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Tower Designs –

the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

(and a few geeky topics)
Richard P. Biby, P.E.
Waterford Consultants, LLC
Waterford, VA 20197
(540) 882-4290

This document contains copyrighted information of

© 2006 Waterford Consultants, LLC and others
Who Am I
 BS & MS Electrical Engineering & Computer Engineering,
George Washington University, Washington, DC
 Registered Professional Engineer (VA)
 Former CTO of Crown Castle International, Inc.
 Owner of 20ish towers in the DC / VA area
 Owner of Fryers Tower Source
 Publisher, AGL Magazine
 Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Waterford Consultants,
 Active in analysis of Non-Ionizing Radiation for approximately 10
 Founder of Sitesafe, Inc.
What RF Engineers Want
 20’ Tip to Tail Vertical Separation
 Interleave 800 MHz and 1900 MHz
 To be at the top of the tower
 No visual impairment between antenna and
cell phone
 To be the only carrier on the tower
 Three antennas (Cellular), Two antennas
What RF Engineers Usually Get
 20’ Tip to Tail Vertical Separation
 Interleave 800 MHz and 1900 MHz
 To be at the top of the tower
 No visual impairment between antenna and
cell phone
 To be the only carrier on the tower
 Three antennas (Cellular), Two antennas
What RF Engineers Will Accept
(If management, the attorneys, regulatory affairs, operations, construction and real estate insists)

 20’ Tip to Tail Vertical Separation

 Interleave 800 MHz and 1900 MHz
 To be at the top of the tower
 No visual impairment between antenna and
cell phone
 To be the only carrier on the tower
 Three antennas (Cellular), Two antennas
Why 20’ Tip to Tail?
 Interference
 Physically increasing spacing between antennas
reduces amount of energy from one carrier’s TX
antennas into another carrier’s RX antennas
 Industry “standard” which could use some
additional research
 Performance
 A system can receive weaker signals if there is no
large source of background noise
 Could result in less sites ($$ savings)
Why 20’ Tip to Tail?
 Few documented Interference issues when
spacing closer

Why Interleave 800 & 1900 MHz?

 Reduction in interference
 800 MHz antennas receive 1900 MHz signals less
efficiently then a 1900 MHz receive antenna, and
vice versa. Vertically interleaving 800 & 1900 MHz
carriers essentially doubles the separation
To be at the Top of the Tower
 Best position for Coverage, transmit and
 Will, typically, cost the most to be on top
 Carriers willing to be anchor tenant will often
end up paying more to secure top spot
 Best position for reduced interference
 May have increased lightining exposure
No Visual Impairment Between
Antenna and Cell Phone
 Any visual impairment will have an effect
(negatively) on the effective radiated power (ERP) of
the site, reducing coverage, increasing costs, and
will also reduce the mobile units ability to talk back –
either reducing coverage or requiring phone to
transmit at higher power, reducing battery life.
 Not as big an issue in dense, highly populated areas
where coverage will be limited by capacity
constraints rather than coverage.
Three antennas (Cellular), Two
antennas (PCS)
 Cellular systems typically have two receive
antennas (for space receive diversity) and
one transmit (no diversity needed on
 PCS systems typically have one antenna
which is receive only and one that transmits
and receives
 Some systems may have a forth antenna for
transmission if the site is very heavily loaded.
A Method For Combating Rayleigh Fading
Polarization Diversity

Use where Space Diversity Isn’t convenient

 Sometimes zoning considerations or
aesthetics preclude using separate diversity
receive antennas
 Dual-polarized antenna pairs within a single
radome are becoming popular
 Antenna pair within one radome can be V-H

polarized, or diagonally polarized
or  Each individual array has its own
\+/ independent feedline

Antenna A
Antenna B
Cross Polarization
Antenna Mounting Considerations
Estimating Isolation Between Antennas
Often multiple antennas are needed at a site
and interaction is troublesome
 Electrical isolation between antennas
 Coupling loss between isotropic antennas
one wavelength apart is 22 dB
 6 dB additional coupling loss with each
doubling of separation
 Add gain or loss referenced from
horizontal plane patterns
 Measure vertical separation between
centers of the antennas
 vertical separation usually is very
 One antenna should not be mounted in main
lobe and near-field of another
 Typically within 10 feet @ 800 MHz
A Method For Combating Rayleigh Fading
Space Diversity

 Fortunately, Rayleigh fades are

very short and last a small
percentage of the time
 Two antennas separated by
several wavelengths will not
generally experience fades at the
same time
Signal received by  “Space Diversity” can be obtained
Antenna 1 by using two receiving antennas
and switching instant-by-instant to
Signal received by whichever is best
Antenna 2
 Required separation D for good
decorrelation is (10-20) 
Combined Signal  D = (12-24) ft. @ 800 MHz.
 D = (5-10) ft. @ 1900 MHz.
Summary of Alternative
 Pros  Cons
 Reduced Visual Impact  Increased costs (2, 3 or 4
 Reduced Number of
carriers per site
 Higher operational costs
 Increased Engineering
Complexity & Reduced
Special Thanks To…

Much of the material in this presentation has been

developed by Mr. Scott Baxter, P.E. and is used with
his permission.

