Today’s base station antennas now offer a complex portfolio of features such as multi-band, multi-port, multi-beam, active antennas, hybrid active passive configurations in MIMO (Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) and massive MIMO types. This increasing complexity is compounded by space constraints on the macro base station towers themselves.
In developed markets, mobile operators report 30% of macro cell sites only have access to a single antenna mount, while 40% of cell sites only have access to two antenna mounts. As mobile operators acquire additional spectrum, existing antennas need to adopt these additional antenna technologies while simultaneously offering more compact antenna form factors.
Mobile network operators (MNOs) design networks for 5 nines (99.999%) availability or only 5 minutes per year downtime. Because base station antennas are located outdoors often in remote, difficult to access locations or in harsh environments the antenna must be designed to withstand wind loads and be compatible with the climate and weather conditions for the location. In general, base station antennas are subject to enormous stress from the weather and the environment in general.
ABI Research’s 5G Antenna Innovations report offers an in-depth discussion of these trends.