BASTA is the term given to a comprehensive set of recommended standards for base station antennas. Approved by the Next Generation Mobile Network (NGMN) Alliance, these recommended base station antenna standards represent a significant step forward for the wireless industry. As more antenna manufacturers embrace the standards, it will help wireless providers make more informed, accurate and cost-effective decisions regarding base station antennas and ultimately lead to improved network performance, growth and profitability.
The development and content of the BASTA standards will benefit those involved in wireless network design, maintenance and management. It also suggests steps wireless network providers can take in working with antenna manufacturers to accelerate the implementation of the recommended standards.
The performance of a base station antenna is a key factor in the overall performance and quality of the cellular communication link. Over time, base station antennas have grown significantly more capable and complex. As antenna configurations become increasingly intricate and performance characteristics multiply, comparing antennas becomes more difficult.
The first generation of base station antennas consisted mainly of vertically polarized omnidirectional antennas whose RF performance could be characterized by basic variables such as frequency range, gain and circularity. Soon after, antenna manufacturers began to incorporate improvements, including fixed electrical tilt and sectorization. As a result, characteristics such as front-to-back ratio and 3 dB azimuth beamwidth became important when comparing products. Adding cross-polarization increased the number of performance variables, and this aspect was multiplied when variable electrical tilt was introduced to the mix.
Historically, the wireless industry has suffered from a lack of commonly defined and accepted standards regarding how base station antenna specifications are measured and presented. An antenna’s physical properties, RF performance measurements, and even the meaning of common terms such as “gain” can vary depending on the manufacturer. For the wireless provider, it is difficult to know how a specific antenna will perform within its specific network, let alone choose which antenna might provide the best fit.
Today, RF performance is just one of several facets of an antenna that network operators must consider during planning and purchasing. A variety of environmental characteristics, testing protocols and manufacturing processes must also be considered and, somehow, fairly compared. The difficulty for wireless providers, however, is being able to make meaningful side-by-side comparisons between antennas.
BASTA-recommended guidelines are designed to reduce the confusion and complexity of antenna selection by enabling wireless operators to make an “apples-to-apples” comparison. Industry-wide adoption of the standards can improve everything from the purchasing process to network performance and profitability.
Ultimately, adoption and implementation of the BASTA guidelines is up to the antenna manufacturers, with each having to determine how quickly and to what extent they will participate. However, wireless operators can play a significant role in determining whether wide-scale implementation of BASTA begins in the very near future or years down the road.
Want to know more?
Read this white paper: http://www.commscope.com/docs/basta_timetoraisethebaronbsas_wp-108068.pdf or see the range of wireless training courses we offer.