LTE-pointer-compressedWouldn’t it be great to have full mobile coverage everywhere you go across Australia? Being connected all the time has the potential to make life so much easier and work a lot more productive. You can check your e-mail or business applications via the Internet. You can also stay abreast with online news that’s updated almost instantaneously, keep in touch with friends via social media and collaborate with co-workers via messaging services. Who wouldn’t want to stream almost every form of digital entertainment imaginable – and on demand - directly to their phone?

It’s no exaggeration to say that mobility has freed us from physical boundaries that used to circumscribe our social and economic lives.

Today, wireless operators have significant challenges to overcome before the above scenarios become ubiquitous. Data intensive applications such as video conferencing, streaming and rich media via mobile devices are putting pressure on operators’ infrastructures; however, operators’ revenues are not increasing proportionally. One major Australian operator reported a 5.1 percent growth in mobile revenue (between 2013 and 2014) with a similar increase in operating expenses while data usage surges with people depending more on social media.

Operators can enhance their revenue and boost mobile network efficiency for LTE in a few key areas of the RF path. In our experience, improvements in the antenna subsystem can deliver huge benefits in network performance. By deploying ultra-wideband base station antennas with excellent pattern control, operators can capitalize on multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) and carrier aggregation technologies for much higher throughput. This translates to more bars showing up on a phone, which leads to greater customer satisfaction and lower churn.

Compact low loss mast head amplifiers (MHAs) and combiners offer great RF performance in a small package, which is especially helpful if expensive real estate is hard to come by on a cluttered tower top or in a densely packed equipment room. In the same vein, operators can also bundle power and fibre conductors together in a multiple remote radio units (RRU) hybrid fiber cable installation that increases cable density with only a minor increase in cable size. Given Australia’s unique wildlife and environment, integrated bird protection on the fibre and power break-outs provide longer term reliability and lower installation costs.

In short, there are many improvements in the RF path that can provide Australian mobile operators with the better performance, higher reliability and lower total cost of ownership that they need to meet rising expectations on network performance.

I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences – good or bad - in your LTE upgrade journey. What other changes do you foresee for the RF path?

About the Author

Reece Baines

Reece Baines is director of wireless sales, Australia and South Pacific for CommScope, responsible for leading the wireless sales activities in the region. Reece works closely with wireless operators to provide the best match in RF path solutions as they roll out their networks. He first joined the company in a technical role with the base station antenna R&D group after gaining 15 years of experience in the military communications industry. Reece holds a master of business administration degree (Technology Management) from La Trobe University and an associate diploma in engineering (Electronics) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

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