RF emulator, also known as RF channel emulator and fading simulator, is a tool for air interface testing in wireless communication. It is used in test environments to replace and simulate the real-world radio channel between a radio transmitter and a receiver.
An RF emulator is able to emulate real-world RF channel conditions in a lab environment that can help customers reduce costs whilst allowing them to avoid having to perform tests in actual live field environments – which in many cases can be very dangerous.
Applications for an RF channel emulator
An RF channel emulator can be used in a wide variety of industries and wireless applications. Wireless systems and technologies have slowly but surely become the standard, and most industries nowadays utilize some sort of wireless technology.
As such, there’s an increasing amount of new products and technologies that need to be tested. As of today, RF emulators are primarily used for:
- Designing and testing RF systems
- 4G and 5G networking testing
- Satellite system designing
- Radar system designing
- Tactical radio/EW system designing
- Cellular systems
- PCS systems
- Mobile radio
- Audio/video broadcast
- Antenna array systems
- Wireless LAN systems
- Wireless local loop
- Cable modem
- … and many more
The importance of an RF emulator
The world is becoming increasingly more wireless. As such, wireless test automation using different technologies such as the RF channel emulator has become a necessity to be able to stay ahead in the race, or at least stay in it, of creating more and more capable products and systems.
Depending on the RF emulator, they can potentially support a product throughout its complete lifecycle: from early development and evaluation through product release and certification to production testing and in-service performance assessment.
Not to mention that the RF spectrum environment is constantly changing due to a number of factors such as:
- Terrain and man-made blockages
- Atmospheric changes
- Unintentional or intentional interference
- Coexistence of civilian/government RF usages
- Non-conforming radios
An RF emulator can be used to emulate these things to help you develop a product that can properly handle them. Bluetooth, WiFi, 2G/3G/4G/5G. As with every other function, the wireless capabilities of your product need to be able to fulfill the demands of the customers. In the end, the future is wireless, no doubt about it. Invest in an RF channel emulator to test your products and ensure the wireless capabilities are up to and better than the market standard.