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Base Station Testing

Poor network reliability, perceived or real, is a primary reason subscribers leave a network, also known in the industry as “churn”. Key performance indicators (KPI) such as blocked or dropped calls and data sessions or low data throughput are monitored and are identified by network operators as the main reasons customers churn. Additionally, operators are having to overcome the multiple challenges of co-siting new LTE-A 4G technology with legacy 3G and 2G infrastructure, new base station types such as remote radio heads (RRH) using the optical CPRI interface for fronthaul, advanced MIMO transmission techniques, providing reliable in-building coverage using distributed antenna systems (DAS), increasing passive intermodulation (PIM) and interference levels and sometimes periodic mandatory regulatory testing, all while keeping installation, maintenance and optimization costs under control.

Cable and Antenna Systems

The cable and antenna system plays a crucial role of the overall performance of a Base Station system. Degradations and failures in the antenna system may cause poor voice quality or dropped calls. From a carrier standpoint, this could eventually result in loss of revenue.

While a problematic base station can be replaced, a cable and antenna system is not so easy to replace. It is the role of the field technician to troubleshoot the cable and antenna system and ensure that the overall health of the communication system is performing as expected. Field technicians today rely on portable cable and antenna analyzers to analyze, troubleshoot, characterize, and maintain the system.

C-RAN and Fronthaul

The rapid spread of smartphones and tablets together with many new Cloud services in the last decade have led to explosive growth in mobile data traffic. Operators are supporting mobile data traffic growth by increasing the bandwidth of mobile communications networks. This has been an important driver for a complete change in mobile communications systems with the adoption of the Centralized-Radio Access Networks (C-RAN), sometimes called Cloud-Radio Access Networks. Another important driver for operators has been reducing network running costs.

Backhaul

The first mobile communications backhaul was based on TDM technology (SDH/SONET and PDH) but quickly migrated to Ethernet-based packet-switched networks due to simplicity and relatively low costs. However, the asynchronous nature of Ethernet is a challenge because mobile networks require frequency synchronization across the entire network. Although TDM technology has a built-in physical layer supporting frequency synchronization, Ethernet has replaced TDM in mobile backhaul by using Synchronous Ethernet technology, which applies synchronization to Ethernet-based networks.

Baseband unit (BBU)

Traditional cell sites consisted of a ground-based radio connected to tower-mounted antennas by a long run of coaxial cable which has high loss and is vulnerable to interference. This has negative impacts on maintenance costs as equipment ages and also on system performance.

To answer the need for more throughput at lower cost, wireless network providers have moved to using a remote radio head (RRH) where the radio equipment is connected to the baseband unit (BBU) by a fiber optic cable. This provides a new level of flexibility in how the cell site is deployed, including siting the RRH at the masthead (for low RF losses) or locating the BBU at a remote location (for improved operational efficiencies).

CPRI Solutions

A flexible interface between the BBU (baseband unit) and RRH (remote radio head) is necessary to accommodate today’s new architecture. Many high speed serial communication standards are available, but without modification, none offer the high throughput, low latency and features required to support these cell site architectures.

New interface standards have been developed to support these new cell site architectures. The two interfaces that lead this charge are the Open Base Station Architecture Initiative (OBSAI) and Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI). OBSAI is the more complex of the two to implement and CPRI technology is now used in the majority of new installations. CPRI pushes the complexity into the higher layers of the system so a connection between the BBU and the RRH can be established with minimal configuration. CPRI has become the more common standard, allowing manufacturers to tailor the interface to their own requirements. The high throughput potential of later CPRI releases enables providers to futureproof their rollouts.

Return Loss on Base Station Coverage

When designing and building cellular infrastructure, one objective is to maximize the RF signal level seen throughout the coverage area. Assuming the noise level remains constant, higher signal levels mean faster data rates and fewer dropped calls, ultimately resulting in happier customers.

In many cases, the personnel building a cell site do not control every variable necessary to ensure strong signals. Some of the variables outside the installer’s control include transmit power levels from the radio, cable type, antenna gain and antenna height. Important variables that installers do control are losses in the cable feed system due to reflections and absorption. As we all know, minimizing these losses will improve the quality of the system. But, there are points of diminishing return. Sometimes “better” may provide very little practical benefit to customers. In times where operators are seeking sensible ways to reduce installation costs, knowing when to stop chasing that last decibel is important to understand.

In Building Wireless

The purpose of an in-building wireless (IBW) system is to provide enhanced network coverage and/or capacity when the existing macro network is not able to adequately service the demand. Coverage may be poor due to high penetration losses caused by the building structure or due to low emissivity glass installed to improve the thermal performance of the building. In dense urban environments, adjacent buildings may create an RF barrier that blocks coverage from nearby macro sites. Tall buildings typically have poor coverage on upper floors since macro site antennas, many floors below, are specifically designed to suppress energy radiating above the horizon. Capacity may be an issue in venues such as stadiums, coliseums and convention centers where many thousands of users may be trying to simultaneously access the network.

DAS Systems and SkyBridge Tools

The need for documentation of antenna systems is increasing. A typical tower based antenna system might require 50 to 150 measurements, traces, and photos to show that the installation meets quality standards. A DAS, also known as an In-building or Outside Antenna System, may require 1,000 to 15,000 traces, photos, and other deliverables to show that the installation meets performance standards. Each of these deliverables needs to be inspected, renamed, and perhaps have the markers and limit lines set and judged. The manual inspection system that worked well enough for tower work does not scale well for the much larger DAS systems.

