August 23, 2023

A communications backbone: The strengths of passive infrastructure

Passive infrastructure is fundamental to the communications landscape. It forms the network backbone; its low latency supports the seamless flow of data, voice, and multimedia services over long distances. Its durability and reliability make it the workhorse of the ecosystem, as it plays a crucial role in maintaining consistent network performance.

Peter Raabe, Strategic Marketing Director

At RFS, we are specialists in the passive space with a wide portfolio of premium passive solutions. Our expertise in this area allows us to push RFS solutions to reach the full potential of what is achievable with passive technologies and support our customers and their network evolution.

In this blog, Peter Raabe, Strategic Marketing Director, at RFS, looks at the advantages of passive infrastructure and what can be achieved with passive equipment.

The 5 advantages of passive equipment

  1. Energy efficiency: With no active components like amplifiers or electronics needing power, passive equipment offers a significant advantage over active alternatives. It does not add to the overall power consumption of a system. It does not produce heat, removing the need for system cooling. It requires fewer resources to perform. The result is significant energy savings, making passive devices environmentally friendly with the added advantage of reducing TCO.
  2. Reliability: With no active elements, passive equipment has fewer points of failure, making it, in many cases, a more reliable option. Passive equipment also has a much longer life span, which allows us at RFS to design long-life equipment that performs, without degradation for decades. Customers using passive equipment can expect reliability over an extended period.
  3. Lower maintenance costs: Building on the reliability of passive solutions, customers also benefit from lower maintenance costs. Passive solutions are designed to perform without the need for regular maintenance. This is particularly valuable in challenging environments like tunnels and mines where maintenance is challenging and results in unwanted downtime while equipment is serviced.  
  4. Agnostic: The carrier-agnostic nature of passive infrastructure allows infrastructure to accommodate multiple service providers and carriers. As the industry looks to models such as tower sharing to improve profitability, carriers can share the load of infrastructure investment with passive systems and minimize duplication of resources.
  5. Cost-effectiveness: Passive equipment generally has a lower upfront cost in comparison to its active counterpart. Selecting a passive solution, therefore, allows a lower CAPEX cost. Additionally, as we mentioned discussing the sustainability benefits, lower power, cooling, and maintenance costs allow for reduced OPEX.

Premium Passive in action

We can see that there are multiple benefits for procurement teams that look to passive equipment. However, it is also key to see what can be achieved with passive infrastructure. Premium passive equipment pushes the boundaries of connectivity as can be seen in these three case studies.

Glasgow metro

RFS was selected to deliver the project following benchmarking trials where our RADIAFLEX radiating waveguide, a unique and innovative solution for in-tunnel wireless applications in the 5-6 GHz band, was found to have significantly better performance when compared to alternative solutions. The installation proposed by RFS allowed the customer to reduce the number of active components needed. The system was able to serve a kilometer distance between access points. This resulted in lower initial costs and a system that will require far less maintenance, reducing total cost of ownership. The cable is designed to sit in tunnels for decades without the need for upgrade or attention, giving the reassurance of a futureproofed solution.

Mining in Canada

Mining is an industry where reliability and durability are top of the priority list. RFS has worked on a range of mining deployments, including projects to supply RADIAFLEX radiating cables in mines throughout Canada. These deployments met the two key requirements of the customer. First, to enable voice communications, video feeds, and remote control of mining equipment in areas where human control of equipment is too dangerous. Secondly, ensuring the constant connectivity that is needed for safety and regulatory compliance.  Here the passive equipment deployed by RFS delivered the robust performance needed in such harsh environments.

Hong Kong 5G

Hong Kong is one of the absolute world leaders when it comes to 5G coverage, with it already exceeding 90% of the population. As part of a trial deployment at Hong Kong international airport, a partner was needed to help deliver 5G infrastructure. RFS took care of the cable requirements, providing CELLFLEX and RADIAFLEX series cable with additional factory-fit jumpers and connectors. The cable was installed in the APM tunnel at HK international airport in 21/22 to deliver the world’s first successful deployment of 5G radiating cable in-tunnel to support 3800 MHz.

There are real advantages to deploying passive equipment. However, the key to reaping the full benefit of passive solutions is working with a designer that focuses on pushing the innovation boundaries of passive equipment. At RFS, our R&D teams are continually evolving the capabilities of our solutions to keep pace with the industry and changing needs of our customers.