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Over the Air (OTA) vs contact testing

One of the fundamental questions to answer when testing a wireless technology is whether or not to test it wirelessly. This comes down to a debate between contact testing and over-the-air (OTA) testing, and views differ.

Contact testing relies on probes touching pads and making measurements directly. It short-circuits the antenna and looks directly at the signals being presented to the antenna. It is much easier to do, and losses are much lower. But it does not include package and antenna effects in a finished product.

AIP devices require a radical change to the existing contact test solutions.

Key is to design the device in collaboration with the rest of the hardware (contacts, interface board) during early stages to meet test requirements. Cost is a main consideration whether to do contact or OTA testing. Special considerations are needed for the RF FEM (Front end module), given the importance of Module/System level test (SLT).

As part of the 5G/6G MAESTRO project, work on this page is supported by the Office of Advanced Manufacturing in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), under the Federal Award ID Number 70NANB22H050.

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