As more and more devices join our networks and use up our valuable bandwidth, what can we do to keep our networks functioning?
More and more devices are eating up available wireless bandwidth and we need to ensure that we have the maximum available signal by fine tuning antennas. If you think about how many portable devices you have at home, that you and your family might take out with you that can connect to the internet, it could include mobile phones, iPads, games consoles, ebooks and cameras etc. All of these could need at least one connection during the day and some would be continually connected.
Devices like the iPhone are driving a massive increase in demand for wireless bandwidth and the problem will grow as hungry bandwidth devices like the iPad and other tablets become more popular with their multimedia experience, like data heavy videos and games.
Growth in data traffic is putting immense strain on the operator’s network. To increase capacity, operators have five primary tools at their disposal:
Adding cell sites is an effective but expensive approach to adding capacity. In general, adding new real estate is time consuming and increasingly prohibitive. With median inter-site distances, dropping from 5 km to 2 km and recently to less than 200 m in dense urban areas the operator has less choice in selecting affordable property. Doubling the number of cell sites approximately doubles the network capacity and the throughput per user (assuming the user density stays constant), and greatly improves the peak user and the aggregate throughput per km.
Adding sectors such as changing from 3 sectors to 6 sectors is a useful way to approximate the introduction of new cells. However, this does not quite double the capacity as the “petals” of 6 sector coverage do not interleave as well as 3 sector coverage, and the fractional overlap of 6 sectors is greater. This also challenges hand-off processing when near highways. This is a common approach in dense urban areas where rooftops are available. There is about a 70 percent increase in capacity in moving from 3 to 6 sectors in an environment with low angle spread (where the base station is located above the clutter).
Adding carriers (or more accurately, bandwidth) directly adds to capacity. The LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard is particularly adept at utilizing increased bandwidth without increasing control channel overheads.
Improved air interface capabilities such as in evolving from UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) to HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) that provided well over four times the aggregate downlink capacity. Improvements in air interface (while leaving everything else the same such as bandwidth and antenna configuration) is seeing diminishing returns on improvements. Something more than simply increasing modulation and coding rates is needed.
Smart antennas provide the next substantial increase in throughput. The peak data rates tend to be proportional to the number of send and receive antennas, so 4X4 MIMO is theoretically capable of twice the peak data rates as 2X2 MIMO systems. By “smart antennas” we refer to adaptive antennas such as those with electrical tilt, beam width and azimuth control which can follow relatively slow-varying traffic patterns. As well as so called intelligent antennas that can form beams aimed at particular users or steer nulls to reduce interference. And finally Multiple-Input Multiple Output (MIMO) antenna schemes.
If you would like to know about the technologies discussed here, the CommScope Infrastructure Academy SP6920 course contains the information you will need to make these critical decisions.
Otherwise why not get CommScope Certified with one of our many wireless training courses today.