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Electrical and Mechanical Downtilt Effect on Pattern Performance

Electrical and Mechanical Downtilt Effect on Pattern Performance

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Published by: ptt3i on Nov 09, 2012
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05/13/2014

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Visit our Web site at www.commscope.com/andrew or contact your local Andrew Solutions representative for more information.
© 2010 CommScope, Inc. All rights reserved. Andrew Solutions is a trademark of CommScope. All trademarks identified by ® or ™ are registered trademarks or trademarks, respectively, of CommScope. This document is for planning purposes only and is not intended to modify or supplement any specifications or warranties relatingto Andrew products or services.WP-103755-EN (6/10) • Page 1 of 15
Electrical and Mechanical Downtilt and their Effects onHorizontal Pattern Performance
By Louis (Lou) J. Meyer, P.E.Director, Applications Engineering 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Inter-sector interference has been a problem for wireless operators ever since RF engineersdeployed the first sector array antennas. Radiation patterns that bleed outside the antenna'sdefined sector affect not only the quality of service in adjacent sectors within the same cell, butcan disrupt service in adjacent cells as well.In an attempt to confine the signal to its specific sector, operators have employed a variety of techniques, including physically downtilting the antenna. Known as mechanical downtilt, thistechnique has been effective to some degree, but has also caused additional problems.Physically downtilting the antenna occurs along a single horizontal plane. As the front of theantenna is tilted down, the back is, by default, tilted up. This limitation creates a variety of radiation pattern irregularities, such as pattern blooming, that are a major source of inter-sector interference. Even still, mechanical downtilt has become an accepted practice. To helpcompensate for the inherent limitations of mechanical downtilt, the industry has developed certaingeneral guidelines.The introduction of electrically downtilted antennas gave network operators greater flexibility intilting the antenna beam and manipulating the radiation pattern. The electrically downtiltedantenna enables the operator to tilt the antenna pattern along an infinite number of angles, ineffect, creating a three-dimensional “cone of coverage.” As a result, electrical downtilt allows theoperator greater freedom in shaping the antenna's horizontal radiation pattern to minimize inter-sector interference and maximize quality of service within the specified sector.The use of electrically downtilted antennas has increased significantly since the technology wasfirst introduced. RF engineers, however, continue to apply the same basic guidelines initiallydeveloped to help compensate for the limitations of mechanical downtilt antennas. Additionally, many operators have begun to use mechanical downtilt in tandem with electricaldowntilt. While combining the two methods can be effective in very limited applications, datasuggests that overall this practice leads to horizontal pattern deformations that can altogether offset the benefits of electrical downtilt.This paper has been developed in order to demonstrate the horizontal pattern-shaping abilities of sector array antennas using electrical versus mechanical downtilt. Specifically, it illustrates howelectrical downtilt can be used to minimize interference in the horizontal plane by systematicallylowering gain — at boresite, 180° behind boresite, and at ±90° to boresite. Additionally, this paper seeks to quantify the negative effects of attempting to combine the two technologies.It also provides a revised and improved guideline for antennas using electric downtilt in order tohelp operators reduce horizontal pattern irregularities such as pattern blooming, beam squint andfront-to-back ratios to acceptable levels.
 
