Donn Mulder, Sr. VP and General Manager, Anritsu Company
MPD: The 2019 defense budget is chock full of EW, radar, and other programs with lots of RF and microwave content, so, if your company serves the defense market, what are your thoughts about how this will affect your business in the coming years?
We expect our history of developing high-performance measurement systems will continue to be well supported by the defense and commercial industries. The defense industry has always pushed the boundaries of microwave system capabilities, and constantly challenges the test and measurement industry to provide higher performance measurement systems. Anritsu has maintained a leadership position in test and measurement advancements, such as introducing the world’s first 40 GHz, 70 GHz and 145 GHz coaxial connectors that enable the widest available broadband microwave and mmWave measurements. In addition, our patented nonlinear transmission line (NLTL) technology gives us a unique capability to provide the widest frequency measurement coverage with the highest performance.
The current push into the mmWave bands is the result of the need for higher data rate throughput in communications systems, improved imaging in security systems, wider spectroscopy analysis, and material measurement analysis at higher frequencies. The recent migration of mmWave bands in the commercial sector, including development of 5G networks, follows the long history of mmWave development in the defense industry. Therefore, we look forward to the ongoing advancements at the microwave and mmWave frequencies and the subsequent need for new test and measurement capabilities due to the increased defense budget.
MPD: 5G is already generating revenue for some sectors of the RF and microwave industry, and this should increase next year. How do you think the implementation of 5G will affect business in the coming year?
Our new Radio Communication Test Station, MT8000A, is being used by leading global chipset and device makers who are developing 5G New Radio (NR) products. It is widely adopted because it features a 5G base station emulation function that allows a single MT8000A to support the sub-6 GHz, including band n41, and the mmWave bands used in 5G. Combining it with an over-the-air (OTA) chamber enables both mmWave band RF measurements and beamforming tests using call connections specified by 3GPP.
We are also now seeing a demand for field test solutions supporting 5G from network operators who plan to deploy and install 5G NR networks in 2019. In the U.S., the prime interest for initial implementations is 28 GHz and 39 GHz, while the rest of the world is focusing on the 3.5 GHz band. The use of active antenna systems (AAS) and beamforming is moving test requirements to OTA techniques.
We expect mmWave radios and OTA measurement techniques to drive demand for new measurement solutions through 2019. Recognizing this market need, we have developed a portfolio of solutions that include the ShockLine™ and VectorStar® VNAs, Spectrum Analyzer/Signal Analyzer MS2850A, and the MS269xA series of signal analyzers.
MPD: Overall, how would you compare the health of the industry compared with years past?
Stronger government and defense spending and the rollout of large-scale 5G NR networks are expected to drive an increase in business through 2019. The deployment of the FirstNet network for the public safety sector is also creating new business opportunities, as more operators are crowding into the sub-3 GHz cellular spectrum.
MPD: What RF and microwave technologies will be driving the industry in 2019?
5G NR, automotive radar, and defense electronics are growth markets resulting in significant capital investment from our customers. Automotive radar at 70 GHz in safety-critical applications is moving mmWave technologies into large volume commercial products. In turn, this is challenging test companies to develop new innovative test solutions that enable these products to be tested in an economical and timely manner.
Similarly, mmWave radio links are becoming common in commercial cellular networks. To drive down cost-of-test and speed time-to-market, new techniques are required for volume production testing. Anritsu has developed test tools with flexible platforms that have efficient upgrade paths, making them well-suited for current test needs, as well as simply and economically enhanced as requirements evolve.