Experiences and Future Challenges in Prototyping RF Systems and their Components from 5G Towards 6G

In 5G communications, mm-wave transceivers based on phased arrays have brought many new requirements for testing and prototyping of RF systems from components to complete links and beyond. Classical conductive measurement techniques are no more feasible or even available for system level characterization due to the large number of antennas and sensitive RF front-end connections towards antenna elements. Therefore over-the-air (OTA) techniques are mandatory from the basic research of proof of concept prototypes up to the verification of commercial products. Designing and testing of digital front-end signal chains will face new challenges in the early phase of 5G and beyond RF solutions. In this presentation, approaches to build complete systems from system design to prototype testing and link level performance evaluation will be discussed. As an example, 5G prototype link level measurements, OTA measurements for performance optimization and link budget estimation based on those are covered. This is followed by discussion on the vision towards 6G communications including views on anticipated hardware requirements and test beds to demonstrate ideas and the enabling key technologies.