For some wireless devices, strong wireless performance is imperative
Being able to predict the performance of a device in the real world is important. In order to launch a cellular device, carriers and some international regulators will comprehensively review the performance of a device to ensure that their network is not overloaded with inefficient devices. In some markets such as the USA, the standards set are particularly stringent.
Which certifications may your device need?
It depends on the market.
🇺🇸🇨🇦 PTCRB approval is mandatory for LTE devices in North America.
🇺🇸 FCC authorization is needed for devices marketed in/ imported into the USA
🇪🇺 CE Mark is accepted by European and some non-European nations as evidence of adherence to health and safety regulations.
🌍 All markets have their own unique requirements before a device can launch.
Over-the-air (OTA) testing is a crucial stage in the design cycle - helping engineers judge how a device will perform in the ‘wild’. Among other benefits, OTA testing:
- Flags the impact of noise and detuning.
- Gives an impression of the quality of RF impedance matching and efficiency.
Can help projects avoid costly setbacks if done early enough in the design process.
RSE, TIS and efficiency are three examples of the factors that carriers will want to test before granting certification.
The testing facility of choice for OTA usually uses an anechoic chamber. In addition, phantom body equipment is used to ascertain the performance impacts of users on handheld and wearable devices. For more information about OTA testing, we’ve created a handy quick guide.
With relevant certifications becoming so costly, it’s vital for many companies to pass certifications the first time. Pre-compliance testing is the best way to help your device achieve this. For all devices, including those using Bluetooth or WLAN, testing is vital for spotting potential issues with performance before they are sent for certification.
Pre-compliance testing should be carried out as early as possible. This is because identifying problems early negates the need to carry out time-consuming and costly re-designs at the crucial later stages. Here are some common pre-compliance tests:
- Total Radiated Power (TRP). This test records an antenna’s overall transmit power efficiency.
- Radiated Spurious Emissions (RSE). This flags any RF energy being radiated at erroneous frequencies.
- Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). This tests the level of absorption of radiated energy on the human body from an antenna. For instance - casing materials, and human skin if used in a handheld device.
- Return loss. The return loss is a measure of signal reflections caused by impedance mismatch.
- Gain. In RF, gain measures an antenna’s directivity; a higher gain indicates a more focused radiation pattern.
Roadmap to certification
- Settle on requirements for certification
For any device that uses any part of the secular radio spectrum, approval from the network operators is required first. It’s important to be fully aware of what the exact requirements for your desired region or market are - for instance standards in the USA have different TRP and TIS for the various frequency bands they operate on and for the differing technologies from 2G to 5G.
- Pre-certification testing
With costs of tens of thousands of dollars, network approval submissions are best done once. Pre-certification testing is the best way to ensure your device passes first time.
- Certification testing
All devices have to undergo rigorous testing, but the exact nature of this will vary by certification requirements. OTA performance, battery performance, cybersecurity, interoperability, hardware reliability and compatibility can all be involved.
- Device launch
Testing a device early on can help save time and money further down the line. Pre-certification testing should help ensure that when your device is eventually submitted for certification, it has a very high chance of passing.
RF Design Review
Antenova provides an array of support and testing services to help our customers achieve certification for their devices. From architecture and gerber file reviews, to active and passive testing, we offer market-leading support and integration assistance.