“There is a paradigm shift from hardware- to software-centric radios”


Rohde & Schwarz (R&S) is a supplier of solutions in the fields of test and measurement, broadcasting, radio monitoring and radio location as well as mission-critical radio communications.

For more than 75 years, the company has been developing, producing and marketing a wide range of electronic products. Headquartered in Munich with subsidiaries and representatives active in over 70 countries around the world, Rohde & Schwarz has achieved its global presence greatly. Dilin Anand of EFY speaks to Yatish Mohan, managing director, Rohde & Schwarz India Pvt Ltd about the trends and challenges while working with the latest technologies.

Yatish Mohan

Q. What are the different verticals that R&S focuses on?
A. Rohde & Schwarz has diversified product portfolio, which focuses on five verticals: Test & Measurement, Radio Communications, IT Security, Radio Monitoring, and Location and Broadcasting.

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In Test & Measurement, we further define business segments as aerospace and defense, telecom, EMI/EMC test houses and Wide Based horizontal market segment which comprises mainly of general Electronics manufacturing & Educational and Research Institutes. Fortunately, India market space provides opportunities in all verticals with our diversified product portfolio.

Q. Could you elaborate on the challenges faced while designing next-gen products for each of those verticals?
A. The challenge is to have products with a platform to absorb new evolving technologies and form factor suitable for field usage and supporting easy portability. Multiple devices in one, larger memory capacity & longer battery power, high accuracy, compliant to highest safety standards and finally prices which are substantially lower than the traditional R&D Lab equipments.

For R&S, designing the products for each of the main verticals need knowledge in a diverse field encompassing Military technology, Broadcasting, and also latest telecom technologies like 3G and 4G.

Q. What are the challenges faced with respect to measurement while working with MM wave and terahertz frequency?
A. For measurements in microwaves and terahertz frequencies, the challenges are in maintenance of proper Environmental Lab conditions for complete 24 hour cycle. Supporting accessories & probes and also the local support in providing world class calibration facilities are other challenges for these frequency ranges.

For extending the measurement frequency, we use up converters for signal generation, which is available up to 110Ghz and down converters for Signal analysis which is available up to 500Ghz .The main challenge is to handle the very small connectors and test devices at such frequencies and also the accuracy of the measurement devices which are difficult to predict with a high level of certainty.

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Q. Could you elaborate on the focus of the R&D center in India?
A. Customers still need a lot of test cases to be developed for R&D and network operator IOT testing and see R&S as a partner for the R&D signaling test case development. RS INDIA has set up its R&D centre in Bangalore to cater to the local needs of chipset and UE vendors, and network operators in India.

With high level of technical knowledge and domain expertise our skilled R&D engineers can develop test cases for our customers from L1 to L3 using MLAPI and LLAPI. This enables the customer to leverage on the core competence we have on the platform and also on the test case support for their own chipset/UE R & D. There is an added advantage for these customers as R & S as a single vendor takes the responsibility of the feature set on the platform as well as the test case.

Q. What are your views on modular instrumentation vs. traditional box type?
A. While PXIe and VXI technologies have been around for more than a decade now, customers still continue to show a strong preference for box type of test equipment. Main reason is that debugging of firmware and repair of Box type of equipment is far easier than the module. Having said this, certain niche industry like automation is witnessing good demand of PXI/VXI instrumentation. However, A&D and telecom industry’s demands are mostly met with box based solutions only.

We are aware that of late some PXI based solutions are introduced in telecom market however it is rather early to comment on their functionality as these devices are yet to be tested and accepted by users.

Q. Test & Measurement Equipment Management; how to best get it done?
A. Most of the T&M equipment are designed for lab usage, which requires a controlled operating temperature. The optimum performance of the equipment is specified in the range of 23 to 28 deg C, though most of the equipment is usable from 5 to 45 deg C. Regular calibration at recommended interval by the manufacturer (one/ two/ three years) would ensure that the equipment performs within specified limits.

