In the South African market, operators are quickly adopting
the next generation of wireless technology. Many are currently exploring what
network equipment and design will best support LTE and future technology
platforms. Part of this exploration has included trialing integrated base
station antennas, which combine the remote radio unit with the antenna. The
question South African operators (and all wireless operators, really) need to
answer regarding such solutions is, what level of integration is practical?
A fully integrated antenna system weaves one or more RRUs
into the antenna, placing the whole structure into a single enclosure.
Obviously such integration reflects the broader cell site trend of placing the
radio closer to the antenna to reduce signal loss and power consumption. Many
in the industry now agree that moving the radio up the tower is a good idea.
But is fully integrating the RRU with the antenna just as good of an idea?
What if there is a maintenance issue such as a lightning
strike that damages the radio equipment? At that point, operators may need to
take the whole integrated unit down for repair. Fully integrated systems do not
provide the flexibility to fix damaged equipment without taking the whole site
down or allow for easy upgrade of the radio units when new technologies need to
Fully integrated antennas remind me a bit of the televisions
that had VHS players integrated in them. If the VHS part broke, you had to take
the whole TV in for repair, losing the ability to watch your favorite shows. Of
course, VHS also became obsolete, and many people were stuck with a TV that had
an outdated, unneeded component. That would be like having an antenna that
works, but an RRU that is becoming or has become outdated.
A tower top design that is less integrated could allow for
the removal of just the elements that are damaged or in need of replacing. For
example, a less integrated antenna system allows for the RRU to be swapped out
without having to remove the antenna. A less integrated antenna system provides
the same advantage of a reduced foot print on the tower, reducing the space
occupied by equipment and therefore reducing the wind loading and leasing
costs. Less integrated systems offer the flexibility for upgrades to the active
or passive components of the systems.
That’s the approach CommScope takes with the Andrew SiteRise
tower top solutions. We focus on standardizing the connections and
pre-assembling the components to optimize performance and provide cost and time
more about the latest evolution of SiteRise.
What do you think? What level of antenna/RRU integration is