26 Feb 2018

Active Passive Antennas address 5G demand

Wireless and broadcast infrastructure provider, Radio Frequency Systems, RFS, has announced its new Active Passive Antenna, APA system. This has the key factor that it interleaves a 5G Massive MIMO antenna with a passive 4G etc antenna under the same radome, and also within the existing physical outline and dimensions.

In this way it will be very easy to introduce new antennas onto existing towers, thereby saving considerable cost and easing the migration to 5G.

The APA antenna is being developed in response to operator demand to combine the antennas for 3.5GHz mMIMO with existing passive systems, thereby addressing the significant challenge they face in relation to cell site restraints when looking to deploy new active antennas in dense urban areas.

This product is unique and is a form of antenna that will undoubtedly see considerable uptake in the market in view of the cost savings that can be made.

The RFS interleaved APA system has a number of benefits:

  • Simplifies the evolution to 5G, allowing operators to easily deploy active antennas and thereby introduce support for new spectrum bands to existing macro sites without needing to increase the overall antenna count per sector (and minimizing visual impact).

  • Lowers Total Cost of Ownership due to shared chassis and RF components between the two antenna systems and reduced windload.

  • More efficiently tackles the common heat dissipation issue associated with active antenna technology. RFS’ APA system takes advantage of the design and housing of the existing passive antenna to act as the heat exchange for the active antenna, driving efficiency, increasing reliability and reducing overall weight by downsizing the bulky heatsinks that are typically needed.

  • A further advantage is that, combining the multiple antennas means that there no change in the visual impact of deploying the new antennas and gaining 5G coverage. With many people aware of environmental factors, this could be a key issue.

“Operators will have many different options for deploying 5G active antennas, but for dense urban locations where space is a considerable issue, APA technology is a very efficient approach,” said Herbert Merz, CEO at RFS. “Investment into infrastructure is going to grow considerably with 5G and so will deployment complexity. This new approach will help to streamline that evolution.”

The APA is effectively a two-in-one system housed in a form factor that’s the same size as the systems operators have already deployed. By interleaving the two antennas using RFS’ longstanding heritage and expertise, it’s been able to minimize distortion while ensuring consistent high performance of both systems. This results from the fact that the antenna has been developed as a single item, rather than having two separate antennas which will undoubtedly cause mutual beam distortion.

For operators, APA technology will therefore allow them to prepare for 5G’s evolution while also improving their 4G and LTE-A networks to support ever-increasing demand for capacity.

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