Test and Measurement: T-Mo touts umlaut testing

Testing firm umlaut said in a new report assessing U.S. 5G networks that T-Mobile US’ ranks the highest in its scoring, which takes into account coverage, speed, latency and stability. 

On umlaut’s scale of up to 1,000 points, T-Mobile US’ 5G was scored at 724, compared to scores of 569 for AT&T and 555 for Verizon.

T-Mo scored particularly well in coverage and reliability to support that highest overall scoring, while Verizon’s network earned the best scoring for latency. “Our 5G network is delivering a level of performance, coverage and reliability that our competitors just can’t match. And that experience will only improve for customers as we accelerate the build of this amazing network!” said Neville Ray, president of technology at T-Mobile US, in a statement highlighting umlaut’s testing.

Umlaut’s testing was based on crowdsourced data from device-based testing that is integrated in around 1,300 smartphone applications, working in the background to collect data. The company said its conclusions were based on 3 billion data samples collected over a 24-week period from November 2021 to this month, with nearly 600,000 5G-capable users represented.

Read umlaut’s report here.

In other test news:

-Pushing ever higher into the radio frequency spectrum, Keysight Technologies announced this week that it has teamed up with three other companies to offer a new Broadband Vector Network Analysis solution that supports on-wafer millimeter-wave component characterization of devices and circuits, aimed at speeding up development and design of 5G and emerging 6G systems. The joint VNA solution is the result of collaboration with test and measurement tech company FormFactor, millimeter-wave and terahertz probe developer Dominion MicroProbes and Virginia Diodes (VDI), which designs and produces mmWave and terahertz devices, components and systems.

“We worked closely with Dominion MicroProbes on the probe design and our solution partners, VDI and FormFactor, to deliver the highest performance 170 and 220 GHz single-sweep solution for testing on-wafer devices and circuits,” said Joe Rickert, VP and GM of research and development at Keysight. “Keysight’s new solution will enable customers to shorten design and verification cycles for 5G and emerging 6G applications and allow them to deliver new solutions to market faster.”

Rohde & Schwarz is offering two new millimeter-wave options for its SMW200A signal generator series that push the instrument’s capabilities up to 56 and 67 GHz.

“For the past decade, the ceiling for a standalone vector signal generator capable of creating complex digitally modulated signals with high accuracy has been 44 GHz,” the test company said in a release. “Higher frequencies have only been possible with additional external frequency upconverters or lower accuracy, both of which have limitations.” R&S says that the new options bring “previously impossible high performance” to this range of signal generation. The option up to 56 GHz option covers all currently used 5G frequencies, plus earth-to-satellite applications, the company add The 100 kHz to 67 GHz option also supports planned higher frequency 5G bands, the 60 GHz WiGig band, and inter-satellite links.

NI has launched new design-to-test analytics software called DataStudio, which it says “bridges critical data across the semiconductor design and test workflow.”

The first DataStudio application is its Specification Compliance Manager (SCM), which “manages device specifications, connects to measurement data sources and automatically generates compliance reports,” NI said, as well as providing information on a device’s conformance to target specifications. “By laying the groundwork with comprehensive data infrastructure, engineers gain clear and actionable insights to improve productivity and reduce the manual effort required during chip development,” the test company said.

NI is also launching a DataStudio Bench Data Connector (BDC) validation bench test library. 

“The last several decades have focused on design and test automation, which generates a large volume of data. Our customers want to leverage this data to enable better project visibility and decision making,” said Ritu Favre, VP and GM of the semiconductor and electronics business unit at NI. “We’re at a tipping point. The volume of data and the pressure to use that data is immense, and our customers are looking for solutions to work across the whole flow now.”

“With simulators today, it’s difficult to tell where the problem lies with semiconductor prototypes if they are not meeting all the specifications. Is it a particular part that’s defective? Was it something in the manufacturing process that didn’t go right? Is it a fundamental flaw in the design?” Ritu continued. “To debug that, engineers must work against these different silos, using different tools from different vendors with different data sets. We’re breaking down those barriers.”

NI also unveiled a new maintenance-as-a-service offering for monitoring and predictive maintenance of test equipment and facilities. ActiveUptime involves a dedicated NI technician remotely monitoring and providing support, and the offering “advances the user’s capabilities to proactively predict outages before they happen,” NI says.

The test company said that equipment failure accounts for 42% of unplanned downtime costs and results in as much as $50 billion in annual global losses for manufacturers—but that slightly more than half of manufacturers say that they use spreadsheets to monitor and manage equipment.

“One of the key challenges faced by manufacturers is having visibility into physical systems to keep them running smoothly and avoiding any reputation-damaging product failures,” said Josh Mueller, SVP & GM of NI’s portfolio business unit. “ActiveUptime provides the most accurate picture of these systems. With the assistance of our maintenance experts, our customers get to the root of the problem quickly, achieve fast resolution, and implement measures to prevent it from happening again.  

“Predictive maintenance and condition monitoring are becoming key pillars in the broader digital transformation of manufacturing,” Mueller explains. “Real-time continuous monitoring maximizes total asset uptime, reduces the costly expense of spares and optimizes maintenance costs by moving from time-based to usage-based maintenance.”

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