Five Myths about Wireless Network Antennas

Mohamed Hamdy 160x160 Mohamed Nadder Hamdy May 18, 2016

Antenna-ports-compressedBase station antennas on cellular towers are like closed boxes in that we rarely get a chance to look inside. They can’t be opened without getting damaged outside, and their size and weight make them difficult to display indoors. This could be the reason why so many misperceptions surround the technology, which have turned into myths over time. CommScope felt it was time to explore some of the most common myths related to these mysterious boxes, revealing a few of the industry’s best-kept secrets.

In the new white paper, Antenna myths for base station antennas, I dissect the top five misconceptions about base station antennas:

Myth 1: Antenna parameters are invariable

Antennas are analogous to audio speakers. We’ve noticed that low-end models exhibit different performance across our human audible range (20 Hz to 20 kHz). For this, equalizers are inserted to boost bass and treble ranges. Similarly, wide-bandwidth antennas, if not properly designed, might show different performance across their supported ultra-wide spectral ranges and e-tilts. And yet, people often think the parameters are the same for all antennas.

Myth 2: A panel antenna has the same pattern as its radiating elements

Network engineers are familiar with panel antenna patterns and electrical tilting in the horizontal and vertical planes. There is, however, a misperception about how the panel’s overall pattern is shaped.

Myth 3: Multiple input ports mean multiple arrays inside

Most RF planners believe that buying an antenna with different physical connectors and separate tilt controls means more integrated antenna elements arrays inside. It will then be safer for passive intermodulation (PIM) and voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR). This is yet another misconception.

Myth 4: Multibeam antennas have multiple arrays inside

When twin and tri-beam antennas are mentioned, the first idea that jumps to mind is a combination of two or three arrays, carefully positioned to radiate in different directions. Or perhaps there are other ways that this might work?

Myth 5: Beam steering requires active antennas

Many believe that the only solution for beam steering lies in active antennas—antennas with integrated radios. But these are still being debated in the industry. Despite reducing site footprints, active antennas can restrict future upgrades and harden maintenance. Yet one of the main long-term benefits is fully electrical beam steering and massive MIMO (Multiple Input/Multiple Output). That can’t be another myth, right?

Want to get the real story behind these common antenna myths? Read the white paper Antenna myths for base station antennas to find out. If you still have questions, leave me a comment.

About the Author

Mohamed Hamdy 160x160

Mohamed Nadder Hamdy

Dr. Mohamed Nadder Hamdy joined CommScope back in 2015 as the director of Mobility Network Engineering. He provides technical expertise to the Middle East and Africa operators and OEMs, aiming to optimize RAN architectures, for cost and performance, with innovative products. From 1997 to 2015, Mohamed was with the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), holding senior roles across the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Nigeria—including as CTO in Etisalat Nigeria, head of Mobile Network Capacity Planning (then Mobile Technology Strategy) in Etisalat UAE, and regional radio planning manager in Etisalat Egypt. He holds Ph.D., Master of Science, and Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical communications engineering from Alexandria University (Egypt) dated 2012, 2002 and 1994, respectively.