A September 2013 report by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) confirmed that LTE is the fastest developing mobile system technology ever. To date, 213 networks have been commercially launched globally, with 113 launched in the past year alone. Six African countries already have commercial LTE networks in place and deployments in Africa are expected to continue to keep pace with the global trend.
With more LTE deployments in Africa being planned every day, it is important for operators to optimize their launch strategy to capitalize on the benefits LTE offers today and over the long term. By integrating innovative network enablers, operators can improve their time-to-market and time-to-revenue with LTE, while also ensuring they continue to receive a high return on investment long after deployment is complete.
Limited Cell Site Space Creates Challenges
Some of the biggest challenges operators in Africa face are associated with ensuring base stations can support a variety of networks and frequencies. In most areas, there are restrictions on the number of cell towers that can be deployed and where they can be located. Often, operators must share space on existing towers and engineer their networks to deal with space limitations, RF interference, and the challenges imposed by weight and wind load allowances.
Sr VP Sales & Marketing, EMEA & Global Accounts, RFS
Come and visit RFS on our booth E03C, Hall 3
|Rémi Deniel, Sales Director for Africa, RFS|
Come and visit RFS on our booth E03C, Hall 3
Future requirements must also be considered. The time, cost and risk associated with antenna site evolution can negatively impact an operator’s bottom line because replacing or adding antennas to accommodate different technologies or frequencies delays time-to-market, can increase costs and can lead to difficult negotiations for limited tower space. This is of particular concern for operators in Africa who may want to take advantage of frequencies down to 1800 MHz upon initial deployment, but may eventually want to use 700 MHz or 800 MHz frequencies to achieve specific market objectives.
Multiband Antennas Reduce Tower Weight and Wind Load
RFS believes that one of the best ways to address these challenges is to streamline base station operations with high performance wireless infrastructure products that can be readily adapted to meet any requirement.
RFS multiband antennas are engineered to help operators reduce tower and wind load and the environmental visual impact of multiple antennas on a single tower. These antennas are engineered to optimize base station performance for LTE by reducing the total number of visible antennas from two — and sometimes three or four — to just one. This is achieved by co-locating multiple cross-polarized antennas within a single antenna-sized radome for multiple broadband configurations (790-960MHz / 1710-2700MHz).
For maximum flexibility at a tower site, RFS also offers CompactLine® ultra-low profile microwave antennas. These antennas are engineered to provide high performance in a light, compact, easy-to-deploy and install package. They are available in single- and dual-polarized configurations, include three wideband models, and provide best-in-class radiation patterns that reduce interference and enable easier configuration as part of a complete network deployment.
Innovative Cabling Streamlines Base Station Operations
Network cabling at a tower site is also important. RFS antennas are supported by an innovative, hybrid cabling solution engineered to streamline LTE base station operations.
HYBRIFLEX™ is a hybrid cabling solution that combines optical fiber and DC power for Remote Radio Heads (RRHs) in a single, highly flexible, lightweight aluminum corrugated cable. It is designed specifically for new RRH deployments and base station upgrades. This integrated cabling solution replaces traditional multi-cable approaches, which require additional infrastructure components, long site installation times, and difficult implementation accessories. And it provides the cabling expenditure reductions, ease-of-installation and operational efficiency mobile operators need to evolve their networks while limiting their power consumption and carbon footprint at cellular sites.
Colocation Filters Maximize System Capacity and Performance
Finally, to prevent RF interference caused by multiple antennas on a single tower, RFS offers colocation filters designed to eliminate interference before it degrades network performance.
RFS colocation filters are engineered to maintain appropriate isolation for colocated base stations and remove unwanted carrier frequencies. They provide operators in Africa with flexible site acquisition options for any LTE deployment.
Innovation Delivers Long Term Benefits
Investing in LTE is a major undertaking for any operator. With all deployments, the performance and efficiency of the network infrastructure are the keys to success. Regardless of the combination of antennas, cabling, and filters required, the elements that enable the network have to work properly the first time. Therefore, it is important that operators integrate innovative products that can deliver the quality and capacity to service the most demanding subscriber base.
With the right infrastructure elements, operators in Africa can quickly develop custom-tailored deployment solutions that meet immediate requirements. They can get to market with viable services sooner and rest assured that they will continue to capitalize on the unique benefits LTE offers for years to come.
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