US firms in active antenna trial: good news for macro site providers

Active antennas are poised to play a critical role in LTE deployments, supporting greater capacity and coverage, more flexible use of spectrum bands, and power efficiency, cell:cm Chartered Surveyors has learned. News source Rethink Wireless reports one of the world’s first major field trials, with an unnamed US operator in the 700MHz band, claims to have achieved a 40% increase in cell capacity.

The multisite trial was conducted by partners CommScope and Ubidyne and completed in late 2011. The obvious candidate to have backed the test was US Operator Verizon Wireless, the most advanced deployer of 700MHz LTE, and a cellular operator which has expressed interest in active antenna technology in the past.

Operators and macro-base station vendors are pinning hopes on active antennas to maximize the use of their existing spectrum and cells, before they need to harness additional bands or deploy secondary layers of small cells to meet rising data capacity demands. Michael Frankle, CEO of Ubidyne, said in a statement: “This successful independent verification shows that operators can now get maximum coverage and capacity from their macrocells using active antenna technology before investing in costly small cells.”

Commenting on the reports Cell:cm management believes UK Operators will note the results of the testing and seek to replicate viable options in the UK. This will allow operators to provide additional network capacity from existing installations and rely less on smaller streetlevel micro and pico cell sites, which is good news for existing rooftop and greenfield mast site providers.

Site providers should look out for notifications and requests from their operators for consent to equipment upgrades and seemingly innocuous antenna swap works. For advice on either of these scenarios or any other matter involving your mast site, please contact Cell:cm.

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