Antenna Downtilt: A Practical Overview

June 13, 2019 at 8:00 AM

  

When managing cellular networks with multiple base stations, one of the toughest challenges for operators is mitigating inter-cell interference. As 5G implementation ramps up, this will become increasingly important as service providers look to strengthen networks to increase capacity.

 

To successfully densify, base stations must be able to reuse frequencies within their cellular clusters. This means that operators will need to have firm control over the radiation pattern of each antenna, as radiation sprawl will result in electromagnetic interference and poor quality communications.

 

One of the best ways to stop radiation sprawl is downtilt – a process that directs the antenna’s vertical pattern towards the ground. Downtilt can be accomplished by using these two methods:

 

Mechanical Downtilt:

This is the fastest and easiest way to control an antenna’s pattern. It involves physically adjusting the pole-mounting brackets of an antenna by using a digital level against the back of the antenna for an accurate measurement. The downside of this method is that it will create an effect called pattern blooming, which reduces the signal more at bore sight and less at angles away from bore sight.

 

Electrical Downtilt:

Another way to change an antenna’s radiation pattern is by introducing an electrical phase taper inside of a sector antenna array. Electrical downtilt allows for a uniform reduction in coverage, preventing pattern blooming from happening. There are three types of antennas electrical downtilt antennas: fixed, variable and manual. The values of fixed electrical downtilt antennas cannot be changed after design and factor in the antenna’s elevation beamwidth along with other deployment dynamics. Antennas with variable electrical downtilt can be changed remotely. Manual electrical downtilt antennas are set with a tuning knob during installation, or they can be adjusted by a second tower climb if needed. While electrical downtilt prevents pattern blooming, variable and manual electrical downtilt antennas are usually more expensive and reduce antenna gain.

 

To check out our extensive line of antennas, click here.

 

Embedded Antennas and the IoT

May 2, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

In the not so distant future, the world will be fully automated with machines being able to communicate with little or no interaction from humans, thanks to the arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the use of embedded antennas.

 

These small form factor antennas are a perfect fit for the shrinking size of IoT devices, while still being able to keep up with the massive amounts of data that will need to be transmitted as the IoT connects physical devices with software based management and control applications.

 

Embedded antennas are small, yet powerful antennas with many offering multiband support for use in mobile and fixed data applications. Their key performance attributes include high efficiency, low power consumption, low return loss and isolation.

 

High efficiency brings better signal reception, improving the system’s ability for faster data transfer rates. Reduced power consumption allows for increased longevity. Less return loss means more power transmitted, and isolation limits the amount of crosstalk interference. Embedded antennas can work with high-frequency or low-frequency systems, some feature MIMO technology and smart antennas have been introduced that feature embedded GPS and Flash memory capabilities.

 

As IoT deployments get underway, there are more embedded antenna options to consider to take full advantage of this exciting era of automation.

 

To help you succeed with your IoT implementations, we offer a full line off-the-shelf, embedded antennas ready to ship the same-day, plus custom designed antennas to suite all of your IoT needs.

 

Case Study: Crown Castle

March 21, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

Crown Castle is a leading independent owner and operator of wireless infrastructure that also builds and leases towers, rooftops and distributed antenna systems (DAS) for wireless communication in large markets. They pride themselves on being able to provide comprehensive site deployment with state-of-the-art processes and tools.

 

As part of a wireless networking project for Disney theme parks, Crown Castle was facing the challenges of extreme heat and weather. They were in need of a UL-listed, weatherproof enclosure capable of supporting Power over Ethernet (PoE) with an integrated cooling fan.

 

Fortunately, L-com was able to deliver exactly what they needed by creating a customized, UL-listed, weatherproof equipment enclosure. The rugged, fiberglass enclosure featured multiple PoE interfaces, the ability to mount two wireless CPE devices and it was able to be locked for added security.

 

In the end, L-com was able to fulfill all of our client’s needs and this custom product helped Crown Castle offer seamless Wi-Fi access for customers and employees of Disney Parks. 

 

To read the entire case study click here.

 

802.3ca Ethernet Passive Optical Networks

January 24, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

Today, passive optical networks (PONs) are commonly used as a cost-effective way to deliver optical broadband services to many users. This technology is comprised of point-to-multipoint networks that use an optical line terminal at the central office connected to multiple optical network units placed inside the user’s home via a feeder fiber and an optical splitter. The IEEE has already standardized PONs in the 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps range, Gigabit Ethernet PON (G-PON) and 10 Gigabit Ethernet PON (10G-EPON), now it is setting its sights on standardizing 50 Gigabit Ethernet PON (50G-EPON) with the development of the 802.3ca standard.

 

The goal of 802.3ca is to support the subscriber access networks that use point-to-multipoint arrangements on optical fiber. This standard will provide specifications for physical layers that operate over one single-mode optical fiber (SMF) strand. It will support symmetric and/or asymmetric data rates in these ranges:

  

  • ·       25 Gbps in downstream and 10 or 25 Gbps in upstream (25G-EPON)
  • ·        50 Gbps in downstream and 10, 25 or 50 Gbps in upstream (50G-EPON)

 

802.3ca will also support legacy PON technologies such as 10G-EPON and 10 Gigabit-capable symmetric PON (XGS-PON). Originally, 100 Gbps speeds were going to be an objective of this standard, but that was deemed to be too technically challenging, not economically feasible and not needed for 10 years, so 50 Gbps wavelengths were chosen to be a better technical solution.

 

The IEEE has begun the process of developing 802.3ca by organizing a task force with the mission of determining the specific protocols for the standard. This process is currently underway and is expected to complete in the 2nd quarter of 2020. So, even though we’re a ways out, there is still much to look forward to as the 802.3ca standard evolves.

 

Readers’ Choice -Top Blog Posts of 2018

December 20, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

Our goal for this blog is to provide interesting and informative content for our readers. So we always enjoy taking a look back at the end of the year to see what the most popular posts were. To make sure you didn’t miss anything, here’s a list of the most read posts of 2018. We hope to see you back in 2019!

 

 

1.      Cat6 Cable: Shielded vs. Unshielded


Category 6 Ethernet cable is designed to provide high speed data rates, but how do you decide between shielded or unshielded? Here, we compare them side by side so you can choose which will work best for your application. Read more.

 

 

2.      10 of the Worst Cabling Nightmares

 

We pride ourselves on our commitment to provide the best connectivity solutions for our customers, helping them to manage their data centers. So it always comes as a shock when we see cabling infrastructure that is a complete nightmare. This post has some of the worst offenders we’ve seen on the web. Read more.

 

 

3.      The Advantages and Disadvantages of Shielded Ethernet Cable

 

When it comes to shielded Ethernet cable, there are pros and cons. This post takes a look at both the good and the bad to help you weigh your options. For example, shielding can offer protection from EMI/RFI but its weight and limited flexibility means it’s not ideal for every application. To help decide if shielded Ethernet cable is right for your installation, read the post.

 

 

4.      75 Ohm vs. 50 Ohm – Coaxial Comparison

 

Ohm may sound like something you’d say while meditating, but when it comes to coaxial cables, it is actually a unit of resistance. Ohms measure the impedance within the cable. Impedance is resistance to the flow of electrical current through a circuit. To see how 75 Ohm and 50 Ohm compare, read our post.

 

 

5.      Good Vibrations: Vibration-Proof USB Connectors


Universal Serial Bus (USB) is one of the most widely used technologies to connect and power devices. One fundamental flaw of USB is its sensitivity to vibration, causing the connector to dislodge. In this post we show you some solutions to keeping your USB connected. Read more.

 

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