 
Visit our Web site at www.commscope.com/andrew or contact your local Andrew Solutions representative for more information.
© 2010 CommScope, Inc. All rights reserved. Andrew Solutions is a trademark of CommScope. All trademarks identified by ® or ™ are registered trademarks or trademarks, respectively, of CommScope. This document is for planning purposes only and is not intended to modify or supplement any specifications or warranties relatingto Andrew products or services.WP-103755-EN (6/10) • Page 2 of 15
SECTORIZATION AND INTRA-CELL INTERFERENCE
 A key driver in the design of RF networks is the continual need to create greater and greater network capacity. Since the development of the early omnidirectional antennas, engineers haverelied upon frequency re-use within the same system in order to generate more capacity.The introduction of the sector array antenna enabled engineers to employ frequency re-use to aneven greater degree and realize higher capacity within a given cell. While the upside has beenincreased cell capacity, the downside is that sectorized antenna systems can create a greater degree of intra-cell interference.In a typical three-sector array, three antennas, each with a 65° horizontal beamwidth, cover thearea around the tower and some defined distance towards the horizon. Theoretically, eachantenna should cover the exact pie-shaped area defined by its sector, and only that area.Practically, that is not the case. Because of the need to provide total sector coverage and ensureconsistent high-speed hand-offs, the patterns of adjacent sectors must overlap. The overlaptypically occurs at –10 dB from maximum gain. More overlap than this, –6 dB for example, cancreate significant interference that degrades the quality of service and reduces cell capacity.Today's high-speed data and video-driven networks are highly sensitive to any signal disruption. Antenna designers are constantly in search of techniques to help them achieve total sector coverage with a minimum of sector overlap. Of these techniques, downtilting the antenna hasproven the most cost-effect and, as a result, is among the most frequently used.
Note: Throughout this paper, any discussion of antenna patterns is meant to apply to the antenna's 
horizontal pattern 
only.
MECHANICAL DOWNTILT AND ITS AFFECTSON PATTERN PERFORMANCE
Until recently, the accepted method for downtilting anantenna was to mechanically alter its position on thetower. But as shown by the yellow shading in Figure 1,the antenna represents a fixed unit capable of tiltingalong one plane only. As the front tilts down to lower thegain on the horizon, the back tilts up, changing the front-to-back ratio and increasing inter-sector interference.
Figure 1: Articulation of a mechanically downtilted antenna along the horizontal plane 
One of the specific results created by the limitations of mechanicaldowntilt is known as pattern blooming, illustrated in Figure 2. Thedegrees of mechanical downtilt are indicated by the varying shades in Figure 2. The outermostpattern represents a mechanically downtiled antenna with 0º of downtilt. The change in patternshading represents what happens as the antenna is mechanically downtilted – 4º, 6º, 8º, and 10º.
 
 
Visit our Web site at www.commscope.com/andrew or contact your local Andrew Solutions representative for more information.
© 2010 CommScope, Inc. All rights reserved. Andrew Solutions is a trademark of CommScope. All trademarks identified by ® or ™ are registered trademarks or trademarks, respectively, of CommScope. This document is for planning purposes only and is not intended to modify or supplement any specifications or warranties relatingto Andrew products or services.WP-103755-EN (6/10) • Page 3 of 15
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Figure 2: Pattern blooming as a result of mechanical downtilt 
 At 0º downtilt, and even at 4º, the pattern is relatively uniform. But notice what happens as theantenna is mechanically downtilted further. The 3 dB beamwidth begins to flatten out. At 8º of mechanical downtilt, the 3 dB beamwidth continues to grow wider, well beyond the 65º pattern for which it was intended. At 10º mechanical downtilt, the pattern is grossly distorted. All thesepattern deformities represent varying degrees of a phenomenon known as pattern blooming.Realizing that mechanical downtilt creates pattern distortion, the industry attempted to define howmuch pattern blooming was acceptable. A 10% pattern bloom, defined as a 10% increase in therated azimuth pattern of a particular antenna, became the recommended maximum for this typeof horizontal pattern distortion. It was well documented that the typical 65º azimuth antenna, at 0ºmechanical downtilt, exhibits about a 10 dB reduction in crossover gain. Therefore, this 10 dBreduction in gain has become the de facto specification for most modulation schemes in highcapacity areas.To help designers determine how much mechanical downtilt could be employed without creatingmore than 10% pattern blooming, engineers developed a rough rule of thumb through studiesusing vertically polarized (V-Pol) antennas. The guideline recommended that mechanical downtiltof an antenna should not exceed more than one-half of its vertical beamwidth. While new antennatechnologies have continued to develop, this guideline has seen no change since its inception.Recent studies involving cross-polarized (X-Pol) antennas along with more accurate andsophisticated range measurement equipment have both improved the former rule of thumb andshown that additional performance parameters can also be degraded by aggressive mechanicaldowntilting.

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