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5G NR - Field Test: A Comprehensive Guide for 2023

Updated: May 17, 2023

5G NR - Field Test: A Comprehensive Analysis

The advent of 5G technology has brought significant improvements in network performance, data speeds, and latency. As the deployment of 5G networks accelerates worldwide, field tests become crucial in evaluating the real-world performance of these networks. This article provides an in-depth analysis of a 5G NR Field Test, discussing various aspects such as coverage, signal quality, throughput, and scheduling factors.


5G NR Field Test
5G NR - Field Test: A Comprehensive Guide for 2023

Field testing is a crucial step in the deployment and optimization of any wireless technology, including 5G NR (New Radio). It involves evaluating the performance of 5G networks in real-world conditions to assess their coverage, capacity, and quality of service. Here's an overview of the field testing process for 5G NR:

  1. Test Plan Development: Before conducting 5G NR Field Test, a comprehensive test plan is created. It outlines the objectives, methodologies, and parameters to be measured during the tests. The plan may include various scenarios, such as urban areas, suburban regions, and indoor environments.

  2. Test Equipment: Specialized 5G NR Field Test equipment is required to measure and analyze the performance of 5G NR networks. This includes handheld devices or test mobiles that support 5G NR, as well as test instruments for signal analysis, protocol testing, and performance measurement.

  3. Coverage Testing: 5G NR Field Test begin with coverage analysis, which involves measuring the signal strength, signal quality, and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) at different locations within the target area. This helps determine the coverage area of the 5G network and identify any coverage gaps or areas with weak signals.

  4. Throughput Testing: To assess the data transfer capabilities of the 5G network, throughput testing is conducted. This involves measuring the download and upload speeds achieved in different locations and under varying network conditions. It helps determine the network's capacity to handle high-speed data transmission.

  5. Latency Testing: 5G NR promises ultra-low latency, enabling real-time applications such as autonomous vehicles and remote surgeries. 5G NR Field Test measure the round-trip time (RTT) or latency of data packets transmitted between devices and the network. This helps verify if the network meets the latency targets for different use cases.

  6. Handover Testing: Handover refers to the seamless transition of a mobile device from one base station to another as the user moves. 5G NR Field Test evaluate the effectiveness of handovers in 5G NR networks, ensuring uninterrupted connectivity during device mobility.

  7. Beamforming and MIMO Testing: 5G NR utilizes advanced antenna technologies like beamforming and Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) to enhance signal strength and capacity. Field tests assess the performance of these technologies, measuring the signal quality and throughput achieved with different beamforming configurations and MIMO schemes.

  8. Interference Analysis: Field tests also involve analyzing the interference levels in the 5G network. This includes measuring the impact of co-channel interference from neighboring cells, adjacent channel interference from other frequency bands, and interference from non-5G sources. Identifying and mitigating interference is crucial for maintaining high-quality network performance.

  9. Quality of Service (QoS) Testing: QoS testing evaluates the overall user experience on the 5G network. It includes measuring factors like call drop rates, voice and video quality, packet loss, and jitter. These 5G NR Field Test help assess the network's ability to meet the QoS requirements for different services and applications.

  10. Data Analysis and Optimization: After conducting field tests, the collected data is analyzed to identify areas of improvement. Network operators and engineers optimize the network configuration, parameter settings, and coverage based on the test results to enhance performance, coverage, and user experience.

Field testing plays a crucial role in ensuring the successful deployment and optimization of 5G NR networks. It helps validate the technology's capabilities, identify potential issues, and refine network performance to deliver the promised benefits of high-speed, low-latency, and reliable connectivity.


1. Field Test Overview

Field tests are essential for assessing the performance of 5G networks in real-world scenarios. These tests help to identify potential issues, optimize network configurations, and ensure seamless connectivity. The 5G NR Field Test discussed here is based on data shared by an active reader and critic of 5G network performance. The test was conducted in an FR1 (Frequency Range 1) environment, with the gNB transmitting all SSBs (Synchronization Signal Blocks).

