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Wireless operators in Africa like in other regions are challenged to overcome the complexity of today’s wireless networks. Whether it’s 2G, 3G or 4G, wireless networks typically have to support multiple spectrum bands and technologies while preparing for more in the future. Regardless of the stage of evolution, however, it is always important to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) that a subscriber experiences. When planning for future evolutions, complexity, performance and reliability are variables that operators must consider.
African operators who are exploring LTE know that SNR has a significant impact in high data traffic areas. Improving the SNR and reducing interference are critical for subscribers to realize higher data rates. Finding and eliminating interference-whether within the channel or across adjacent channels-involves avoiding passive intermodulation (PIM). Often PIM components in band can be identified based on the frequencies in use. CommScope offers PIM Band and Block Calculators that might be helpful, explained by Lou Meyer in his blog post.
Proper antenna selection and tilting can help reduce interference between cell sites, optimizing the network. LTE networks require faster roll off between sectors to avoid interference issues, a process we call sector sculpting. Multibeam antennas can send out targeted signals that enable sector sculpting. These antennas can also be a good co-siting solution that is scalable, easy to maintain and upgrade. Supporting multiple bands can be complicated; however, there are a variety of solutions and tools out there.
The Understanding the RF Path e-book is a resource CommScope offers for free. It includes nearly 200 pages of insight into installation techniques, network concepts, RF fundamentals and more. You can access it as an app from our website (iTunes, Google play, Amazon).
I will be talking more about these topics at the AfricaCom 2013 trade show in Cape Town, South Africa, running November 12-14. My presentation "Tried and Tested Best Practices for the Implementation of LTE," part of the LTE@AfricaCom track, will be November 12 at 12:20 p.m. (UTC+02:00). Stop in for a listen.
What other topics come to mind regarding LTE implementation in African networks?