Spirent Communications unveiled the SR5500 wireless channel emulator, a hardware and software offering that recreates radio frequency fading and interference effects in order to test wireless receivers.

The emulator mimics wideband, radio channel aspects, including channel loss and time-varying, multipath delay spread, said Nigel Wright, vice president of product marketing for Spirent. One of several test-and-measurement devices developed by the company, it is targeted to the wireless handset test market, he said.

The SR5500 tests a broad range of communication devices that have a receiver, whether it is incorporated into a base station or a handheld radio. It includes a Windows-compatible software suite and an RF box that tests frequencies ranging from WiMAX to 5 GHz. Wright said the device replicates spatial channel conditions to isolate performance issues from the onset of the design and verification cycle, and it also lets device or handset manufactures and independent labs test multiple technologies, including wireless local area networks and WiMAX devices.

Wright said the emulator specifically tests a receiver's performance, which becomes more difficult when it is in motion, such as with mobile WiMAX.

“The SR5500 simulates the conditions between the transmitter and the receiver to test the performance of that receiver,” he said. “The scope of that challenge has gotten significantly greater as new technologies hit the market, such as mobile WiMAX.”

Mobile WiMAX is almost impossible to recreate in a real-world setting compared to a controlled laboratory environment, Wright said. As a result, the emulator was designed to simulate complex, real-world conditions and repeat the exact result in any setting.

“So if you find your algorithms are not cued correctly for the right receiver implementation, the user can use the emulator to play back what conditions caused the problem,” Wright said. “This lets the user be confident they are repeating the exact same test conditions as often as they wish until they resolve the problem.”

The emulator costs $120,000 to $200,000, depending on the configuration, he said.

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AEA Technology ▪ Aeroflex ▪ Agilent Technologies ▪ Anritsu ▪ AVCOM of Virginia ▪ Berkeley Varitronics Systems ▪ Bird Electronic ▪ Boonton Electronics ▪ Comprod Communications ▪ General Dynamics ▪ GL Communications ▪ Narda Microwave-East ▪ Optoelectronics ▪ Pendulum Instruments ▪ Ramsey Electronics ▪ Sunrise Telecom ▪ Survey Technology ▪ Tektronix ▪ Telewave ▪ Willtek Communications ▪ Zetron ▪ For complete listings of asset-tracking vendors, visit the MRT 2007 Resource Guide at www.mrtmag.com.