As we move further into the LTE era, antenna systems must evolve to keep up with increasing capacity demand.
Challenges arise as operators battle against limited and expensive real estate and congestion at current sites. It’s becoming clear that operators have to do more with the space they have available if they are to provide the capacity that today’s LTE subscribers expect.
One solution currently in development are Active Antenna Systems (AAS). A recent paper from Commscope (top link), outlined the benefits of AAS. It states that AAS demonstrates significant potential to reduce the site footprint, offers built-in redundancy and improved thermal performance, which can result in lower failure rates. However, despite being ‘in field trials’ for almost 20 years, AAS are yet to reach the mass market.
When can we expect AAS to become a common element in today’s networks?
During research for the new Antenna Evolution Focus Days taking place at major LTE World Series events in 2014, it was found that, like most telecoms innovations, the rise of AAS will depend on the market. AAS developments at present are mainly confined to only the most advanced markets, with the US and China leading the way. The commercial deployment of TD-LTE in China in December last year is creating economies of scale for AAS solutions and we are beginning to reach a tipping point, where the benefits of AAS outweigh the costs.
So, is 2014 to be the year AAS finally reach the mass market? As operators begin to look more closely at this solution, a number of questions remain. Will AAS be a specialist or general solution? Which sites will benefit most from AAS deployment? And what are the benefits and pitfalls of AAS compared with passive antennas?
These issues and more will be debated by antenna experts from across the globe at this year’s Antenna Evolution Focus Day where we will also look at challenges associated with evolutions in other antenna systems including, DAS, MIMO and small cells.