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Question about towers

Discussion in 'Sprint Forum' started by ace41690, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. ace41690

    ace41690 Junior Member
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    So i was just wondering, with sprint adding Wimax or sometimes iden service to their towers, they are removing cdma antennas right? Doesnt this hurt the performance of cdma service (since antennasa are being replaced)?
     
  2. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    They are not changing the CDMA configuration in any way. The CDMA cell sites only need one panel per sector to function. With the older technology they would often use 4 panels per sector. That is no longer necessary and all newer installations use either 2 panels per sector or one panel per sector. So they can remove old or redundant CDMA panels and replace them with whatever they want to.

    Sprint is not adding WiMax to any CDMA sites as far as I know. They are adding WiMax to Nextel iDen sites because they have more room for the equipment and have enclosed equipment bunkers which is necessary to house the WiMax equipment. There haven't been a lot of WiMax installations as of yet except in a few early test markets

    It is also somewhat rare for Sprint to put iDen on an exisiting CDMA site. It does happen but not nearly as often as the other way around.

    Most of the Nextel iDen towers have non-functioning dummy panels that can be removed and replaced with CDMA or WiMax without affecting the iDen signal in any way.
     
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  3. ace41690

    ace41690 Junior Member
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    So having more panels does not equal more capacity?
     
  4. TelcomJunkie

    TelcomJunkie Bad Handoff Investigator
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    Typically for Sprint, CDMA panels that are currently being used are not being removed unless the previous capacity needs are no longer there. I'll detail more in my additions to what Larry said.

    Most of the carriers utilize a diversity receive system to assist in hearing the mobile phone. In a typical, older Sprint setup you'd see four antennas, two of which transmitted AND received, and two that were receive only. As technology progressed, Sprint was able to aggregate more calls on to a single transmit antenna which is now allowing them to remove the unused panels and deploy WiMax antennas there, though for now it's rare to see WiMax panels at an outdoor CDMA site.
    When Motorola designed the iDEN system many, many moons ago, it was designed as a two-way radio system and it was intended to be dropped into existing commercial communications structures which are climate controlled. As such, when Nextel and other SMR companies started quickly expanding their networks they were forced to buy cumbersome outdoor enclosures, deploy a telecommunications shelter or improve an existing location in an office/industrial building. Luckily, the SMR companies (Remember, Nextel didn't build all of the infrastructure they now occupy, while they deployed the iDEN system, in a lot of areas they bought out local trunked radios systems and converted both the sites and customers to iDEN) were forward thinking enough to deploy shelters and use tenant improvements for most of the network which left plenty of room for future upgrades and has been heavily used since the Sprint Nextel merger to deploy CDMA and now WiMax.

    Larry is spot on and it's because of two main motivators, money and capacity. To deploy external enclosures for iDEN or WiMax is very expensive versus simply installing a CDMA rack inside the iDEN shelters. As for the antennas, being that the antennas are existing, provided the new ones are roughly the same size then Sprint doesn't have to go through any zoning changes to swap out the panels, combine that with the drastically lower iDEN traffic and they are able to remove at least one iDEN panel to install a CDMA or WiMax one. For most carriers it's not unusual to get zoning for four or six antennas even though you'll only use two. Placing unused antennas or dummy ones is much cheaper than attempting to go through zoning if and when you need that space.

    Traditionally iDEN utilizes three antennas in a diversity form, much like CDMA, but in many cases when traffic was up all three antennas were transmitting and receiving. Usually the fourth was a spare, but in some situations was used where capacity was needed to transmit and receive.
     
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  5. TelcomJunkie

    TelcomJunkie Bad Handoff Investigator
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    Not always, some carriers use a panel or two for different technologies, such as one for CDMA and one for EVDO. Typically Sprint combines all services on to two vertically polarized antennas, or one dual-polarized antennas when space is a concern. With the average Sprint site, a single antenna could be handling upwards of 400 calls at one time.
     
