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2012 7th International ICST Conference on Communications and Networking in China (CHINACOM)

Test Methodologies for Active Antenna System

Gang LIU, Xiang WU, Zhe CHEN, Dongyi ZOU

China Telecommunication Technology Labs
China Academy of Telecommunication Research of MIIT
Beijing, China

Abstract—Test methods for Active Antenna System (AAS) have As shown in Figure 1, the AAS Transceiver Unit Array
been a hot topic in 3Gpp. Conductive and Over-The-Air (OTA) consists of multiple Transmitter Units (TXUs) which take the
test approaches are two main candidate methods. In this paper, baseband input from the Base Station and provide the RF TX
the structure for Active-Antenna-System is introduced and the outputs [4][5]. The RF TX outputs may be distributed to the
advantages and disadvantages between the two test Antenna Array via a Radio Distribution Network (RDN). The
methodologies are discussed. Consequently, the balance between Receiver Unit (RXU) performs the reverse of the TXU
efficiency and accuracy may be delicate. operations. For MIMO technologies, the RDN performs the
distribution of the TX outputs into the corresponding antenna
Keywords- AAS; OTA; Conductive Test; TXU; RXU
paths and antenna elements, and a distribution of RX outputs
from antenna paths in the reverse direction.
Recently, test methods for Active Antenna System have
been a hot research point in 3Gpp [1], and many methods were Transceiver Unit #1
#1 #1
Array Element
proposed to test AAS RF requirements. There are two main #2 Radio #2
candidate test approaches for AAS - Conductive test approach TXU/RXU #2
(Combiner/Splitter approach being one example of this), and (RDN)

the Over-The-Air test approach [2][3]. #K #L


Conductive test approach is an economical one because of AAS Transceiver Unit Array
Radio Distribution Network Antenna Array(AAS-AE)

its efficiency and lower environment requirement. However,

OTA test is introduced to AAS due to AAS’s unique features.
Figure 1. General AAS Radio Architecture
If the conductive test is adapted, additional path loss will be
introduced by passive networks or phase shifters, and some
assumptions should be made (such as coherent vs. non-
coherent combining of certain types of signals, uniformity of There may be a multiple antenna ports connection for some
gain across the array elements), which lead this method relies or all of its transceivers or with an antenna array related to one
heavily on assumptions within the calculation and brings cell, and the transmitters / receivers signals from one or more
great errors. For designers, antenna connectors will be added transceivers appear at more than one antenna connector, or
into AAS structures, or coupling test points will be added into transmitters and receivers are connected via duplexers to more
AAS structures, which limit the technology development of than one antenna. Therefore, an active antenna array includes
AAS future products. implementation of diversity, beam-forming or spatial
OTA test approach is a more accurate one to capture overall
performance and test integrated system requirements without
extra insertion loss. However, it needs an anechoic chamber III. CONDUCTIVE TEST METHOD
and takes long time in testing, which leads to more cost than Conductive test method is based on the utilization of
conductive one. Because of the large DUTs size and the lower combiners and splitters for the transmitter and receiver tests.
frequencies, the scale of anechoic chambers may be too large to Illustrations of the combiner / splitter approach for the
be practical for most laboratories transmitter or receiver test setup is shown in Figure 2 and
Figure 3, respectively.
A. Transmitter Performance Test
To deal with the progress of LTE and optical network, a
new advanced antenna system should be considered, as applied The tests are performed from each radiator feeding point or
in the future requirement, through horizontal and vertical a combination of them equivalent to main beam direction
sectorisation, to frequency specific sectorisation, to user through an MxN: 1 combiner at each antenna array. The active
specific beam-forming. Therefore, Active Antenna System is antenna array is tested at boresight direction where the
introduced to solve the faced problems. combining will be at zero-degree relative phase shift between
all element paths in the array.

698 978-1-4673-2699-5/12/$31.00 © 2012 IEEE

efficiency and lower cost to build a proper setup without a
CONVENTIONAL BASE STATION large scale chamber. The method is considered as some extent
in TS 36.104 and TS 36.141, and the specification doesn’t need
CONNECTOR to be modified too much. It can be designed to emulate the
AAS BASE STATION(M Row*N Column Array)
intended tapering and beam steering for the AAS element
array by choosing proper gain and phase offset.
N Columns
However, some defects may be introduced by this approach.
Firstly, additional path loss should be considered for passive
networks and phase shifters, and it requires many assumptions
in the test methodology, which may lead to deviations from the
M Rows
true performance; Secondly, it requires appropriate connections
and settings to use in the test, whereas, which are not agree on
comprehensively by all researchers and scholars; Thirdly,
antenna performance cannot be include in this approach, so that
M..3 2 1 M..3 2 1 M..3 2 1 M..3 2 1
the test result does not reflect the overall performance of AAS.
1 2 3 N
In addition, FCC 662911 has provided a test method on
COMBINER BS Tx OUTPUT how to measure the conductive output emissions from a device
that employs a single transmitter with multiple outputs in the
Figure 2. Combiner Approach Transmitter Test Set-up for BS with AAS same band. For common sense, two techniques have been used
to combine emissions from multiple outputs in order to
characterize the total emission level: measure-and-sum and
M and N is matched to the product array size under the utilization of a combiner. However, use of a combiner is no
instructions of vendor product. Combiner loss should be longer permitted for any conducted testing of emissions in FCC
calibrated out and there may be other scale factors to be taken 662911, either in-band or out-of-band and spurious, because
into account depending on the type of test being performed and correlation between outputs can cause the power of the
whether or not gain and phase offset taps are included in the combined output to be an inaccurate representation of the total
passive combiner. power.

