Modern Fence Wars

The Texas Rangers brought peace to the “Fence Wars” of Texas in the late 1800s. Today, CommScope’s Interference Mitigation Filters help keep the peace in wireless spectrum. Erik Lilieholm explains how in today’s blog post.

Texas Fence WarsThe great state of Texas is where I make my home. It is a big state and the saying goes, “Everything is bigger in Texas.” It is a place with a colorful and sometimes controversial history. The open range land stretching to the horizon was once big enough for farmers, ranchers and hunters to coexist without encroaching on each other. By the late 1800s however, good pasture and water had become scarce, coveted resources. That, and the invention of barbed wire, contributed to the heated and often violent battles known as the Fence Wars. The legendary Texas Rangers were called upon to settle the dust.

That same time period also saw the first attempts at wireless communication. The radio pioneers had access to any spectrum they needed as all of it lay fallow. Interfering with other users was of no concern. Fortunately so, since their spark gap transmitters could create a good deal of Out-Of-Band Emissions (OOBE) even when skillfully tuned.

We can usually count on history to repeat itself and consequently, frequency spectrum is now a precious commodity. Everyone needs to stay within their licensed boundaries without trespassing upon the neighbors. In certain situations, avoiding such infringement requires the use of Interference Mitigation Filters (IMF). One typical case for IMFs is where one user’s transmit (downlink) band is too close in frequency to another’s receive (uplink) band.

Not so long ago I was called upon to help solve a case here in the heart of Texas. In this instance a cellular carrier had installed a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) on a university campus. When the DAS was turned up, it was discovered that the uppermost carrier with downlink close to 894 MHz was interfering with public utility uplink radio channels near 896 MHz. Those radios suffered a degradation of at least 15 dB due to OOBE from the cellular transmitters. The emission levels complied with regulations – the two radio systems were just too close to each other in location and in frequency.

Because modern-day Texans are known for civility, the two radio operators did not reach for their six-shooters to settle this territorial conflict—they reached out to CommScope. Their situation was not unlike what we encounter in a number of countries around the world using a varying mix of 850 and 900 MHz cellular spectrum. Because of the variability, we developed a flexible IMF design platform that was, in this case, adapted to provide over 30 dB rejection of the offending signals. An on-site trial confirmed the solution was 100 percent effective. This was of course a relief for the “victim” but no less so for the cellular carrier who could now safely turn up that top channel and regain much needed traffic capacity.

Across the world, spectrum is being reallocated to meet capacity demands. At CommScope, we are ready to pin that tin star on our chest and help make peace along the fence lines—in Texas and elsewhere. Job done, we can all mount up together and ride off into the sunset.

Have you considered where new interference scenarios can occur with broadcast and two-way operators, on co-location sites and in cross-border regions?