Is Your 4G LTE System Beset By Interference? This Is How To Fix It!

Written by on December 20, 2013 in AM/Medium Wave, Interference - 1 Comment
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Carriers with wireless networks using high-gain antenna systems and sensitive 4G LTE receivers are being faced with growing instances of interference from a variety of seemingly unlikely sources.  This interference can wreak havoc on the massive amounts of data flowing through an LTE base station. LBA technical consultancy unit, Lawrence Behr Associates, Inc., has formed a highly equipped rapid response RF interference remediation team to address the unique circumstances associated with 4G LTE interference.

4G LTE Interference

The word crisis is sometimes used inappropriately to grab attention and manufacture urgency.  When is a crisis really a crisis? There’s no question that when a known issue within any industry lingers, it definitely becomes a crisis for individual entities when the issue hits and impacts customers.  That’s kind of where the wireless communications industry is with the issue of 4G LTE interference.  To call it a crisis may be a bit strong, until the boss puts the problem on your desk!

Carriers with wireless networks using some high-gain antenna systems and sensitive 4G LTE receivers are being faced with growing instances of interference from a variety of seemingly unlikely environmental sources.  This interference can wreak havoc on the massive amounts of data flowing through an LTE base station.

Although system integrators take great care to minimize PIM (passive intermodulation) in antennas, coaxial lines, and other components, they have little control over interference originating in the environment beyond the system. While some sources can be predicted from intermodulation studies of interactions with known emitters, many of the new threats are coming from the increasing number of RF sources “in the wild”. “New LTE systems are very sensitive to interference from sources such as CFL bulbs, FM broadcast transmissions, CATV, utility supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, and even rusty bolts,” said LBA Chief Technical Officer, Dr. Chris Horne, PE.

Locating 4G LTE uplink interference

Locating 4G LTE uplink interference

Over the course of 2013, LBA has seen an increase in the demand for 4G LTE base station interference remediation. Further needs for remediation will be driven by the increasing deployment of small cells. These will often be outside the relatively sterile environment of a cell site, at locations where no effort has been made to control radio frequency interference sources.  Because of the critical nature of modern competitive communications, wireless carriers and their customers are demanding a fast response and remediation of these issues.  This has led LBA to deploy a highly specialized team to meet the urgent interference resolution demands of its customers. The team of experienced personnel and resources is being led by LBA CTO, Dr. Chris Horne.

Remediating these threats is not a desk job! It requires a combination of expertise. Typically, computer analysis can define likely candidates, along with careful study of carrier logs and technician observations. But then, it’s time for boots on the ground and interference analyzers in hand. LBA field staff have been everywhere from cattle feedlots to rooftops in the quest for interference sources. Once located, the delicate task of remediation begins.

Often, the source will be totally unknowing, and negotiating as well as technical skills may be required. It is not unknown for the remediation effort to end up enmeshed in legal hands. For these reasons, a team of experienced professionals is required on the carrier’s side to ensure abatement of interference problems. “Our capability is not only to locate the source of interference, but also to help develop or negotiate a solution, particularly if the RF interference source is coming from a third party,” added Dr. Horne.

PIM from a rooftop rusty bolt crippled this LTE system

PIM from a rooftop rusty bolt crippled this LTE system

For instance, should investigation discover that a fluorescent lighting fixture in a nearby retail establishment is the source of interference for an LTE site, successfully negotiating a speedy resolution with a skeptical retail operator would be critical. This may involve much more than the typical technician response of just walking in and pulling the plug! For this reason carriers are finding it efficient to contract an experienced RF interference specialist that can quickly isolate the source of the interference, and then help them navigate to a rapid, economical resolution where everyone wins.

LBA is a noted authority on RF and wireless infrastructure issues, having often published and led seminars on the topic while establishing a successful track record of solutions spanning 50 years. As an industry resource, LBA also manages the popular 4G LTE Radio Interference Forum on LinkedIn.

To put the LBA Fast Response Team to work for you, or for more information on RF interference remediation, contact Mike Britner at mike.britner@lbagroup.com  or 252-757-0279.

You can enjoy industry news, information and humor, as well as keep up with LBA, on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/LBAGroup.


David HornDavid Horn is an award-winning business and marketing development specialist with LBA Group, Inc. He helps some of the largest companies in the country implement regulatory compliance programs. LBA also utilizes his decades of experience in communications and new media to supplement the global marketing initiatives of the company. He specializes in turning complex topics into informative and entertaining stories.

 

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