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  6. Bill Clinton

    Bill Clinton 10 years scandal free....
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    Very informative thread.

    I don't think Sprint would do anything that would hurt the performance of the CDMA system.

    From what i have observed, one antenna per sector is often able to handle EV-DO and call volume for Sprint. In cities sometimes a second antenna is added. In three years I have never had a capacity issue with Sprint.

    I have observed iDEN to have 2 antennas per sector in rural areas and 3 or 4 in cities or on an interstate.
     
  7. commchf

    commchf New Member

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    There's a whole lot of misinformation being posted here. I'll clear up some of it.

    1. The number of panels you see on a tower does not = number of antennas. A panel can contain 1, 2, or 3 antennas.

    2. Sprint is not removing any antenna necessary for proper operation of a cell site. And the number of antennas per sector does not necessaryily indicate how much capacity the sector can handle. A 2 antenna sector is usually all that is needed for a CDMA site regardless of the capacity.

    3. Almost all antennas are duplexed, meaning they are capable of transmitting and receiving.

    4. iDEN sites were typically built with 3 antennas per sector. Many iDEN sites can function with 2 per sector without any performance or capacity degradation.

    5. Sprint CDMA sites were typically built with 2 antennas per sector and need both for proper performance.

    6. Wimax is being deployed in both iDEN and CDMA sites. While it is typically easier to install new technologies at iDEN sites because of the existing space it is not possible to overlay a 2.5 GHz (Wimax) network on an existing 800 MHz (iDEN) without large gaps in coverage. The CDMA sites (1.9 GHz) will be necessary to create a contiguous network.

    7. While it is true that Nextel didn't build every site and they bought out a lot of smaller operations at the beginning keep in mind that those sites equal a very small percentage of the current network. In my market Nextel bought 16 cell sites at the beginning. Today there are more than 500 on air in the same market. So to say Nextel didn't build every site is technically true but it is misleading.

    8. Carriers don't use different panels for different technologies. The use different antennas for different frequencies. CDMA and EVDO are in the same frequency band and use the same antennas.
     
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  8. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    I don't think this thread has a lot of misinformation. Maybe a few minor details that could have been clarified better but I think all of the basic need-to-know info was right on. But thanks for bringing your detailed insider information to the table as well.

    Every new Sprint installation going up today is only one physical panel per sector. At least here in So. Cal. So are you saying that counts as 2 antennas per sector because they receive and transmit from the single panel?

    Obviously we know they will need to add WiMax equipment to more than just the Nextel iDen sites for proper coverage but the WiMax equipment is supposed to be housed in enclosed bunkers (which the Sprint CDMA cell sites are typically lacking). Here in So. Cal for example not a single CDMA site has been given WiMax that I have seen.

    That may be true for Sprint but what about Verizon? Don't they use CDMA for voice in the 800 band but use EV-DO in the 1900 frequency sometimes?
     
    #8 larry, Dec 30, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  9. TelcomJunkie

    TelcomJunkie Bad Handoff Investigator
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    You're talking semantics here, for the general purposes of the tower hunters here on this board, one panel = one antenna. While many of the antennas currently being deployed by the carriers are multi-band, or dual-polarized, to the average poster that is asking questions here, they are referring to one panel. Please keep in mind the intended audience, they're in the know, but most are learning.

