Understanding Cable And Antenna AnalysisSource: Anritsu Company
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. The purpose of this article is to cover the fundamentals of the key measurements of cable and antenna analysis: return loss, cable loss, and distance-to-fault (DTF).
Frequency Domain Reflectrometry
Most modern analyzers used today to characterize the antenna system use the Frequency Domain Reflectrometry (FDR) technology. This technology uses RF frequencies to analyze the data, providing the ability to locate changes and degradations at the frequency of operation. Analyzing the data in the frequency domain enable users to find small degradations or changes in the system and thus can prevent severe system failures. Another major benefit of analyzing the system using RF sweeps is that antennas are tested at their correct operating frequency and the signal will go through frequency selective devices such as filters, quarterwave lightning arrestors, or duplexers which are common to cellular antenna systems.
The main advantage of using FDR based technologies vs. Time Domain Reflectrometry (TDR) is that the source energy in the operating band is much greater. This then results in better sensitivity, improved likelihood of finding small problems before they become major problems.
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