5G antennas: small is beautiful
by Martha DeGrasse
Small cells will play a vital role in 5G, but traditional towers also have an important role to play in next-generation networks. Tower owners are already seeing operators add new antennas that will support LTE today and eventually be upgraded through software to support 5G in the lower bands. Antennas that support massive MIMO and beamforming require multiple ports, and some of them are at least 8 feet tall and 2 feet wide. There's a limit to the number of these that can be added to a tower, especially if they're supplementing other antennas that are already there.
Equipment vendors realize that compact antenna solutions are needed for 5G. Radio manufacturers are developing integrated radio/antenna solutions, and they're laser-focused on network efficiency.
Nokia has taken some of its chip designs in-house as it works to add network capacity without increasing the size of its hardware. Its new ReeShark chipset uses antenna elements based on the same radio frequency integrated circuits used in smartphones. Nokia says that by growing a mobile phone antenna instead of shrinking a macro antenna, it's creating antenna elements that are significantly smaller than those in use today. Elimination of heat sinks also shrinks the antenna.
Silicon Valley startup Blue Danube is preparing to trial an active antenna that it says can support simultaneous beamforming over multiple frequency bands, helping operators support more users with a single compact antenna. Blue Danube, which is partially owned by AT&T, says its high definition active antenna solution enables operators to dynamically move radio signal to areas of high demand. By using hardware more efficiently, operators can support more users without adding more equipment.
Global BTS antenna market analysis and forecast
The definitive guide to base transceiver station antennas for wireless networks. This primary research includes antenna design analysis, in-depth forecasting of antenna trends, and geographic demand data, as well as market share by revenue and by shipments for 19 leading global antenna vendors. Report produced by EJL Wireless Research.