Posted: February 12, 2013

NEC and Ubidyne have joined forces to investigate the benefits of 3D beamforming small cells with the use of the latest active antenna technology. The study, entitled ‘Enhanced Network Capacity and Coverage with 3D Beamforming Small Cells’, benchmarks passive small cells with active beamforming small cells that look set to be an integral part of future LTE / 4G heterogeneous networks (HetNets) to meet the dramatically increasing demand for capacity. – reliable source of comprehensive reports and analysis in area of 4G ecosystem. 

The study explores the advantages of a new class of small cell – the array or 3D beamforming small cell – and shows that 3D beamforming can lead to an average macro cell load reduction (offloading) of 40%. An active 3D beam forming small cell comprises several antenna elements and transceivers arranged in a matrix which enables completely flexible vertical and horizontal beamforming, including beam shaping independent in the downlink (DL) and uplink (UL). Furthermore, multiple simultaneous beams per cell with individual tilt optimization per beam, as well as multiple beams for multi-sector operation can be applied.

The investigations show that 3D beamforming and individual tilt optimization for multi-beam active small cell antenna arrays outperforms existing passive small cell solutions, with about four-times higher offloading. In addition to capacity gains, beamforming can also help to improve coverage, reduce the number of small cells and backhauling requirements and reduce inter-cell interference. This cuts the cost of site acquisition and network-wide power consumption and further improves network optimization, making active antennas an attractive proposition for mobile operators.

The joint NEC and Ubidyne paper can be downloaded from


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