Tower mounted amplifiers have now become a common addition to most macro base station systems. They increase overall system performance and are now easily mounted and monitored. Tower mounted amplifiers can provide significant BTS performance improvement for a moderate investment. Lance Wilson, research director, mobile networks, notes, “The use of tower mounted amplifiers in wireless infrastructure base station systems represents one of the most cost effective ways of improving overall system performance.”  

A tower mounted amplifier is a low-noise RF amplifier that is inserted in the receive path of a macro mobile wireless infrastructure base station. They are generally placed in the coaxial transmission line that goes from a ground mounted base station to the antenna array. Tower mounted amplifiers are normally located as close to the antenna as possible. 

The tower mounted amplifier holds an almost unique spot in the base station RF hardware chain. It can be a portion of a complete system from the outset of an installation or they can be added later as needed.

There are new hardware technologies, however, namely remote radio heads and active antennas, which will represent a threat to TMA market growth. “Although tower mounted amplifiers still represent healthy business, that market position will be threatened by the increasing use of remote radio heads and active antennas, both of which include the tower mounted antenna functionality,” adds Wilson.

ABI Research’s report, “Tower Mounted Amplifiers for Cellular Base Stations,” is part of a trilogy that looks at tower-top RF electronics for mobile wireless base stations. The companion reports cover remote radio heads and active antennas.

This report is part of ABI Research’s Radio Access Networks Research Service.