B. Receiver Perfomance Test IV. OTA TEST METHOD

Similar as the transmitter test part, the receiver test uses a 1: The OTA test method is an accurate one to capture overall
MxN splitter at each antenna array in the reverse direction, and performance and test integrated system requirements without
the splitter loss should be calibrated as well. extra insertion loss. And it meets with FCC test in which
multiple antennas are connected to multiple transceiver ports as
would typically be the case for AAS tests. MIMO OTA
throughput is not considered at this time because the test
standard [8] has still been discussed in the Ran4 of 3GPP and
the choice of candidate test methods cannot be in agreement. In
the future, the MIMO OTA might be added in the test method
AAS BASE STATION(M Row*N Column Array)
for AAS, when the measurement technologies of MIMO OTA
N Columns
are mature.

M Rows

M..3 2 1 M..3 2 1 M..3 2 1 M..3 2 1

1 2 3 N

Figure 3. Combiner Approach Receiver Test Set-up for BS with AAS

C. Advantagies and Disadvantagies

The conductive approach is a piratical test method for most
AAS designers and producers obviously, because of its high

A. Environment Calibration
Anechoic chamber When testing transmitter performance, AAS is connected to
baseband processor unit and is set up to transmit signals.
Adjust the direction of AAS to point to the measurement
antenna. The measurement antenna is connected to frequency
Reference Mesurement
spectrum analyzer. Signals produced by baseband processor
Cable 1 Cable 2 unit, radiated to the free space by antennas in AAS, are
antenna antenna
Space Loss received by the measurement antenna and captured by
frequency spectrum analyzer, as shown in figure 5.
C. Uplink RF Testing
As shown in figure 6, when receiver performance is
measured, AAS is connected to baseband processor unit and set
up to receive signals. Adjust the direction of AAS to point to
the measurement antenna. The measurement antenna is
connected to a signal generator. Signals are produced by the
signal generators, radiated to space by the measurement
antenna, received by antennas in AAS and captured by the
Generator Analyzer or baseband processor unit.
Power Meter
Anechoic chamber
Figure 4. Calibration of OTA Test Pathloss

In OTA testing, the measurement instruments list should AAS Mesurement

Cable 1 Cable 2
mainly include signal generators, frequency spectrum analyzers antenna
or power meters, rotating pedestals, reference antennas, Space Loss
measurement antenna, etc. The reference point should be at Uu Rotating
interface. For this configuration, a calibration procedure would pedestal
be required to remove path loss from transmission
measurement between the reference antenna and measurement
antenna, as shown in figure 4.

B. Downlink RF Testing

Baseband Signal
Processor Generator
Anechoic chamber
Unit Signal

Mesurement Figure 6. Testing Uplink RF Set-up by OTA Test Method

Cable 1 AAS Cable 2
Space Loss

pedestal D. Advantages and Disadvantages
The OTA test approach is a matured method for testing
integrated system without the individual transceiver test [6][7].
It captures spatial characteristics, and the measurement result is
more accurate than conductive method.
Nonetheless, the strict environmental control requires an
anechoic chamber, and long time needs to be spent in the 3D
pattern test. The expensive cost maybe a heavy burden for
Baseband Spectrum some small antenna and equipment companies.
Processor Analyzer

Figure 5. Testing Downlink RF Set-up by OTA test method

V. CONCLUSION should be adopted. Therefore, there remains much work to
Nowadays, Active Antenna System has been a focus and deal with.
drawn a lot of attentions from the researchers all over the
In this paper, the structure of a typical Active Antenna REFERENCES
System is illustrated, and the two test approaches – conductive [1] 3GPP, TR 37.840 V0.1.0, Study of AAS Base Station, Huawei.
and Over-The-Air test methods are introduced. Since the two [2] 3GPP, R4-121336, Text proposal for comparison of different test
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[7] Gang LIU, Xiang WU, “Analysis of CTIA OTA 3.1 Version”,
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