High-Power Devices Have Become a High-Stakes Market (.PDF Download)

June 2, 2018
High-Power Devices Have Become a High-Stakes Market (.PDF Download)

Any communications system that transmits high-frequency signals into the air must do so at power levels high enough to meet the needs of the given application. For example, cell phones and base stations both must transmit signals at sufficient levels of power to enable cellular communications. And for radar and satellite-communication (satcom) systems, as well as many others, the transmission of RF/microwave signals at acceptable power levels is critical.

High-power RF/microwave technology stretches beyond data-transmission applications, though. A relatively new area of interest involves utilizing solid-state RF technology for applications such as cooking, automotive ignition, industrial heating, and more. With that in mind, suppliers of RF/microwave power devices are staying busy to meet the needs of both traditional and non-traditional applications.

Wireless Everywhere

Today, wireless communication permeates through every part of the globe. And wireless traffic can rise dramatically at certain times in one environment, particularly during major events like the Super Bowl. To put this into context, NXP Semiconductors recently published an interesting blog post, “Wireless Providers at Super Bowl LII Can’t Afford a Fumble.” The author, Jim Norling, vice president, RF cellular infrastructure at NXP, described how wireless carriers prepared for the massive amounts of voice, data, and video traffic that were expected at this year’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis.

According to the post, technicians from the major cellular carriers reinforced the Minneapolis metro area’s infrastructure, adding more small cells and strengthening both fronthaul and backhaul paths with more fiber. Verizon increased the number of remote units in its distributed antenna system (DAS) at the stadium by 50%. The carrier also added cell sites and small cells at both the Mall of America and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

T-Mobile boosted LTE capacity by 35% and added carrier aggregation. AT&T utilized LTE-Advanced, increased antennas in the stadium to 800, and deployed a DAS at 16 places in the area. Not to be outdone, Sprint built its own 800-remote DAS in the stadium, used LTE-Advanced and carrier aggregation, and mounted 200 small cells throughout Minneapolis.

What was a key ingredient in all of this activity? According to the post, RF power transistors make it all possible, as they allow the thousands of DAS remote units, small cells, and base stations to transmit signals indoors and outdoors—in any kind of weather. Without these RF power transistors, the wireless activity at an event like the Super Bowl wouldn’t be possible.