The 5G world is almost upon us and with it will come new applications such as virtual reality, augmented reality, self-driving cars, digital healthcare, robotics, and massive use of the Internet of Things (IoT), all of which will affect our daily lives. However, to achieve these capabilities, there are still numerous technical and economic challenges facing the industry that must be solved.
Massive multiple input multiple output (mMIMO) antenna and radios systems are a key enabler of the Advanced LTE (4.9G) and 5G ecosystem. While these systems will be used for both small cell and macro sites, one of the challenges for mobile network operators (MNOs) is how to deploy these systems on already crowded and constrained macro sites.
RFS is developing Active-Passive Antenna (APA) systems that address this challenge. APAs are systems in which mMIMO systems and the passive antennas used in 4G systems are tightly integrated through shared electronics, radio frequency (RF) components and chassis. RFS will feature a prototype APA at Mobile World Congress Barcelona in February 2018. While development challenges remain, a fully developed system offers the following benefits. It:
- Simplifies adding and deploying mMIMO systems on existing crowded macro sites
- Minimizes visual impact and total cost of ownership (TCO) for towers by reducing wind load
- Shares some components between the mMIMO and passive antenna structures to lower the initial cost and weight compared to other options
- Requires no additional antennas in a sector
- Uses passive antenna volume and a mechanical frame to enable an efficient thermal management
system, resulting in a more robust and reliable system
- Minimizes additional operating expenditure (OPEX) and site negotiation requirements
Written by Emmanuel Saint Dizier,
Vice President Strategy, RFS