    I didn't see it mentioned that they were removing any antennas used for the regular operation of the site, only antennas that were no longer needed due to current radio configurations which are based on capacity needs. While the number of panels on a site isn't always directly related to the amount of capacity, it many ways it is. For most equipment manufacturers, only so much combining is allowed to maintain the designed link budgets. If a CDMA carrier is pushing eight voice carriers and two EVDO out of a cell site, it's typically not happening on two antennas if they are maintaining the typical 16 watt output per carrier. Also, what a lot of people see in the field is what is left over from the early days of Sprint at which time four antennas were required on all medium to high capacity sites as equipment limitations at the time only supported less than a quarter of the calls per carrier that they are able to achieve with the current deployments.
    Well, the antenna itself isn't duplexed but the signal into it is. Most Sprint CDMA deployments are duplexing transmit and receive onto one antenna and using the second as a diversity receive. In situations where the carrier count is higher then the second antenna will also be duplexed.
    Each market's buildout is different and where I'm at almost all iDEN sites were originally built with four antennas on each sector, provided zoning approved of it. At it's peak traffic time it wasn't unusual for high traffic iDEN sites to utilitize all three, if not four antennas to have enough channels to handle the load. Now as time has progressed and the iDEN network has seen a drastic reduction in load, the traffic is easily handled by only two out of the original four antennas. Sprint has taken advantage is this situation to remove unused panels and reusing their mounting spots for either dual-pole CDMA or dual-pole WiMax panels.

    Again, this will depend on market and build out stage. In the initial 1997 buildouts almost every Sprint PCS site was built with four panels. Over the years the network has matured and equipment capacity has improved greatly to where Sprint is able to use only two single pole antennas or one dual pole antenna on it's current builds.

    You are correct, it is happening at both CDMA and iDEN sites. On the selection list, external sites, CDMA or iDEN were the last choice as the equipment costs are higher for the outdoor sites. Most of the WiMax buildout has been using iDEN sites that are standalone shelters or tenant improvements. In places where that wasn't an option but it was determined to be a priority coverage zone, Sprint chose a CDMA site. You will also be seeing WiMax only sites as the WiMax network matures, phase one deployments of any network don't provide perfect coverage, you'll only really see major business/metro areas done first, then they'll work their way into the residential and low-volume commercial areas be covered.

    Glad to see you understand that each market is different, it all depends on the area. In my area (and most of SoCal) I'd say 30% of the current iDEN network was bought from many smaller SMR companies. Nextel's roots lie at purchasing an existing provider, converting their system and customers over to iDEN. Now Nextel greatly expanded that network since the late 90's, but the roots of that network and the core coverage like freeways mostly came from purchased companies.

    You are correct, I was mearly simplifying but it also depends on the carrier at hand. Sprint is running both on 1900mhz, in a lot of markets VzW runs voice on 800mhz and EVDO on 1900mhz, in many markets ATT was running only voice on 800mhz and their 3G/UMTS deployments were happening on 1900mhz. Each carrier does it differently and it's not unusual to see multiple different antennas on one tower, owned by one carrier and each be handling a different frequency and by design, a different technology.

    Right Larry, Sprint is using dual pole antennas, which appear as one physical panel but is two antennas on the inside. All the WiMax antennas you see getting installed are also dual pole.

    There are many CDMA sites where WiMax antennas have been installed, it's just that the ratio of CDMA to iDEN is really low. For the most part, the initial deployment was done via iDEN sites.

    Correct Larry, at least here in SoCal VzW is primarily deploying voice on 800mhz and EVDO on 1900mhz. There are areas here where EVDO has also been put on 800mhz but that seems to be a rare case and typically only in low demand areas, or areas where there are government restrictions on using 1900mhz.
     
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  10. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    I have seen some of the iDEN WiMax installations but didn't realize any were done on CDMA sites yet. I'm assuming they were able to do that without changing out panels? Does the WiMax use the same panel size and style as CDMA? The WiMax panels on the iDEN sites seem to be smaller and look a little different than the usual CDMA 1900 panels.
     
  11. ace41690

    ace41690 Junior Member
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    Another question, :)

    Can one cell site be more "powerful" than another?