R&S India has ISO 9001:2000 certified Quality Management Systems and ISO 17025 Accreditation by National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for its Central Repairs & Calibration Laboratory in Bangalore, which helps customers to keep their instrument usable over the years, leading to controlled cost of ownership.

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Q. What are the challenges faced while working with the new 802.11ac?
A. Today’s smartphones carry cellular and non-cellular technologies. The reason is that the number of mobile applications has grown along with the increased use of smartphones and tablets which has resulted in a huge rise in bandwidth demand. This demand is driven, to a large extent, by the popularity of streaming videos on smart phones and tablets.

For cellular providers, this increased demand has burdened their network capacity and found them wanting. The network operators are now slowly knocking off their unlimited usage plans and now going back to metered plans. This increased demand is also taxing the Wi-Fi network to supply sufficient bandwidth, especially as there are a large amount of powerful mobile handsets arriving on the market scene every day.

Bulk file transfers, streaming videos, database searches and Voice over Wi-Fi are placing increasing demands on a network’s ability to provide consistent bandwidth. This is where technologies like 802.11ac are becoming increasingly important due to the large bandwidth and advanced MIMO techniques they cater to.

From a testing view point, 802.11ac poses a lot of challenges. As the 802.11ac devices make use of OFDM modulation, use wider channel bandwidth than 802.11n, higher order modulation with eight streams and enhanced multi-user MIMO techniques, designers and manufacturers need to understand the complex requirements not only from product creation context but also from the way the testing has to be carried out.

The testers will need wide IF bandwidths in vector signal analyzers and generators, and improved transmitter modulation accuracy for testing multi-user MIMO requirements. Single box testers combining a VSA and VSG of today will not be able to test 802.11ac due to the increased bandwidth requirements.

More number of VSA and VSGs will be required to test the eight streams as a part of the multi-user MIMO technique. The challenge to measure accurately the transmitter modulation accuracy will mean that the VSA should have a very good EVM specification.

Q. How is airborne, shipborne and tactical radio-communication different from the hardware point of view?
A. The radio keeps the same technology for airborne, ship borne and tactical use, however, the form factor changes as per the requirement of the platform. For example, manpack use or portability can be the requirement for tactical radios, fitting them in a given fixed space is a requirement for ship borne or airborne radios.

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Secure radio communications is one of the key technology areas for Rohde & Schwarz. There is a paradigm shift from hardware centric radios to software centric radios. Rohde & Schwarz is actively and consistently driving the technology innovations to achieve truly multiband, mulrole and multimode radios for airborne, ship borne and tactical use.

Q. Do advancements in a vertical complement or help your other vertical in anyway?
A. Yes, definitely, advancements in a vertical complement do help us in other verticals.

For the telecom domain, R&S has been very active in digital or vector modulation, which evolved from the wireless telecom standards of GSM, CDMA and WCDMA. Now, we see increasing deployment of digital modulation in A&D, mainly in space and satellite communications. Many of our products now are finding common usage in A&D and Telecom verticals. Also, the digital domain knowledge of our engineers facilitates us to promote and support our products in an effective way.

Q. Could you speak to us about your marketing strategies in India?
A. The key priority of Rohde & Schwarz India is to strengthen the business through the market awareness and thereby effectively address the challenges of rapidly-changing innovative technical advancements in competitive context.

Our advertising and promotions (print/road shows/seminars/conferences) spends have also been stepped up to ensure that the innovations and technical specifications are fully supported. In order to give a comprehensive information about our new developments, we always make sure our presence in most of the industry talked exhibitions/tech-fests.

Q. Could you give us an idea about your hiring policies in India?
A. We are definitely increasing our technical manpower in all areas be it sales, application or technical services. R&S’s current product portfolio addresses a very broad spectrum of wireless applications. Besides traditional high end/high cost products, R&S also now offers a large range of value products to cater to the growing demand of wide based general purpose T&M market.

We are currently hiring sales engineers in tier 2 & 3 cities as it is not viable to address this market by our own sales and applications force based in four metros. Also we expect our R&D activities in telecom domain to exponentially increase in not too a distant future which will result in further hiring of software engineers.