A unique new device that enables mobile operators to improve network coverage without moving an inch has been announced by international infrastructure solutions provider Alan Dick.
Remote-controlled actuators optimise base station antenna beam patterns to boost signal strength, under precision software control from a network control centre possibly hundreds of miles or kilometres distant.
Offered for immediate delivery and installation, the actuator mechanisms can recover their costs in as little as 12 months and by improving coverage dramatically, will increase operator revenues and reduce subscriber churn.
"The antennas move but your technical staff don't! That's the beauty of our Remote Electrical Tilt solution," stated David King, Group Marketing Manager, of international communication infrastructure solutions provider Alan Dick, based in Cheltenham, England. "At the touch of a button, cellular base station antennas can be realigned and coverage optimised in an instant - day or night, rain or shine. No site visits, no callouts, no fuel bills, no vehicle mileage, no climbing, no risk. It's all gain and no pain when you deploy Remote Electrical Tilt."
Unique to Alan Dick's product is an ingenious mechanism that as well as altering the direction of tilt, drives a 'Trombone' phase shifter to adapt the antenna's performance in line with the changed electrical characteristics. By optimising power transfer from transmitter to antenna, overall efficiency is increased.
Just as a searchlight can be focussed and directed to illuminate a precise field of view, remote controlled actuators can similarly vary the angle of tilt for cellular antennas. Coverage can be tailored to maximise capacity where required and minimise overlap into adjoining cellsite areas. This is a particular blessing for the new Third Generation network operators, for whom accurate handoff between cells and hence minimal overlap were critical. By optimising coverage pattern, operators can concentrate radio field strength where it is needed, reducing the risk of dropped calls (and user annoyance) to maximise income (and user loyalty).
"The benefits don't end there either," added Mr King. "Innovative operators can now reconfigure their networks dynamically, for instance directing maximum power into a football stadium while an international match is being played there. Coverage can also be optimised in business areas during the daytime but into nearby residential districts at night. Widespread introduction of additional new picocells would require realignment of existing antennas and many visits to the base stations affected - but not if they have been equipped for remote tilting. Our calculations indicate that direct savings will produce payback within 12 to 24 months."
Although launched now for worldwide sale, Alan Dick's product is a proven solution, having been evaluated by European network operators for a number of months. Genuinely future-proof, it can be retrofitted to existing Alan Dick installations and all control commands conform to agreed industry-standard protocols.
Concluded Mr King, "From now on network operators will find it much easier to ensure their antennas deliver the coverage that their planning software predicted. Fitting - or retrofitting - Remote Electrical Tilt ensures the evolutionary path is always clear towards an improved RF architecture, greater profitability and total customer satisfaction."
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[510 words - issued Dec-03]
Notes to editors:
· Cellular base station antennas beam radio signals more or less horizontally, rather like a lighthouse beams light. If directed at the horizon, the signal is scattered thinly and much is wasted. By tilting the beam downwards by a few degrees, the signal can be concentrated to give better coverage of an area close to the transmitter.
· Alan Dick, founded in 1971, is a world-leading organisation spanning 5 continents. Its unique service provides comprehensive infrastructure solutions for broadcasters, telecoms providers, cellular network operators, plus aeronautical and military users. Its ability to plan, develop, manufacture, deploy and manage these communication networks won the company The Queen's Award for Enterprise for the third time in April 2003.
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