Anritsu picAnritsu’s wireless signal testing equipment helps ensure that smartphone users can be heard and seen.

By Jim Harris

Most people probably don’t think twice about how they’re able to receive a signal to their smartphones in public places – until they’re unable to receive calls and texts or use any apps. The smooth operation of a wireless network is largely taken for granted by smartphone users. However, making sure those users are able to use their phones or other devices effortlessly is the main concern of one of the world’s largest wireless technology equipment providers. The products and services provided by Anritsu ensure that wireless networks powered by distributed antenna systems (DAS) or large antenna towers – known as macro networks – continue to run as they should. The company, founded in 1895, is a pioneer in the implementation of wireless technologies including 2G, 2.5.G, 3G and 4G – and soon to be 5G – telecommunications. Anritsu manufactures a full range of advanced testing and measurement equipment for mobile wireless as well as radio frequency (RF), microwave and other networks. “We are the only company whose equipment can perform a complete suite of tests including optical backhaul, Fiber-to-the-Antenna, coaxial line sweep, Passive Intermodulation (PIM) and spectrum analysis,” says Gregg Toback, the company’s field sales manager for the eastern region of the United States. Anritsu box Anritsu’s customers include electrical or other contractors as well as broadcasters, mobile service carriers, utilities, transportation, manufacturers and government entities. “Our handheld, wireless communications test equipment is designed and manufactured in the United States, which is unique within our industry,” Toback says. “Competitive test equipment manufacturers are typically based in the Far East. While their products may satisfy a need, there will always be challenges when our industry demands fast changes to their equipment or software to meet today’s growing customer expectations. We can introduce and beta test new features within days.” Increasing Productivity
Anritsu specializes in providing equipment used in fronthaul and backhaul testing applications on DAS and macro systems. Backhaul denotes the cabling, lines and other equipment coming from an Ethernet (or other) service provider that connects to a base station unit. The base station unit transmits and receives signals within the DAS system. Fronthaul includes signals and information coming from the base station that are being transmitted through a series of cables, interconnects, multi-plexers and antennas ultimately to wireless devices. “Through our testing products, our aim to increase the productivity of high-count DAS systems, productively and cost effectively,” Toback says. “When you test a DAS system, you are testing the entire coaxial or fiber-optic plant to the antenna and beyond. It’s extremely important to validate that the system will sustain traffic during the highest-level times of cellular demand, such as a packed home game in a large stadium.” Anritsu’s testing product can simulate the highest demands on a network, ensuring passing results for PIM, Return Signal Strength and minimal interference, he adds. The many antennas and feed lines in DAS systems presents a unique challenge to testing. “In a macro system, you might see a handful of antennas on one tower. With a DAS system, there are often hundreds of antennas, 1,000 interconnecting lines feeding those antennas, creating the need for performing thousands of different unique tests, or traces, for a contractor or carrier,” Toback says. “It is difficult to manage this many traces, address re-testing needs and report passing results back to the carrier in a timely manner.” The company last year developed a solution to this challenge. SkyBridge Tools is cloud-based trace judgment reporting and management software that gives users the ability to quickly create Test Plans, enabling fast and accurate testing and assisting users in report creation. “What this means is that if an installer had 4,000 tests/traces at a venue, they upload those tests to the SkyBridge Tools cloud server,” Toback says, noting the system judges each trace against the carriers Pass/Fail specification. Results are generated in minutes. “Before SkyBridge Tools, you had to manually judge every single trace individually; Skybridge does this at rates of thousands of traces at a time, saving the contractor hours to days to weeks of manual labor.” Malko Communication Services LLC, a Chicago-based electrical contractor and DAS system installer, is one example of a successful Anritsu solution user who will benefit from SkyBridge Tools. “This is the industry’s first tool that improves your ability to minimize redeployments for repairs, close out a test more quickly and get paid faster,” Toback adds.   Improving In-Building Coverage
Anritsu also recently introduced the NEON Signal Mapper, a 3-D indoor mapping application for use with many of the company’s handheld spectrum analyzers. The application enables users to map digital and analog two-way radio systems, cellular and Wi-Fi coverage within a building. Users create 3-D building maps using existing floor plans.  Wireless coverage data is captured on the Anritsu instrument, supported by an Android device, NEON Tracker and custom software. Details are processed and accurately presented on the floor plan, supporting the contractor or carrier business case when seeking to maximize in-building coverage. The NEON Signal Mapper supports the need for first responder radio system coverage within a building. The National Fire Protection Association Code 72 Section 24, requires coverage of 95 percent of buildings with a minimum radio signal strength of -95dBm for all public safety frequencies, including in stairwells and elevator shafts. Many First Responder in-building public safety radio coverage codes were updated following Sept. 11, 2001, when First Responders died in the World Trade Center because they were unable to hear dispatchers commands clearly . Placement of DAS antennas and their signal strength did not take into account coverage in challenging spaces such as within elevator shafts, stairwells or infrequently used portions of the building, Toback says. “We are the only company presenting the ability to test the operational DAS system with regard to the coverage needed for First Responders and to address coverage needs during high traffic events,” he adds. Support and Training Programs
Anritsu offers extensive support and training services to its customers. The company operates two service centers in the United States, a Texas-based technical call center, and employs a staff of Field Application Engineers in every time zone. Customers can also seek support from one of the company’s independent factory trained Manufacturer’s Representative companies, as well as its network of authorized distribution partners, Toback notes. Anritsu training resources include no charge, eLearning classes and video tutorials and Application Notes.  Contractors needing to pass carrier approved training classes can attend Anritsu Professional Training Certification classes scheduled throughout the United States. Attendees must pass carrier and Anritsu approved levels of competency via written and practical exams. “There are thousands of people possessing Anritsu Professional Training Certificates on many of our instruments,” he adds. “You’re more likely to find someone trained on Anritsu equipment than any other equipment in the industry.”

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