2. Coverage and PCI Analysis

The field test aimed to evaluate the coverage of each sector and the PCI (Physical Cell Identity) associated with each sector. The results showed that one of the sectors (PCI B) had slightly wider coverage than the other two sectors. However, it is unclear whether this difference was due to the intended deployment or other factors affecting the measurements.


Coverage and PCI Analysis
Coverage and PCI Analysis


3. SSB Distribution

The SSB distribution within each sector was also analyzed during the 5G NR Field Test. Although it was not always obvious, the dominant SSBs could be identified based on the angular positions in each sector.


SSB Distribution in 5G
SSB Distribution in 5G



4. RSRP and SINR Measurements

RSRP (Reference Signal Received Power) and SINR (Signal-to-Interference-plus-Noise Ratio) are critical metrics for 5G NR Field Test , evaluating signal strength and quality in 5G networks. The field test revealed that most locations had RSRP values ranging from -40 to -95 dBm, indicating a good signal strength.


The SINR distribution showed that most areas had values between 5 and 15 dB. While this is sufficient for 16QAM and lower-order MCS in 64QAM, it is not adequate for 256QAM, which requires higher SINR values.


RSRP and SINR Measurements
RSRP and SINR Measurements


5. MCS Distribution and BLER Analysis

The field test also examined the MCS (Modulation and Coding Scheme) distribution across different locations. Most locations were using MCS values under 20, which is reasonable considering the SINR values observed. Furthermore, the BLER (Block Error Rate) distribution demonstrated that most locations had a BLER of less than 10%, indicating good performance in live conditions.


MCS Distribution and BLER Analysis
MCS Distribution and BLER Analysis


6. DL MAC Throughput and Scheduling Factors

A key aspect of the 5G NR Field Test was analyzing the DL (Downlink) MAC (Medium Access Control) throughput within the tested area. The results showed that PCI A exhibited lower average throughput compared to the other two sectors. The question arises whether this difference is due to scheduling or BLER.


DL MAC Throughput and Scheduling Factors
DL MAC Throughput and Scheduling Factors


As the BLER was found to be similar across all sectors, the throughput difference is likely due to scheduling. To determine the specific scheduling factors responsible for this difference, it is necessary to investigate the number of RBs (Resource Blocks), SLIV (Start L-Index Value), MCS, and the number of scheduled slots within a radio frame. Unfortunately, this information was not available for further analysis.


DL MAC Throughput and Scheduling Factors
DL MAC Throughput and Scheduling Factors

7. Rank Index Distribution

The Rank Index (RI) distribution within the test area was also evaluated, with most areas reporting an RI of 3. This is not ideal, as the maximum rank is 4. It is unclear whether this is due to non-optimal channel quality or imbalances in the UE (User Equipment) Rx path.


Rank Index Distribution
Rank Index Distribution

8. PDSCH Scheduling Analysis

The 5G NR Field Test also examined the number of PDSCH (Physical Downlink Shared Channel) grants scheduled per second for each sector. The results indicated that the number of scheduled PDSCH grants was significantly lower in PCI A compared to the other sectors. This suggests that the lower DL MAC throughput in PCI A might be due to scheduling differences.


PDSCH Scheduling Analysis
PDSCH Scheduling Analysis

9. PDSCH RB Analysis

The number of PDSCH RBs for each scheduled slot was also analyzed. It was found that the number of RBs in PCI A was slightly lower than in the other sectors, but not enough to explain the DL MAC throughput difference.


PDSCH RB Analysis
PDSCH RB Analysis


10. PDSCH RB per Second Analysis

Finally, the field test assessed the number of PDSCH RBs scheduled per second. It was observed that the number of RBs per second for PCI A was significantly lower than the other two sectors. However, as the number of scheduled RBs per slot was similar across all sectors, the difference in the number of PDSCH RBs per second could be attributed to the number of scheduled slots per second.


PDSCH RB per Second Analysis
PDSCH RB per Second Analysis


Conclusion

The 5G NR Field Test provided valuable insights into the performance of a 5G network in a real-world scenario. The analysis covered various aspects, including coverage, signal quality, throughput, and scheduling factors. Although some data was unavailable for further investigation, the field test results highlight the importance of continuous monitoring and optimization to ensure the best possible performance for 5G networks.


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