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Evolution and Trend of Mobile Communication Base Station Antennas
Apr 24, 2018

Base station antennas are developed along with network communications. Engineers design different antennas according to network requirements. Therefore, in the past generations of mobile communication technologies, antenna technology has also been evolving.

Almost all omnidirectional antennas were used in the first generation of mobile communications. At the time, there were few users and the transmission rate was low. This time it was also an analog system.

To the second generation of mobile communication technology, we entered the era of cellular. This stage of the antenna gradually evolved into a directional antenna, the general lobe width contains 60 ° and 90 ° and 120 °. Take 120° as an example, it has three sectors.

In the 1980s, antennas were mainly based on single-polarized antennas, and the concept of arrays has begun to be introduced. Although the omnidirectional antenna also has an array, it is only an array in the vertical direction, and a single-polarized antenna shows plane and directional antennas. In terms of form, the current antenna is very similar to the second-generation antenna.

In 1997, dual-polarized antennas (±45° crossed dual-polarized antennas) began to take the stage. At this time, the antenna performance has been greatly improved compared to the previous generation. Whether it is 3G or 4G, the main trend is dual-polarized antennas.

In the 2.5G and 3G era, many multi-band antennas emerged. Because the system at this time is very complicated, for example, GSM, CDMA, etc. need to coexist, multi-band antenna is an inevitable trend. In order to reduce costs and space, multiple bands have become mainstream at this stage.

In 2013, we introduced the MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) antenna system for the first time. It was originally a 4x4 MIMO antenna.

MIMO technology has increased the communication capacity. At this time, the antenna system has entered a new era, that is, from the initial single antenna to the array antenna and multiple antennas.

However, now we need to turn our attention to the distance, the deployment of 5G has started, what kind of role will antenna technology play in 5G, and what impact will 5G have on antenna design? This is a problem that we need to explore.

In the past, the design of the antenna was usually very passive: after the system design was completed, the indicator was used to customize the antenna. However, the concept of 5G is still not clear. Researchers working on antenna designs need to be prepared in advance to provide solutions for 5G communication systems and even influence the 5G standard customization and development through new antenna solutions or technologies.

From the past few years and the experience of cooperation and exchange of mobile communication companies, there are two major trends in base station antennas in the future.

The first is from passive antennas to active antenna systems.

This means that the antenna may be intelligent, miniaturized (co-designed), and customized.

Because the future network will become more and more detailed, we need to customize the design according to the surrounding scenes. For example, in the urban area, the deployment will be more elaborate, rather than simply covering. 5G communication will use high frequency band, obstacles will have a great influence on communication, and customized antenna can provide better network quality.

The second trend is the systematization and complication of antenna design.

For example, beam arrays (realizing space division multiplexing), multiple beams, and multiple/high frequency bands. All of these put forward high requirements on the antenna. It will involve the entire system and compatibility issues. In this case, the antenna technology has gone beyond the concept of components and gradually entered the system design.

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