Friday, April 3, 2009

CTIA Keynote Close Out

Steve Largent kicked off the final keynote with some highlights of the show such as Blackberry launching their apps store, the merging of wireless and medical applications and a few new product launches from the big carriers. He showed a video of how the industry is recycling and leading in "green" efforts. Largent then introduced the final speaker, the honorable Al Gore.

Gore reviewed the history of information distribution and how it has affected the balance of power from the few to the many. He stated there were only 50 web sites online about the time Clinton and he took office compared to today where there are billions. He drove the concept that we have a climate change, security and economic crisis. The common thread in these is our reliance on carbon based energy so we must act quickly to move away from that situation. He stated that wireless is a key tool to solving these problems and challenged everyone to contribute and lead the effort. He said we should have more than a financial incentive as it will improve mankind!

Many people at the show enjoyed the previous day's keynote on how advanced wireless medical applications were being developed. They showed how you could monitor your vital signs on your smart phone and send them to your doctor.

The other subject that was discussed on the floor was the government incentives for the expansion of broadband services around the country. It seems like the funding is still not completely defined but everyone is looking forward to them being released. However, if it is like most government programs, it could be some time before we see any release of those funds.

Did you see anything interesting at the show or have any comments?

Having Some Fun at CTIA

The PowerWave booth is always huge stretching across the middle of the main exhibition hall. This year they have a formula one race car simulator that is very realistic. You provide them with a little information and then get your ride. I have not come across any other interactive displays yet other than presentations and music.

After a long day at the show, we decided to stay in the Mirage and have a "little" sandwich at Carnegie's. Then came the turkey club that was about a foot high and the pastrami that has a full 2 pounds of meat. We did our best to finish them but we were not very successful. Our publisher, Carl, always poses for the food pictures.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


GPS is being commonly added to smart phones for location based information and services. However, GPS in these phones is not always that accurate and can have slow response times. Assisted GPS (A-GPS) will solve these problems with help from the cell towers to complement the internal GPS information being gathered by the phone. It is a hot topic at CTIA and companies are releasing test solutions to meet the needs of deploying them.

Agilent Technologies Inc. introduced GS-9000 A-GPS Design Verification Test systems designed around the 8960 wireless communications test set's new A-GPS assistance data messaging test capabilities. The capabilities support A-GPS validation, Total Isotropic Sensitivity testing and A-GPS pre-conformance testing for mobile devices. With this introduction, Agilent's 8960 test set offers the industry's best price/performance one-box tester for use in A-GPS base station emulation applications across the entire R&D lifecycle.

Spirent Communications, a mobile device, application, and wireless network testing company, has partnered with ETS-Lindgen, a provider of RF chambers and antenna measurement solutions, to integrate Spirent's UMTS Location Test System (ULTS) with ETS-Lindgren's EMQuest Antenna Measurement Software. This will enable the ability to test product in compliance with the upcoming 3.0 release of the CTIA's Test Plan for Mobile Station Over the Air Performance, which will become mandatory on all CTIA authorized test labs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

CTIA Central Hall

So each year I like to give out my own best booth award to the glamorous handset companies that go all out for CTIA. I think it usually comes down to LG and Samsung. Last year I liked the LG booth the best and although it was great this year, Samsung gets the award for the intriguing display pictured here. It is made up of individual cell phone images which constantly change.

The central hall was very busy in the afternoon and I enjoy going to the Asian country pavilions which each have several microwave component companies. They typically make some very good isolators, diplexers, duplexers and integrated assemblies. One that stood out was Admotech which makes components and was featuring their integrated front end WiMAX assembly.

I will be spending more time in this hall later since it is so large.

RF/Microwave Pavilion Opens at CTIA

The RF and Microwave Pavilion opened at CTIA today and the reception was strong. The Pavilion is located in the South hall toward the front on the main isle so traffic was good.

I visited all of the booths today in the pavilion and will have a complete wrap up in a few days after I return. But the most interesting product so far is the Peregrine UltraCMOS products. They are making products that are solving many of the high power, high linearity and fast switching times needed for multi-throw switches, digital attenuators and tunable circuits. Included is a photo of one of their patterned Si on Sapphire wafers. See the previous entry describing their release of new digital step attenuators and they have more products coming.
Another very interesting meeting I had was with Spirent who I was not very familiar with until today. They make testing solutions for real world testing of more types of wireless systems and announced that ETS-Lindgren now supports Spirent's UMTS Location Test System. This will allow wireless device manufacturers to quickly and easily add Spirent's A-GPS instrumentation to ETS-Lindgren's over the air wireless test solutions.

