NI and Spirent Communications collaborate on 5G performance test solution

17 July 2018

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

The collaboration will allow 5G chipset and device manufacturers to validate the performance of 5G NR smartphones and IoT devices in the lab – without requiring access to expensive and complex 5G base stations.

It was in June 2018 that the 5G standards body, 3GPP, officially approved the first round of 5G specifications. This important step will be followed by the specification of new architectural options and additional capabilities, as the standard is expanded over the coming months and years.

Consequently, device test solutions must be flexible – to quickly adapt to these changes, and to allow future upgrades while avoiding costly hardware changes as the standards evolve.
To this end, Spirent Communications, a leading firm for ensuring the right performance of devices and network services, has adopted NI’s flexible software defined radio (SDR) products in the development of its 5G performance solution.

Spirent’s solution will employ NI’s USRP (Universal Software Radio Peripheral) devices and mmWave Transceiver System and will include 5G NR test scenarios for mobile location, video, data, audio, and calling performance. Key architectural details of the solution include the use of LabVIEW FPGA to emulate layer 1 through layer 3 of the 5G NR protocol stack.
Said Rob VanBrunt, general manager of Spirent’s Connected Devices’ business unit: "Building on the strength of NI’s early success in 5G research and prototyping, combined with the modularity of its platform, accelerates initial interoperability and means our customers can feel confident that the platform can adapt to the evolving standards.

5G test engineers already recognise NI’s off-the-shelf platform as the industry’s most flexible and powerful hardware available. Integrating their advanced signal processing capabilities into our 8100 platform enables an attractive upgrade path for our existing customers." 
The new 5G performance test solution will include support for both sub-6 GHz and millimeter-wave radio bands and will integrate efficiently into Spirent’s existing network emulation platform. The system will also feature up to 2 GHz of bandwidth.
“The marriage of our high performance platform and Spirent’s best-in-class test methodology for measuring the mobile user experience is exciting for the industry,” said James Kimery, director of wireless research at NI. “Being able to assess the accuracy of cellular location in 5G environments and measuring the performance of video and data delivery are critical needs as 5G devices come online – starting in 2019.”
For more information on how NI is collaborating with industry and academia to define and deploy 5G, visit To learn more about Spirent’s 5G solutions, visit

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