To alleviate capacity concerns in their macro networks, many wireless operators are exploring or deploying lower power and smaller footprint cell sites. Often referred to as small cells, these applications, which are designed to increase overall sector density, or capacity, can present challenges when it comes to acquiring sites and integrating them into the macro wireless network.
“Crowded cell sites, zoning restrictions and RF engineering challenges make finding the right solution for adding network capacity with cell densification quite challenging for operators,” said CommScope’s Philip Sorrells, vice president of strategic marketing, Wireless. “Operators need options that can be tailored based on specific site requirements and deployed in a timely, cost-effective manner without disrupting service.”
In many urban and suburban areas, because the cost of acquiring a cell site can be greater than the cost of installing equipment, operators are looking to deploy lower power and shorter antenna cells (or mini-cells) that occupy less space. Operators often must aesthetically reduce the visual impact of their RF equipment to meet zoning and leasing requirements. Operators also must attend to engineering concerns such as minimizing interference with adjacent sectors and providing adequate backhaul to limit bottlenecking.
Looking to address these challenges, CommScope is adding its expertise in macro site deployment to multiple Andrew RF cell densification solutions. The company’s versatile small cell solution portfolio includes:
The ION-M distributed antenna system (DAS), which the company has deployed in numerous outdoor campuses of up to 20 kilometers in distance. “We view DAS as the original small cell platform for improving data throughput and quality of service for the subscriber,” said Sorrells.
Integrated concealment solutions that hide RF equipment in a monopole under one radome, which can be installed as standalone street poles or on existing structures. These concealed small cell solutions are customizable based on height and diameter, power output, sectorization and integrated Andrew RF equipment. All models are radio agnostic, meaning interoperable with existing radio equipment in multi-carrier environments with shared infrastructure.
Wireless backhaul support including the Andrew Sentinel Class 4 microwave antenna, now available in a compact and powerful 0.3 m (1 ft) diameter model. Sentinel antennas increase capacity through better spectrum reuse and longer deployment of higher modulation schemes, typically resulting in 40% higher network density. Groundbreaking radiation pattern envelopment offers superior interference immunity while sturdy design lends superior durability even in winds of up to 250 km/h (155 mph).
“You have to be flexible and creative to deliver small cell solutions that meet real-world deployment challenges,” said Sorrells. “I believe that CommScope is well-equipped with experience and a variety of product options to make small cell deployment a success for our customers.”