Over at Betavine Witherwire there's an interesting post on the challenges of consistently testing multi-antenna devices which will shortly appear on the market. The author of the post mentions that even without MIMO, 3G network capacity could increase by 50% if all devices are equipped with multiple receive antennas and sophisticated noise cancellation algorithms. Obviously that also translates in higher throughput per device. Consequently, network operators are likely to be very interested in these developments and accurate testing of the performance enhancements is a must.
While many tests with mobile devices today are performed with the air interface simulated over a cable, that won't work that easily anymore for MIMO and receive diversity as the antennas in the device are effectively bypassed. It's the antennas and their location and shape inside the device, however, that will make the big difference. More details in the post linked to above.
So I wonder if it's possible to model the impact of the antennas by simulating their characteristics in addition to the signal path with a simulator box that sits on the cable between a real base station and the mobile device)!?
A formidable challenge and I look forward to what the guys in 3GPP RAN4 come up with.