Antenna specialists boost mobile capacity
CommScope adds to its site sculpting portfolio while Ubidyne talks up 3D beamforming with NEC
Published: 13 February, 2013
Once hidden away in the depths of the supply chain, base station antenna makers have a higher profile in LTE because of the increasing importance of antenna advances in achieving maximum capacity. MIMO, active antennas and other breakthroughs have been essential to the mobile data network standards, and Mobile World Congress will see announcements from established majors like CommScope/Andrew as well as pioneers like beamforming specialist Ubidyne, all focused on a common goal - boosting capacity and efficiency for cells large and small.
CommScope uses the term 'sector sculpting' for a solution it introduced last summer and has now expanded. Its Six Sector Solution enables the use of three antennas where six were previously required, which makes it easier to acquire sites and install equipment since less hardware is involved. It relies on twin-beam antennas which support sector splitting and generate two RF beams from a single antenna. By increasing the gain in each sector by 3 dB, twin-beam antennas nearly double signal power, for better indoor penetration and higher data rates. The technology is available in most frequency bands for GSM, CDMA, UMTS and LTE.
VP of strategic marketing Philip Sorrells said: "The Six Sector Solution is an excellent way to significantly increase capacity by enabling the evolution of a traditional three sector site to a higher capacity, six sector site with the use of only three antennas." This is part of the sector sculpting approach to antenna pattern shaping, designed to improve interference control between sectors and increase the number of accessible subscriber channels. CommScope offers a range of sector sculpting antennas, all of which rely on radiating multiple, very tightly defined RF patterns to reduce interference. Others include the Five Beam, 18-Beam, UltraBand and SmartBeam products and the company has also applied the same pattern shaping technologies to its Sentinel microwave backhaul line.
Ubidyne is a pioneer of active antenna systems, and has been applying its technology to small cells. It has been working with NEC to investigate the performance of small cells that feature active antennas and 3D beamforming. The resulting white paper, 'Enhanced Network Capacity and Coverage with 3D Beamforming Small Cells", claims these units will be important enablers of LTE HetNets for boosting capacity.
The partners support an emerging class of metrocell which is based on a matrix of antennas able to carry out flexible vertical and horizontal beamforming. This technique can lead to an average macrocell load reduction of 40% says the study. Beam shaping can be done independently in the downlink and uplink and multiple simultaneous beams per cell can be used, with individual tilt optimization per beam. Such approaches can achieve up to four times higher load reduction than traditional passive small cells, claims Ubidyne. This can boost capacity but also reduce the number of cells and backhaul links required for coverage, cutting inter-cell interference and helping with site acquisition and power challenges.
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