    I was just i Vermont, very rural and what not. As i was traveling up there on the highway I always had either sprint or digital roam (verizon), I expected Verizon to be strong because they are 800mhz, but sprint was suprisingly strong. I could see where the towers were on the highway (they were usually very high up on a mountain) and Sprints signal was carrying VERY far and very strong(almost always 5bars), it was almost behaving like an 800mhz signal. Where I live, sprint towers dont have nearly the amount of range or seem nearly as powerful. What could they be doing in vermont that makes the signal carry so strongly? and why dont they do that where i live?!
     
  12. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    Yes the network engineers can control the power output of any site. Some sites operate at full power and others might only be at 75% or 50%. Remember that cell sites in more populated areas are usually mounted much lower and cover a smaller area due to capacity limitations.
     
  13. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    The fresh mountain air makes the radio signals more alive and vigirous ;)

    All towers radio emissions can not exceed a certain limit imposed by the FCC. Carriers may go below that if they have alot of capacity (ie: RF carriers) on the site. So if there's a low capacity site (ie: a highway site) it will (for example) have one RF carrier transmitting at full power, as opposed to say a suburban site that may have 2 RF carriers transmitting at half power each. (Or something like that. See what I mean tho?)

    So that's probably why you got a better signal on the highway. Well, that plus the highway is open area, as opposed to where you probably live there's buildings etc to attenuate the signal.
     
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  14. ace41690

    ace41690 Junior Member
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    Even in the non highway areas Verizons roam, and sometimes sprint, were very strong when I had a signal. in a couple of places when on Verizon however, I would have a full signal but calls would simply not work no matter how hard i tried. Always got "call failed". It doesnt seem like pilot polution because I've experienced that before and usually that causes the signal to fluctuate wildly. This was just a solid 5bars that refused to work. Weird.
     
  15. locust43

    locust43 New Member

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    In my area, the Sprint site closest to me has a set of cell sectors on the bottom rack, but then at the very top of the tower it has 2 panels on the pole. What is up with that?

    And hope I am not too off topic, how many calls can a Sprint PCS site typically handle at a time? And does it have a hard limit or will our voice quality degrade?
     
  16. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    How do you know that the panels on the top and bottom are both Sprint? I have never seen that situation before in my many years of tower hunting and studying.
     
  17. bonoriffic

    bonoriffic Senior Member
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    Wimax doesn't need an equipment bunker. That is one of the many advantages. Not having to own a large footprint and expensive equipment bunker is why wimax is so much more popular is less industrialized parts of the world. The AP is the size of a keg of beer, and runs fiber to the RF head. You could have the AP on the ground (and Sprint is using ground based units). Sprint is deploying Wimax in a three sector configuration and will utilize any available space (iden or cdma).

    This is the AP deployed in Chicago.
     
  18. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    Here in So. Cal Sprint originally chose the Nextel sites for WiMax because they had bunkers. Apparently the equipment is cheaper if it's the type that's not exposed to outdoor conditions.
     
  19. AnthroMatt

    AnthroMatt Big Meanie
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    All of this talk of towers has made me jealous! I wish I had a tower instead of a stupid repeater near me. Oh well, that's what I get for living in the middle of nowhere. (SARCASM).
     
  20. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    You could always move back to Gainesville and might get better coverage there. ;) :D
     
  21. TelcomJunkie

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    Money, money, money makes the world go round Larry! The primary reason, at least here in SoCal, is the sites with shelters are typically also the sites with monopoles. The monopole makes for a quicker and cheaper buildout. The other reason, really just as important as the first is that existing sites, namely IDEN in this market, were already zoned for many antennas and no hearings ($$$$) were required to do a swap of antennas.

    Just like the original CDMA and IDEN buildouts, once they get the initial footprint they'll fill in the gaps as needed.
     
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  22. commchf

    commchf New Member

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    A Sprint PCS site can be configured to handle hundreds of calls simultaneously. Most are configured to handle only a few dozen because that's all that is needed. A site that covers a football stadium will be configured for a ton of capacity, a rural highway site will not.
     
