Is Sector Sculpting the Answer for Wireless Capacity?

Phillip Sorrells - 11-5-13--thumb Philip Sorrells April 7, 2014
Six Sector Sector Splitting Twin Beam AntennasThis blog post is adapted from an article I wrote that was recently published in Voice & Data.

Wireless networks today are facing a massive capacity crunch. With a data hungry mobile society and its love for bandwidth-hungry applications, networks are constantly under pressure and struggling to keep pace, especially in LTE environments.

An effective way to solve the capacity problem is through sector sculpting. It is an ingenious approach to antenna pattern shaping that enables operators to carve out more capacity, improve coverage and limit interference.

Sector sculpting deals with all these issues and boosts network performance by controlling interference between sectors. It also helps in increasing the number of accessible subscriber channels.

What is sector sculpting? It has to do with advanced features that are available in the latest base station antennas. Sector sculpting is basically specialized RF pattern shaping that is made possible with directional antennas, both in azimuth (horizontal direction) and elevation (vertical space). Sector sculpting allows precise wireless coverage with minimal interference with neighboring cells.

A critical performance metric is the overlap of energy between neighboring cells and sectors. The sector power ratio is a comparison of signal power registered outside and inside a desired receiving area as a consequence of an antenna's radiation pattern. The lower the ratio, the better the antenna's performance.

Interference can increase due to overlapping competing signals and eventually reduce performance. This causes performance issues, like dropped calls. Usually, interference can be minimized through sector sculpting techniques. With sector sculpting and the resulting improved containment of interference, the same frequencies or codes can be reused in cells that are closer to each other while also increasing spectrum efficiency, capacity and network performance.

Sector sculpting becomes even more important for 4G/LTE networks since interference needs to be minimized if one desires to maximize the potential of MIMO. An increasing demand for faster speeds and seamless services means selecting the right antennas and using sector sculpting techniques will become important considerations for all operators.

What do you think? Can sector sculpting provide relief for the capacity crunch?

About the Author

Phillip Sorrells - 11-5-13--thumb

Philip Sorrells

Philip Sorrells is vice president of strategic marketing for CommScope, a global leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks. He is responsible for marketing strategy, linking key trends in the industry into marketing strategies for telecommunications networks.  Mr. Sorrells has 20 years of experience in the telecom industry with Allen Telecom, Andrew Corporation and CommScope, having spent 10 years prior with Texas Instruments. He has led the wireless industry in adopting many antenna system innovations—including remote electrical tilt (RET) technology for network optimization—and pioneering the concept of “agile networks,” which formed the basis for current initiatives in self-organizing networks. Mr. Sorrells has three patents related to antenna systems and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Texas Tech University.