NASHVILLE – It’s no surprise that there are a lot of changes going on in the wireless industry right now, but some more than others go unseen. At TESSCO’s One show, experts from CommScope shared just how these shifts are changing macro cell sites by adding both weight and wires.
As explained by CommScope’s Chris Stockman and Dale Heath, the push from legacy technologies to 4G meant the addition of more equipment to towers, piling in some cases up to 1,000 pounds on to structures built in a 2G world to hold 250 pounds. As the industry pushes toward 5G, Heath said the number of radios and antennas on these towers will only increase. While technology now allows for smaller and smaller form factors, he noted that just means operators will want to shove two radios where only one used to fit.
So far, Heath shared, the industry has applied band-aid fixes to alleviate this problem in the form of tower supports. But those won’t cut it down the line. New designs, both in the air and on the ground, will be necessary.
Currently, Heath said CommScope partners are looking at tower designs that can stand as tall as 400 feet in the air and hold up against up to two inches of ice and winds of up to 180 miles per hour.
“What we’re building for is a loading that is exceeding a lot of demands,” Heath said. “Right now we’re seeing they want to look at 400 feet in the air. Even though they’re not going there, they want the mount to be designed for that so they get the extra added capacity.”
Heath noted some of these requested tower elements are also included in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Association’s forthcoming new standard.
But with all those new radios also come an array of wires, forcing telcos into a battle for order and security.
Despite crowding, Stockman said it’s crucial for wires to be well routed to ensure they’re both secure from things like weather and animal damage and prevent PIM, or distortion that raises the noise floor and leeches capacity from sites.
Of course there are best practices for cable routing, one of which is securing the cables with hangers every three to four feet. This, though, is complicated by a lack of regulation in cable size that has resulted in a slew of different grommets operators have to choose from. Installation of these grommets, Stockman said, is difficult and time consuming, wasting some 2000 weeks in lost productivity or around $5 million.
To solve this problem, Stockman noted CommScope has come out with a lineup of self-sizing grommet clips to fit any size cable. But Stockman said it would be useful for the industry to develop a set of standards – or adopt those suggested by CommScope – to outline safe cable management.
Changes are also underway on the ground, Heath added, as operators move away from shelters toward cabinets. And even in that change, the industry is shifting from concrete-based structures to platforms that offer flexibility in relocation, and reductions in cost and installation time.
TESSCO One heads into Day 2 today – be sure to follow @WirelessWeek on Twitter for live updates from the show.
Filed Under: Infrastructure