The Testing Solutions Pavilion is right beside the RF and microwave Pavilion so I was able to visit Anritsu and others there. Anritsu has some new USB power meters available that I will also describe in the wrap up after the show. The central hall has all of the large booths and country pavilions. I will have follow up on details about my visits to central hall next.

CTIA Kicks Off

I got in last night and Vegas seems as busy as ever - there are several trade shows in town besides CTIA which by itself is very large. I will be going over to the exhibition soon as it opens at 11 but the news is already pouring in. It looks like femtocells are hot while high capacity microwave backhaul and LTE continue to get a lot of attention.

Peregrine Semiconductor Corporation released three new UltraCMOS(TM) Digital Step Attenuators (DSAs) in the expansion of its popular 50 Ohm DSA line. Building on their high-performance predecessors, along with flexible serial and parallel interface logic these new HaRP(TM)- enhanced devices also offer highly flexible attenuation options by covering a 31.5dB attenuation range in 0.5 dB or 1.0 dB steps. They have really expanded their portfolio from basic switches a while back.

Agilent Technologies introduced its Signaling Analyzer Real Time (SART) for Femto. This first-to-market technology extends the test industry's most complete, end-to-end wireless analysis and troubleshooting solution to femtocells, which access wireless networks via consumer broadband connections. The platform supports both standards-based and proprietary femtocell implementations.

ETS-Lindgren announced an integrated solution that lets wireless device manufacturers test their products for compliance with the CTIA – The Wireless Association®’s new requirement for over the air performance testing of Assisted-GPS (A-GPS) enabled mobile devices. With the upcoming release of the Version 3.0 of the CTIA’s Test Plan for Mobile Station Over the Air Performance, this requirement will become mandatory for certification testing at all CTIA authorized test laboratories (CATLs).

Rogers Corporation is featuring a variety of its high-performance materials and is participating for the first time as part of the RF Zone. Visitors can discuss their design challenges with Rogers' applications engineers, and learn more about Rogers' state-of-the-art circuit-board materials.

Cobham sells M/A-COM Technology Solutions

It must have been very difficult in this market but Cobham pulled it off and sold the commercial components portion of M/A-COM, M/A-COM Technology Solutions (MTS), to John Ocampo for $30 million in cash, $30 million in senior loan notes secured on the MTS assets and $30 million dependent on future revenue in the period 2010 to 2012. John is a very experienced RF/microwave person in the industry having been on the board at Sirenza and started Vari-L many years ago. MTS is exhibiting in the RF/microwave Pavilion at CTIA.

At the time of the acquisition of M/A-COM on May 13, 2008, Cobham said it planned to divest the commercial business segment MTS, as it was not core to the Group's strategy (Excluded from the sale are cash and the freehold of the Walker Building in Lowell, Massachusetts valued at $10 million). MTS recorded revenue of some $275 million and operating profit of less than $10 million.

I think this is a good transaction for MTS and its employees to be purchased by an experienced entrepreneur and leader like John Ocampo. This leaves the original M/A-COM in 5 places (see if you can get all of the correct). Tyco Electronics maintains the private radio group, Cobham has the defense products, Micronetics has the RFID products, John Ocampo has the commercial products and Autoliv has the automotive products!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

R&S Demos Femtocell Design Verification

At CTIA Wireless 2009, Rohde & Schwarz is demonstrating their LTE frequency division duplexing (FDD) testing capabilities based on the newest femtocell design from mimoOn. The compact test setup features the R&S® SMBV100A vector signal generator and the R&S® FSV signal analyzer to generate and analyze LTE signals that meet the newest specification.

The test setup on display at Rohde & Schwarz booth 6033 verifies that the femtocell reference design from mimoOn correctly operates according to the LTE specification that is about to be finalized. Accurate validation of the generated downlink signal of the mimoOn reference design is carried out with the R&S® FSV signal analyzer and the R&S® FSV-K100 downlink analysis option. The R&S® FSV’s innovative touch screen interface simplifies testing from the reference design to the final application of enhanced Node B (eNB) and Home eNB infrastructure.