  23. commchf

    commchf New Member

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    Proximity to the cell sight is the most important factor for good coverage, if you have line of sight then the frequency almost doesn't matter. Multipath is a different story....the lower the frequency the better.
     
  24. commchf

    commchf New Member

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    I didn't see it mentioned that they were removing any antennas used for the regular operation of the site

    You didn't look hard enough, that's exactly what I was responding to.
     
  25. commchf

    commchf New Member

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    Telecom Junkie said:
    You're talking semantics here, for the general purposes of the tower hunters here on this board, one panel = one antenna.

    I wasn't directing my response to a "tower hunter" as they should know better. I was responding to a post that assumed that removing a panel meant the site had one fewer antenna and was worried about performance degradation. I was "accurate"

    Telecom Junkie said:
    While the number of panels on a site isn't always directly related to the amount of capacity, it many ways it is.

    It is rarely related to capacity, and again you can't count "panels" and assume to know number of antennas.

    Telecom Junkie said:
    Also, what a lot of people see in the field is what is left over from the early days of Sprint at which time four antennas were required on all medium to high capacity sites as equipment limitations at the time only supported less than a quarter of the calls per carrier that they are able to achieve with the current deployments.

    Our market was one of the first and we've never had a sector with more than 2 antennas. And before you assume our capacity needs understand we cover over 3 milliom pops.

    Telecom Junkie said:
    In the initial 1997 buildouts almost every Sprint PCS site was built with four panels.

    Simply not true.

    Telecom Junkie said:
    In my area (and most of SoCal) I'd say 30% of the current iDEN network was bought from many smaller SMR companies.

    The current SoCal site count is 2440. In 1995 there were less than 200 (I remember the announcement when #200 went on air) and a lot of those were built by Nextel.

    Telecom Junkie said:
    Well, the antenna itself isn't duplexed but the signal into it is.

    The antenna is in fact a duplex antenna, capable of receiving and transmitting at the same time. The "signal" going "into it" has no duplex qualities, a signal can only go in one direction.
     
  26. TelcomJunkie

    TelcomJunkie Bad Handoff Investigator
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    Right and the quote feature helps other readers know what post you are responding to.

    Right and we already hashed that out, but thanks for reminding everyone.


    I'm very well aware of the demands and usage of the Sprint/Nextel network. I'm not sure what part of the market you were in during the Sprint PCS build out in 1997, but in the original Lucent Mini-Cell days it wasn't unusual for a larger capacity site, say an F4 or F5 to have all four antennas active in each sector. The smaller sites were only using two antennas, but don't forget that the combining wasn't done in the same fashion as it is today.

    I can go back in my pictures from the initial LA03 deployments and almost every single Sprint PCS site was built with four single pole antennas on each sector, it was practically guaranteed in the CCU8/10 days. Likewise most of the original Nextel sites were built with four antennas on each sector and to this day they are still building some new sites with four antennas per sector. Are they all active? No, but you build for the future and Nextel was very good about this. If you're gonna go fight zoning commissions you ask for as many antennas as possible, not just what you currently need as that is guaranteed to change.

    The percentages I'm using are generalizations and I apologize for not clarifying that and going through the actual site counts I'd have to lower that number of purchased from others sites to about 20% of the current Nextel 'Los Angeles' market. Not all these sites were purchased prior to the launch in 1994, but none-the-less, between then and now they were purchased from other SMR operators.

    Yes and no, but you wouldn't refer to an antenna as a "duplex antenna" as by definition an antenna is a device that sends and receives radio signals so saying duplex antennas is just being repetitive. The transmission line between the antenna and the base station is a full duplex system and carries a duplexed signal, but again we're hashing things out here to the pure dictionary definitions.
     
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  27. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    Commchf,

    It helps keep things organized if you just post everything in one post instead of 4 separate consecutive posts and use the quote or multi-quote feature. Also you can edit your posts for a while if you left something out.
     
    #27 larry, Jan 23, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009

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