By Benoît Bled, Radio Frequency Systems (RFS)
When designing a network backhaul, the finest technology is considered for the active components, while the importance of passive components – such as the antenna – is often taken for granted. The antenna has been regularly seen as a cost-saving component where concessions can be made on quality. However, it is unrealistic and can be detrimental to the outcome to consider every antenna as similar in terms of quality and performance.
Mobile network operators often rely solely on data sheets to choose the appropriate microwave antenna for network backhauling. On the surface this may look like a legitimate means of selection but, in actuality, it is not. There are various suppliers offering similar antennas at extremely low prices, but these antennas often fail to meet the desired quality and performance standards claimed in the data sheets. Numerous factors affect microwave antenna performance in the long run that, more often than not, are overlooked in the selection process.
This paper describes the effects of various quality variables on microwave antenna performance, and provides insight into the long-term consequences of using a low-cost/ poor-quality antenna. It is intended to help move the industry forward by demonstrating the effect of operators’ preference for low-cost antennas without considering the total cost of ownership and possible ill effects on their quality of service.