When new frequency bands (e.g. 700, 800, 1400MHz) become available, operators need to review the smartest ways to upgrade their wireless network, especially when it comes to deploying new spectrum across base station antennas.
And while the radio frequency (RF) domain is changing quickly, it’s better to plan this network modernization carefully to maximize benefits while minimizing costs in the long term.
I’ve outlined five steps that mobile network providers can take when selecting new antennas:
It’s critical to understand the current and future frequency bands that the operator is planning to use (at least for the next five years) and when these bands will be available. This information serves as a guide for BSA selection.
Next, we need to link technologies to the listed frequency bands, taking into consideration the technology generation, MIMO order, used features (e.g. beam steering) and radio module types (single RAN, separated radio, dual radio band, etc.).
Combiners are mainly used to reduce the number of running cables/jumpers and share two, three or four frequency bands/technologies on the same antenna ports. Using combiners will drive the operator to share the same e-tilt setting with all combined branches.
Next go back to the frequency matrix and add your combiners. By completing this step, the total number of needed RF ports is identified.
Check your network inventory, warehouse and installed antennas. Do your antennas support all mentioned frequency bands or only some of them? How many antennas are needed to cover all these bands and ports?
Try to have two or three options. For example:
Option1: new 22ports (6xLB + 8xHB + 8xBeamSteering).
Option2: Using 2 existing antennas: 14ports (6xLB + 8xHB) and 8ports (8xBeamSteering)
Option3: New 6ports antenna (2xLB + 4xHB) with using existing 8ports (4xLB+4xHB) and 8ports (8xBeamSteering).
Step 5: Categorize with tower structures:
Based on your tower structures and their load capability, you will categorize your sites and select the best antenna solution from them.
New sites: will use new 22ports antenna.
Medium structure sites: 2 existing antennas will be used: 14ports with 8ports antennas.
Heavy duty structures sites: new 6ports with existing 8ports and 8ports (beam steering) antennas will be used.
This should provide a blueprint for deployment. If you have questions or would like support from CommScope, please get in touch.
Elie Kanakri is CommScope’s technical marketing manager for EMEA and APAC regions. He joined CommScope in 2016, responsible for supporting mobile operators and OEMs to develop and modernize their networks. He has been in the wireless communications domain for more than 14 years. Prior to his current position, Kanakri held various positions in the radio planning and optimization department at Syriatel Mobile Telecom. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from Damascus University.