What is an Interleaved Passive Active Antenna?

What is an Interleaved Passive Active Antenna (IPAA)? What is it used for? 

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- everything RF

Aug 17, 2021

The Interleaved Passive Active Antenna (IPAA) for 5G is an antenna developed by Nokia and CommScope that also supports legacy cellular technologies like 4G, 3G and 2G scattered over a variety of frequency bands. It combines Nokia's mMIMO radio technology and CommScope’s passive antenna technology in a single unit. This antenna is a compact all-in-one solution for situations where there is limited space on a tower to hold an antenna for each cellular technology. This single antenna supports multiple technologies and can fit in the same space as existing equipment to cover all current cellular frequency bands.

Operators are already having to juggle a dizzying array of requirements—from network capacity and service level agreements to operating costs and time to market. 5G adds another layer of complexity. This piece of smart engineering from CommScope and Nokia helps simplify the equation and provides a smoother migration path to the next milestone, 5G.

The IPAA versatile hybrid antenna platform consists of two field-replaceable modules:

  • A purely passive module that supports multiple bands in the range of 700 MHz to 2.7 GHz.
  • A passive-active module that includes TDD beamforming functionality for 5G n78 (3.4-3.8 GHz). This passive-active module also includes an extension of the low band arrays to avoid re-optimizing existing networks at 700-900 MHz.

The modularity of the IPAA solution gives mobile operators the flexibility to tailor the antenna for their specific needs. It is also designed for easy field upgrading for both base and top modules. The passive base module is available in different port and antenna array configurations to cover a variety of deployment scenarios. The top module, with interleaved low-band elements, is available in 8T8R and 64T64R configurations and a 32T32R version is set to be available in 2021. This antenna uses the same radio as standalone antenna deployments for full network compatibility.

The modular IPAA simplifies the introduction of 5G NR technology by enabling its deployment on the existing sites without the need for additional footprints. This enables operators to roll out 5G services faster and keep pace with the increasing subscriber demand for mobile broadband. As site permitting is a critical issue for wireless network operators today, the IPAA enables operators to upgrade and future-proof their networks for new features while supporting existing capabilities within an existing footprint. The IPAA also helps overcome many of the issues that typically hinder the deployment of 5G by simplifying and speeding up installation. Additionally, the modularity of the IPAA enables clear upgradeability paths and investment protection, as well as lower operating expenses for customers.

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