The capacity crunch faced by wireless operators is old news already, but that doesn't mean the problem is going away any time soon. Our mobile society and its love for bandwidth-heavy data ensures that networks will struggle to keep up with prolific demand, especially in LTE environments.
With capacity issues at the forefront, we’re hearing two primary questions from network operators today:
- How do I get more capacity out of my existing technology and spectrum assets?
- How do I seamlessly introduce new technologies, such as small cells, to my existing network in order to increase capacity?
The CommScope team addressed these questions and many other topics during meetings with numerous customers at CTIA 2013 in Las VegasMay 21-23. In addition, various news media and industry analysts visited us for discussions—see what Philip Sorrells, CommScope’s head of strategic marketing for wireless, had to say to RCR Wireless News and TMCnet about the capacity crunch during video interviews conducted at the CommScope meeting room at CTIA.
While there is no magic wand that will fix capacity problems, operators do have ways to cost-effectively stay ahead of demand, such as using the concept of sector sculpting. Sector sculpting is a creative approach to antenna pattern shaping that carves out more capacity, improves coverage and limits interference. It boosts network performance by better controlling interference between sectors and increasing the number of accessible subscriber channels. Sector sculpting antennas can radiate multiple, tightly defined RF patterns from one antenna unit. Through its Andrew brand, CommScope offers multiple sector sculpting antenna solutions, including the Six Sector Solution, which utilizes advanced antenna technology that can make site acquisition and installation easier by enabling the use of three antennas where six were previously needed. Other Andrew offerings for sector sculpting include the Six Sector Solution, Five Beam, 18-Beam, UltraBand™ and SmartBeam® base station antennas. In addition, the Andrew Sentinel™ microwave backhaul antenna uses a similar pattern shaping approach to boost capacity between microwave links.
In addition, distributed antenna systems—the original small cell solution—are an established and effective way to boost capacity in certain spaces, such as within buildings, stadiums and other venues. But as networks become more loaded and sectors are added, it can add another layer of complexity to DAS. As a result, CommScope has stripped the complexity out of integrating a distributed antenna system (DAS) into a macro wireless network by upgrading its ION® platform into a simple to use, plug-and-play solution. The new ION-U features integrated guidance and intelligence, enabling wireless network operators to design, plan, deploy and optimize a DAS more quickly and efficiently and at a lower total cost of ownership.
Speaking of small cells, the industry is awash in discussion about how they can help add network capacity. But they have challenges, including siting in high traffic urban areas. Where do we place them, and how, in areas were space is limited and people don’t want them seen? Well, just ask the RF expert—CommScope. We have an answer, and you’ll hear more next week.