SkyBridge Tools enables reliable and quick creation of test plans, enables fast and accurate testing, and assists in report creation. This leads to less time testing, accurate tests, and reliable payment for work done.


Wireless Glossary and Dictionary

The wireless industry is constantly evolving, and so are the words and terms we use to describe its technology. Whether you’re describing the difference between W-CDMA, CDMA and TD-SCDMA… explaining applications such as line sweeping, DTF measurements or vector signal analysis as they apply to GSM, HSPDA or WiMAX… or simply looking up a term that’s new to you… Anritsu's Wireless Base Station Glossary is the place to start.

0-9 | A-B | C-D | E-G | H-M | N-R | S-Z


Base Station Industry Associations

Your community of base station and RF wireless professionals.

Speed your RF wireless network deployment or solve problems by using the experience of others working with base station testing and analysis. Use these links to connect with industry standards groups as well as Anritsu’s own Master User Group.

Base Station Industry Associations

Products

Cell Master MT8212E

MT8212E

Base Station Analyzer
2 MHz - 4 GHz VNA frequency
100 kHz - 4 GHz SPA frequency

Cell Master MT8213E

MT8213E

Base Station Analyzer
2 MHz - 6 GHz VNA frequency
100 kHz - 6 GHz SPA frequency

BTS Master MT8820T

MT8220T

Base Station Analyzer
400 MHz - 6 GHz VNA frequency
150 kHz - 7.1 GHz SPA frequency

Spectrum Master Handheld Spectrum Analyzer MS2712E

MS2712E

Handheld Spectrum Analyzer
9 kHz - 4 GHz frequency
1 Hz - 3 MHz resolution bandwidth

Spectrum Master Handheld Spectrum Analyzer MS2713E

MS2713E

Handheld Spectrum Analyzer
9 kHz - 6 GHz frequency
1 Hz - 3 MHz resolution bandwidth

Handheld Spectrum Analyzer MS2720T

MS2720T

Handheld Spectrum Analyzer
9 kHz - 9 GHz, 13 GHz, 20 GHz,
32 GHz, 43 GHz frequency

Network Master Pro MT1000A

MT1000A

Network Master™ Pro
10G Multirate Module
All-in-one Portable System

Network Master MT9090A

MT9090A

Network Master™
Several modules available
Rugged, lightweight and compact

LMR Master Land Mobile Radio Modulation Analyzer S412E

S412E

Land Mobile Radio
500 kHz - 1.6 GHz VNA frequency
9 kHz - 1.6 GHz SPA frequency

S331P

Cable and Antenna Analyzer
150 kHz - 4 GHz, 6 GHz freq
Ultraportable

Site Master Cable & Antenna Analyzer + Spectrum Analyzer S331L

S331L

Site Master™ Handheld Cable & Antenna Analyzer

Site Master Compact Handheld Cable and Antenna Analyzer S331E

S331E

Cable and Antenna Analyzer
2 MHz - 4 GHz VNA frequency
2 port measurements

Site Master Cable & Antenna Analyzer + Spectrum Analyzer S332E

S332E

Cable and Antenna Analyzer
2 MHz - 4 GHz VNA frequency
100 kHz - 4 GHz SPA frequency

Site Master Handheld Cable & Antenna Analyzer S361E

S361E

Cable and Antenna Analyzer
2 MHz - 6 GHz VNA frequency
2 port measurements

Site Master Cable & Antenna Analyzer + Spectrum Analyzer S362E

S362E

Cable and Antenna Analyzer
2 MHz - 6 GHz VNA frequency
100 kHz - 6 GHz SPA frequency

MA24507A

Power Master
9 kHz - 70 GHz frequency
V (male) connector

Inline Peak Power Sensor MA24105A

MA24105A

350 MHz — 4 GHz

MA24350A Microwave CW USB Power Sensor

MA24350A

Microwave CW USB Power Sensor
10 MHz - 40 GHz frequency
-70 dBm to +20 dBm Dynamic Range

 MA24340A Microwave CW USB Power Sensor

MA24340A

Microwave CW USB Power Sensor
10 MHz - 40 GHz frequency
K (male) connector

MA24330A Microwave CW USB Power Sensor

MA24330A

Microwave CW USB Power Sensor
10 MHz - 33 GHz frequency
K (male) connector

Microwave USB Power Sensor MA24126A

MA24126A

Microwave USB Power Sensor
10 MHz - 26 GHz frequency
True RMS Measurements

Microwave USB Power Sensor MA24218A

MA24218A

Microwave Universal USB Power Sensor
10 MHz - 18 GHz frequency
True RMS Measurements

Microwave USB Power Sensor MA24208A

MA24208A

Microwave Universal USB Power Sensor
10 MHz - 8 GHz frequency
True RMS Measurements

MA24106A USB Power Sensors

MA24106A

USB Power Sensor (Average) - 50 MHz to 6 GHz

High Accuracy Power Sensor (Average) PSN50

PSN50

High Accuracy Power Sensor (Average) - 50 MHz to 6 GHz

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