Hopefully you have had the opportunity to listen to one of the webinars that the CommScope Microwave Systems team has given over the last few months. We have been focusing on the preservation of microwave spectrum because of the distinct shortages of spectrum in many regions and the high costs involved in purchasing this finite resource. And we’ve been focusing on how the performance of microwave antennas can impact spectrum conservation.

Think of an antenna like a flashlight (or a “torch” to Scots like me), beaming energy in one direction. Unfortunately, some of this energy will leak out in other than the desired direction. The escaping light will cause interference (or, in relation to the flashlight, get in someone’s eyes). From our testing, bad antennas will invariably leak a lot whilst good antennas retain most of their energy in the main intended beam.

The effects of this leakage are considerable. It corrupts data, causing it to be resent, and it slows the data rate, enabling less data to be transported over a link. It is pointless to spend lots of money on today’s most sophisticated radio equipment only to degrade it significantly with a poor performing microwave antenna. 

CommScope released its first Sentinel(TM) antennas a few months ago with the message of how European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) Class 4 pattern performance could help increase capacity, improve coverage and lower network operating costs by preserving more spectrum. 

Today, ETSI Class 4 is the standard that microwave antenna designers should all be aiming for—particularly for roll-outs in areas where interference could be a major issue. But with the growing amount of data needing backhaul and the desire to future-proof networks, we cannot stand on our laurels. ETSI Class 5 specifications and higher are surely just around the corner if we are to have reliable and cost-effective systems transmitting information in years to come. 

In the meantime, CommScope has extended the range of Sentinel products available to its customers with the release of 0.6 m (2 ft) antennas at 15, 26, 28, 32 and 42 GHz. These new frequency bands provide operators with a greater opportunity to better control the “flashlight beam” of their antennas and protect their networks from interference in these bands.

About the Author

Jim Syme

Jim Syme is product line manager for CommScope’s Microwave Systems division, responsible for business development in the European region with additional global management responsibility for several major OEM customers. Jim began his 23-year career with Andrew Corporation in the microwave antenna design engineering group and is a regular participant at conferences on all matters related to microwave antenna systems. Prior to joining Andrew Corporation, Jim was a design engineer for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

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