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Changing Wireless Networks from 2x2 MIMO to 4x2 MIMO

Apr 12, 2016

As we see consumers drive usage even higher, so too are we seeing the demands for wireless data. Therefore, with limitations on capital and operating budgets, the challenge today is to efficiently utilize existing assets.

In a recent paper by Mohamed Hamdy, he wrote about one specific option available to network operators, and that is - adding more sectors at macro sites by using multibeam antennas. His "Multibeam Antennas Planning - Limitations and Solutions" white paper considers both technical challenges and possible solutions to deploying multibeam antenna.

Multibeam antennas can increase the capacity of a site by reconfiguring a 3-sector site to between 4 and 6 sectors. It is in certain high-traffic areas where we see these "higher orders of sectorization", and in some specific cases we see the deployment of more than six sectors.

About MIMO.

MIMO, which stands for multiple input/ multiple output, is another effective technique used by wireless operators to add capacity. We already see MIMO systems in place for LTE networks. 2x2 MIMO can be described as two data streams for transmit and receive pathways, while four streams is 4x4 MIMO.

The Move to 4-Way Receive.

Today we're seeing operators begin the move to the next level of antenna configuration by moving from 2-way receive to 4-way receive. There's a huge improvement in the connection between the mobile unit and the base station with 4-way receive, with the main benefit being that a user away from the site will experience better call quality. This is particularly important for VoLTE (Voice over LTE) and other similar technologies.

With 4x2 MIMO there will be increased link capacity between the base station and the mobile and improved traffic-carrying capabilities of the RF path. Because both 4-way receive and 4x2 MIMO require the same number of antenna ports, 4-way receive configurations will help simplify the transition to 4x2 downlink MIMO. Transitioning to 4x2 MIMO may also require extra equipment to share paths and ensure the number of tower antennas are kept to a minimum.

Improving a wireless network's capacity utilizing these methods can promote spectral efficiency, without the need to add more sites. They are just one tool in the radio engineer's toolkit for continuing the work to efficiently and effectively add more data-handling capabilities.

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  • It’s been over five years since this article was published and data usage is even higher. I don’t know whether 5G is going to help or contribute to the problem. What other solutions are there besides cell phone boosters and technological tune-ups like changing from 2X2 MIMO to 4X2 MIMO?

    Vincent Simmons on
  • “Also, how do you boost cell phone signals for a wide area indoors?” First you want to find out how much space your apartment/condo/home is in terms of square feet. Then you do a site map to see what areas have weak signals or even dead zones (no signal). Once you’ve done that, you should consider getting a cell phone booster for your home. This will increase the signal you receive and strengthen it throughout your home (which is why you measure you home, to get the right size booster—be it 1,200 square feet, 1,500 square feet, or more). Check out some of the stories in the blogs here for testimonials and reviews on cell phone boosters.

    Mel Fields on
  • Dirk, I think I can answer your query, “How do you boost cell phone signals for a wide area indoors?” What you do is install a cell phone booster. It’s a device that boosts the cell phone signal being sent from a cell phone tower. It will give your phone the power you expect so you can have clear calls, quick data downloads (and uploads), and virtually eliminate dropped calls. Keep in mind you have to have some sort of signal to begin with. If you’re so far away from a cell phone tower you don’t get a signal, the booster can’t boost what’s not there. You can also buy different size boosters for different area homes.

    Ed Franklin on
  • Does this new system double capacity since you’re going from 2X2 to 4×2? Also, how do you boost cell phone signals for a wide area indoors?

    Dirk Edwards on
  • It sounds like there’s a lot involved with some of these setups. I know improving your cell phone signal is sometimes as easy as mapping your home or adding a cell phone booster to it. When it comes to businesses, I know you can get cell phone boosters to boost your signals in the workplace, whether it’s small or large. I’ve also read about the things mentioned here, DAS installations to run fiber through a facility to increase data speeds, call quality, etc. It depends on your needs, but when it’s something complicated, talk to a pro is what I would do.

    Sid Kelvin on
  • It sounds like there are many variables in optimizing network operations. That’s why DAS installations sound they should only be handled by a professional installer. Between DAS designs and installations, you want someone who is up to date on the latest technology and procedures for making your installation run smoothly.

    Ross McDaniel on

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