Smart Antenna Technologies To Aid Wireless Systems

by CXOtoday Staff    Aug 30, 2006

A recent study by Frost & Sullivan has revealed that smart antenna technologies can emerge as an innovative way to meet a growing demand for increasingly powerful, cost-effective and efficient wireless systems.

The study claimed that with an increasing potential to measure performance of wireless systems in terms of data rates, coverage and range, wireless technologies have the possibility to take wireless communications industry to the next level.

“While techniques such as lower noise amplifiers and wider bandwidths can enhance the performance of wireless systems to some extent, they cannot match the huge benefits offered by smart antennas,” said Ashwini Meena, Research Analyst, Frost & Sullivan.

“The attraction of smart antenna technologies lies in the fact that they offer specific benefits such as greater coverage and range, improved building penetration, higher data rates and capacity, as well as reduced multipath and co-channel interference,” added Meena.

The use of digital signal processors (DSPs) in smart antennas will be a key driver for the growth of these technologies, and with these low-cost DSPs, smart antennas should have the potential to move beyond defense systems and be incorporated in commercial systems.

The use of smart antenna technologies in worldwide interoperability will possibly assist in terms of microwave access (WiMax) and voice over wireless fidelity (VoWi-FI). The emerging application areas such as ultra wideband (UWB), radio frequency identification (RFID), and mobile direct broadcast satellite (DBS) can see widespread adoption of technologies in the next few years. This would enhance performance of mobile DBS in automotive accessories like back-seat video systems.

“In the near future, some of the potential application opportunities for smart antennas are cellular networks, wireless local area networks (WLANs), WiMax and Mobile DBS. By 2007, smart antennas are likely to become a common feature in these application areas and with the confirmation of 802.11n standard, the number of smart antenna products entering the market is likely to increase considerably,” claimed Meena.

While growth projections for wireless technologies are promising, they also have limitations like wireless noise, range and performance.

Smart antenna technologies claim to resolve such issues, as their application areas are extremely wide. It would be critical for the industry to track trends in the wireless communication segment and also with other emerging wireless technologies. With the proliferation of different types of wireless systems, each offering different advantages under diverse conditions, there will be a strong need for devices that can be used with a variety of systems.

The study added that this would give rise to a considerable challenge to incorporate smart antennas into the multi-platform devices, especially if they have a small form factor, to enable various systems for delivering their best performance.

The study also claimed that the shrinking dimensions of wireless devices such as cell phones, has created a need for miniature antennas that can be easily and effectively embedded in these devices. Also, reducing the size of antenna arrays will present a significant challenge for smart antenna systems. Widespread applicability for the enterprise is seen in the future.