by Donn Mulder, President and General Manager, Anritsu Company
MPD: How is your company addressing the many constraints that the pandemic has placed on business operations?
Anritsu Corporation is striving to balance supplying essential products and services to our customers with the personal safety of employees. Manufacturing and repair/calibration services have continued with required personnel on-site observing safety protocols established by leading health organizations. This includes wearing face coverings, observing social distancing, practicing proper personal hygiene, and frequent temperature checking.
Customer support is virtual, with contact between company personnel and customers occurring over video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, Teams, and Skype. Anritsu has also ramped up product, application, and technical training offerings via online webinars for contactless learning. Finally, all personnel who do not have to be on-site for their jobs are working remotely, using technology to communicate and meet all goals and objectives.
MPD: The adoption of open architectures is accelerating in many markets, from wireless to defense. Do you feel your company and the RF and microwave industry as a whole benefit from this initiative?
It appears as if OpenRAN in the telecoms cellular network will become an important new standard to allow network elements from different OEMs to interoperate smoothly. Today’s networks typically have proprietary interfaces between network elements, and these interfaces may not be publically specified. Standardized interfaces tend to lead to simplified and lower cost of test, as one Anritsu instrument will be able to test all equivalent network elements.
MPD: Technologies such as direct RF sampling are reducing the number of analog components in receivers and, increasingly, transmitters as well. Do you feel that the “digitalization of RF” will have an impact on your business?
RF digitization is a steady trend, as high-speed Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADC), Digital-to-Analog Converters (DAC), and digital signal processing hardware technologies improve each year. The benefits of fewer analog components, simpler RF architecture, and reduced production test time are clear, and direct RF sampling is being utilized by many commercial and military communication systems. The uptake of direct RF sampling in the RF/microwave test and measurement applications, however, is constrained by dynamic range, linearity, spurious, and signal purity requirements.
RF performance of test and measurement instruments must exceed the test specifications of the signal or device under test (DUT) to perform accurate measurements. Further, wide operating frequency range—which can extend to 220 GHz—is required to address the testing needs of customers. Existing commercial ADCs and DACs are unable to meet all requirements for direct RF sampling, but they can be used for IF sampling with an analog front end. This enables test instruments to perform extremely wide bandwidth signal analysis or vector signal generation.
We see test setups in which customers combine a vector network analyzer (VNA) and spectrum analyzer (SPA) for match, analog signal purity, linearity, and other measurements with a digital I/O board to measure mixed-signal systems. We expect that level of test combination to continue.
Anritsu is using this technology with our miniature VNA frequency extensions to 220 GHz and our spectrum analyzers to 170 GHz, from an equivalent-time sampling perspective. In our case, equivalent-time sampling of the RF signals led to compact modules to provide customers with once inconceivable capabilities, such as continuous VNA frequency sweeps from 70 KHz to 220 GHz, continuous spectrum analysis from 6 GHz to 170 GHz, and unrivaled on-wafer measurement flexibility.