Radio Frequency Systems (RFS) announced its new Active Passive Antenna (APA) system, designed to help operators overcome the technical and economic challenges with network modernization and the evolution to 5G.

The APA uniquely interleaves a 5G active antenna with a passive base station antenna under the same radome. It responds to operators' demand to combine the antennas for 3.5 GHz massive MIMO with existing passive systems, addressing the challenge operators face with cell site restraints when deploying new active antennas in dense urban areas.

The APA is effectively a two-in-one system housed in a form factor the same size as the systems operators have already deployed. Interleaving the two antennas minimizes distortion while ensuring consistently high performance from both systems. APA technology allows operators to prepare for 5G's arrival while improving their 4G and LTE-A networks increase capacity.

RFS’ interleaved APA system has a number of benefits:

  1. Simplifies the evolution to 5G, allowing operators to easily deploy active antennas, introducing new spectrum bands to existing macro sites without increasing the antenna count per sector — and minimising visual impact
  2. Lowers the total cost of ownership by sharing the chassis and RF components between the two antenna systems, which reduces wind load
  3. More efficiently addresses the heat dissipation of active antenna technology, by using the design and housing of the existing passive antenna as the heat exchanger for the active antenna, which improves efficiency, increases reliability and reduces overall weight — downsizing the bulky heatsinks typically needed.

Herbert Merz, CEO at RFS, said, “Operators will have many different options for deploying 5G active antennas, but for dense urban locations where space is a considerable issue, APA technology is a very efficient approach. Investment into infrastructure is going to grow considerably with 5G and so will deployment complexity. This new approach will help to streamline that evolution.”

The APA system will be demonstrated for the first time at Mobile World Congress 2018.