IEEE 802.11ac PHY tests

The IEEE 802.11ac amendment significantly increases the data throughput of IEEE 802.11 so that performance of a wireless network can be equivalent to that of a wired network. Data rates of 293 Mbit/s (using the mandatory features) and up to 6.9 Gbit/s (using all of the optional features) are possible. The table below provides a quick overview of the mandatory vs. optional PHY layer properties of 11ac.

Properties Mandatory Optional
20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz channels x  
1 spatial stream x  
BPSK, QPSK, 16QAM, 64QAM x  
256QAM   x
80+80 MHz contiguous and noncontiguous channels,
160 MHz channels
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

Testing these challenging IEEE 802.11ac features requires test equipment that is not only capable of supporting these features but also provides high performance – even higher than the requirements for the test devices. Rohde & Schwarz offers a wide selection of test and measurement equipment that meets the needs of IEEE 802.11ac WLAN test engineers.

WLAN IEEE 802.11ac Receiver Tests

Receiver and component tests require reference signals with very low distortion. Rohde & Schwarz offers two vector signal generators enabling IEEE 802.11ac compliant waveforms generation with 80 + 80 MHz and full 160 MHz bandwidth support. The new R&S®SMW200A is a high-end vector signal generator for highest demands on signal quality with an EVM of –49 dB and 0.05 dB frequency response over 160 MHz bandwidth. The R&S®SMBV100A is the first mid-class vector signal generator offering 160 MHz bandwidth in a compact form factor. Both instruments feature a frame block sequencer that allows easy configuration and concurrent signal generation of all major WLAN IEEE 802.11 standards. This is particularly useful when testing DUTs supporting multiple IEEE 802.11 standards.

IEEE 802.11ac Transmitter Tests

Transmitter tests require spectral measurements such as ACLR and spurious emissions as well as modulation accuracy (e.g. EVM) and analysis of the signal content. Rohde & Schwarz signal and spectrum analyzers, such as the R&S®FSV and R&S®FSW, offer 160 MHz demodulation bandwidth to perform both tasks easily and accurately. Large touchscreens make signal configuration fast and easy and present comprehensive, clearly arranged measurement results.

The outstanding performance of the R&S®FSW high end spectrum analyzer permits the precise signal analysis, necessary when characterizing DUTs. For a 160 MHz bandwidth and 256QAM modulation, the residual EVM is as low as –47 dB. The high speed of the spectrum analyzer enables fast measurements during conformance and verification tests. The EVM value of one frame can be acquired in about 35 ms.

With the R&S®FSV, Rohde & Schwarz was first to offer a mid-class spectrum analyzer with 160 MHz demodulation bandwidth as a cost-effective instrument for transmitter and component tests in R & D and production.

Resources for IEEE 802.11ac

Featured Products for IEEE 802.11ac

  • R&S®FSW signal and spectrum analyzer
    • 160 MHz demodulation bandwidth
    • Very low residual EVM of less than –45 dB
    • Fast switching and measurement times
    • High end instrument with unrivaled dynamic range for R&D and verification
  • R&S®FSV Signal and Spectrum Analyzer
    • 160 MHz demodulation bandwidth
    • Fast switching and measurement times
    • Mid-class instrument ideal for transmitter and component tests in production
  • R&S®SMW200A Vector Signal Generator
    • 20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz, 80+80 MHz and 160 MHz modes
    • Contiguous and non-contiguous 80+80 MHz signal generation in one instrument
    • Frame block sequencer for alternating legacy (11a/b/g), 11n or 11ac frames (with different configurations and data rates)
    • MIMO modes with up to 8 transmit antennas
  • R&S®SMBV100A Vector Signal Generator
    • 20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz, 80+80 MHz and 160 MHz modes
    • Frame block sequencer for alternating legacy (11a/b/g), 11n or 11ac frames (with different configurations and data rates)
    • MIMO modes with up to 8 transmit antennas
  • R&S®CMW Platform
    • Signal generation and analysis (SISO)
    • Dual-tester configuration for simultaneous testing of two wireless devices
    • Support of cellular and non-cellular standards in one box, ideal e.g. for coexistence tests
  • R&S®TS8997 Regulatory Test System for Wireless Devices
    • Measurements in line with ETSI EN 300 328 v1.8.1 and ETSI EN 301 893 v1.7.1 required by R&TTE directive for the European market
    • Support of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands
    • Support of MIMO with up to four antenna ports

Rohde & Schwarz test instruments are based on multistandard platforms supporting WLAN, other noncellular standards and all major cellular standards in one box.

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