Semiconductor Equipment

New test solution supports NB-IoT devices for GEO satellites

19 April 2024

The satellite communication service market, once comprised primarily of individual operators offering proprietary services, has grown rapidly since the standardization of non-terrestrial network (NTN) communications provided by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) global consortium in its Release 17. Not surprisingly, the need for verifications based on the standard specifications has grown alongside the market’s expansion.

A new protocol sequence test extends the functionality of the MD8430A signaling tester, above, to support NTN NB-IoT. Source: Anritsu A new protocol sequence test extends the functionality of the MD8430A signaling tester, above, to support NTN NB-IoT. Source: Anritsu One answer to this growing need can be seen in a new test solution aimed specifically at NTN devices for geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) satellites. Developed by test and measurement provider Anritsu, the solution takes the form of a protocol sequence test — i.e., testing for attributes such as location registration, call placement, incoming call reception, mobile device/network disconnection and handover — and it extends the functionality of the company’s MD8430A signaling tester to support Release 17’s definition of NTN NB-IoT, or narrow-band internet of things.

NB-IoT makes it possible for IoT devices to connect to the network with low power consumption, enabling communications in areas that terrestrial base stations cannot cover. It can be used in fields such as maritime shipping, logistics, mining and automobiles. As Electronics360 reported recently, NB-IoT also supports new use cases including asset tracking, remote monitoring and emergency services, allowing mobile network operators to provide coverage to a wider geographical area and a larger number of subscribers.

On its own, the MD8430A can be used as a base station simulator to build a simulated network. In addition to verifying normal communications procedures, it supports fault operation tests — something Anritsu describes as difficult to perform at connection with live base stations. The new protocol test solution, which consists of software option NTN NB-IoT (GEO) MD8430A-043 and control software option NTN over IoT Framework for RTD MX800050A-070, allows the MD8430A to be connected to an NTN device for GEO satellites, simulate communication delay and transmit information to a device for delay compensation. Factoring in delay is essential because the distance between a GEO satellite and an NTN device, according to Anritsu, is approximately 36,000 km.

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