Dropped calls on cell phones due to faulty antenna placement have been selectively publicized, as in the case of the Apple iPhone 4G, but have been a common occurrence in all phones released in the past two years. Mobile carriers are putting heavy pressure on manufactures to avoid, if not eliminate the problem as soon as possible. No, actually they want it done now.
That puts the problem squarely in the laps of the test and measurement industry, which is meeting the demand with some alacrity as demand for the products increases and new technology boosts speeds and transmission rates are coming online.
Of keen interest to product developers are compact solutions that test engineers can keep in their offices or at least within spitting distance. Companies like Agilent, Aeroflex and Anritsu are providing several desktop solutions. A small company in Boston, octoScope, has pulled the wraps off a refrigerator-sized anechoic chamber, the octoBox, that can test mobile devices without having to solder coax directly to the device antennae and deliver more real-world results.
"Lab testing with the devices’ actual antennas, even when the radios are not MIMO, is better than soldering coax to the antenna connections," said Charles Gervasi, an engineer with Four Lakes Technology in Madison, Wisconsin. "For functional test in production, an over-the-air test is the only option. Automated test equipment can be configured to test multiple devices at once in the chamber." (Read Gervasi's full review of the octoBox here.)