This post is by Kevin Linehan, vice president and chief technology officer of antenna systems for CommScope.
For the first time ever, the LTE World Summit event in Amsterdam will include an Antenna Evolution Focus Day, bringing together some of the top business and technology leaders and analysts in the antenna industry. I’m very excited to be speaking at this event, but I want to share some of what I’ll be discussing with those who cannot join us.
There are basically three ways of adding capacity to a wireless network, which remains one of the primary concerns in our industry. All three impact base station antennas:
- Adding spectrum
- Improving spectral efficiency
- Adding cell sites or sectors
The addition of more spectrum, when possible, and the roll-out of LTE in one of its 44 frequency bands means antennas have to support multiple technologies. The two-port antenna of old is gone. Six or more ports are becoming standard, and the move to multi-beam technology as part of this is also heating up.
Most significantly, antennas have a big role to play in 4G networks by helping to decrease noise and interference in the system. LTE is basically a noise-limited technology and the role of SINR (signal to noise plus interference ratio) is significant. We promote the concept of sector sculpting for what antennas need to do to best limit interference. Side-lobe roll-off should be significant to decrease interference in adjacent sectors, and remote electrical tilting remains a valuable tool for controlling beam patterns.
The industry also needs a common way to define such parameters. That’s what the BASTA recommendations from the NGMN (Next Generation Mobile Networks) Alliance, an industry group founded by leading international mobile network operators, are all about. Defined in the white paper Recommendation on Base Station Antenna Standards, the BASTA standards define radio frequency parameters common to all antenna models, making it possible for operators to accurately compare the antenna technology that is necessary for implementing high quality wireless networks. I will also be speaking about how CommScope continues to adopt and promote the BASTA standards in our antenna models.
Finally, adding cell sites often comes in the form of metro cells or mini macros. We are exploring and validating how antenna performance can improve network performance in this layer in addition to the macro network.
Check out the video below for more details. Hopefully, you will join me in Amsterdam on June 23. If not and you have a question, leave me a comment on our CommScope blog and I’ll reply.