory test system for wireless devices

Supports regulatory testing for wireless devices operating in ISM bands in line with ETSI and FCC standards

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R&S®CMW100 communications manufacturing test set

The ultra compact non-signaling tester optimized for production lines. Supports 802.11ac MIMO testing

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R&S®SMBV100B vector signal generator

The new benchmark in its class with up to 500 MHz modulation bandwidth and excellent EVM performance even at high output power levels

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R&S®FSV3000 signal analyzer

The right choice for 802.11ac spectrum and signal analysis in development. Supports 400 MHz analysis bandwidth

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R&S®DST200 RF diagnostic chamber

The ideal environment for RF analysis during development. Supports a wide range of radiated test applications for WLAN devices

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R&S®SGT100A vector signal generator

The optimized solution for use in production and any kind of automated application. Supports 802.11ac testing with a 240 MHz I/Q modulation bandwidth

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R&S®OSP open switch and control platform

Facilitates the fast setup of test and measurement configurations for applications in production, test labs and development

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R&S®TS7124 shielded box

Enables reliable and reproducible measurements when a shielded test environment is needed in R&D and production

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R&S®CMWrun sequencer software tool

Production-ready sequencer tool for parallel multi-DUT testing with integrated chipset control for 802.11ac chipsets

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Related resources

White paper: Testing WLAN modules with 2×2 MIMO

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White paper: IEEE 802.11ac technology introduction

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Application card: WLAN IEEE 802.11ac – wideband signal testing

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Application note: CMW support of WLAN 802.11ac

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Application note: Generating signals for WLAN 802.11ac

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Application note: Measurement of WLAN 802.11 ac signals

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IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN testing with the R&S®CMW wideband radio communication tester

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