Industry-Wide Effort Soon Culminates in Global BSA Standards Recommendations

Did you know that the wireless industry does not have one set of electrical and mechanical parameters for base station antennas despite their importance for network performance? While true, that fact might be changing thanks to the efforts of our Kevin Linehan, CTO of Antenna Systems, and others in the industry group NGMN. An NGMN white paper is coming out soon that makes the first-ever recommendations for global BSA standards. Kevin gives a sneak peak into the effort in this blog post.

Base station antennas (BSA) are a key component in the RF path that strongly impact the performance of mobile networks. Despite the importance of these antennas in providing quality service to subscribers and effectively transmitting RF signals, there are no global standards for the specification of their electrical and mechanical parameters.

For example, the term “front-to-back” is used throughout the industry to denote the measure of energy emitted from behind an antenna compared to in front. A low front-to-back measure means a significant amount of energy is emitted behind the antenna, possibly causing interference with other equipment. It is one of many important electrical parameters to be considered when buying an antenna. But there is no single, agreed upon standard for defining front-to-back. This lack of uniformity leads to confusion and inefficiency when it comes to customers actually comparing and ordering products.

That is all about to change, however.

CommScope, along with Telecom Italia, has led a committee at Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) to develop a white paper that addresses BSA performance criteria by making recommendations on standards for electrical and mechanical parameters, and by providing guidance on measurement practices in performance validation and production. It also addresses recommendations on applying existing environmental and reliability standards to BSAs.

The guidance provided in this white paper will make a valuable contribution to the industry as it enables operators to have confidence in the performance of their antennas, and to make accurate evaluations and comparisons of antenna products. For vendors, it enables them to differentiate high performance antennas and enhances the marketplace reward for high quality, innovative antenna products.

The release of the white paper is imminent, and CommScope expects that all major operators and vendors will implement its recommendations. I led this effort for CommScope and have been intimately involved in working it through a committee that included all the major global vendors. NGMN is an operator driven, industry alliance of global wireless operators and vendors, part of whose mission is:

To give guidance to equipment developers and standardisation bodies, leading to the implementation of a cost-effective network evolution.

I believe we will fulfill that mission when the new white paper issues. The NGMN will be announcing its availability in the near future. I will blog more about it when it does.

In the meantime, if you have questions about what is in the white paper, leave a comment and I will reply with as much information as I can.