Stealth Technologies

Invisible Towers, Inc.

Fun with Antennas
(Time Permitting)
Basic Antenna Characteristics
Radiation In Different Directions
Radiation:  Each “slice” of the antenna produces a
out of phase, definite amount of radiation at a specific
cancel phase angle
 Strength of signal received varies,
depending on direction of departure
from radiating antenna
Maximum  In some directions, the components
TX contributions add up in phase to a strong signal
in phase, level
reinforce  An antenna’s directivity is the same for
transmission & reception

out of phase,
Basic Antenna Characteristics
Antenna Gain
 Antennas are passive devices: they do not produce
 Can only receive power in one form and pass Antenna
it on in another, minus incidental losses
 Cannot generate power or “amplify”
 However, an antenna can appear to have “gain”
compared against another antenna or condition.
This gain can be expressed in dB or as a power
ratio. It applies both to radiating and receiving
 A directional antenna, in its direction of maximum
radiation, appears to have “gain” compared against
a non-directional antenna
 Gain in one direction comes at the expense of less
radiation in other directions
 Antenna Gain is RELATIVE, not ABSOLUTE
 When describing antenna “gain”, the
comparison condition must be stated or
implied Directional
Reference Antennas
Antenna Gain And ERP - Examples
 Many wireless systems use omni antennas like the one
shown in this figure
 These patterns are drawn to scale in E-field radiation units,
based on equal power to each antenna Isotropic
 Notice the typical wireless omni antenna concentrates
most of its radiation toward the horizon, where users are,
at the expense of sending less radiation sharply upward or
 The (typical) wireless antenna’s maximum radiation is 12.1 Dipole
dB stronger than the isotropic (thus 12.1 dBi gain), and
10 dB stronger than the dipole (so 10 dBd gain).

Gain Comparison
Typical Wireless
12.1 dBi Isotropic Omni Antenna
10dBd Dipole Gain 12.1 dBi or 10 dBd
Radiation Patterns
Key Features And Terminology
An antenna’s directivity is
expressed as a series of Typical Example
patterns Horizontal Plane Pattern
 The Horizontal Plane Pattern graphs Notice -3 dB points
the radiation as a function of azimuth 0 (N)
(i.e..,direction N-E-S-W)
 The Vertical Plane Pattern graphs the 10 dB
-10 points
radiation as a function of elevation
(i.e.., up, down, horizontal) -20
 Antennas are often compared by Main
-30 dB Lobe
noting specific landmark points on their
patterns: 270 90
 -3 dB (“HPBW”), -6 dB, -10 dB (W) nulls or a Minor (E)
points minim Lobe
 Front-to-back ratio Front-to-back Ratio
 Angles of nulls, minor lobes, etc.

180 (S)
Antennas used in Wireless
Omni Antennas - Collinear Vertical Arrays

The family of omni-directional wireless

antennas: Typical Collinear Arrays
 Number of elements determines Number of Power Gain, Angle
Elements Gain dB 
 Physical size 1 1 0.00 n/a
2 2 3.01 26.57°
 Gain 3 3 4.77 18.43°
 Beamwidth, first null angle 4
 Models with many elements have 6 6 7.78 9.46°
7 7 8.45 8.13°
very narrow beamwidths 8 8 9.03 7.13°
9 9 9.54 6.34°
 Require stable mounting and 10 10 10.00 5.71°
careful alignment 11
 Watch out: be sure nulls do not 13 13 11.14 4.40°
14 14 11.46 4.09°
fall in important coverage areas
 Rod and grid reflectors are Vertical Plane Pattern
sometimes added for mild directivity
Examples: 800 MHz.: dB803, PD10017, BCR- B 

10O, Kathrein 740-198 Angle

1900 MHz.: dB-910, ASPP2933 first
Transmission Line Characteristics
Some Practical Considerations

 Transmission lines practical considerations

 Periodicity of inner conductor supporting
structure can cause VSWR peaks at some
frequencies, so specify the frequency
band when ordering
 Air dielectric lines
 lower loss than foam-dielectric; dry air is
excellent insulator
 shipped pressurized; do not accept delivery if
pressure leak
 Foam dielectric lines
 simple, low maintenance; despite slightly
higher loss
 small pinholes and leaks can allow water
penetration and gradual attenuation increases

Antenna Downtilt
Vertical Depression Angles
 Basic principle: important to match vertical
pattern against intended coverage targets
 Compare the angles toward objects against
the antenna vertical pattern -- what’s radiating
toward the target? Depression
 Don’t position a null of the antenna toward angle Vertical
an important coverage target! distance
 Sketch and formula
 Notice the height and horizontal distance
must be expressed in the same units
before dividing (both in feet, both in miles, Horizontal
etc.) distance

 = ArcTAN ( Vertical distance / Horizontal distance )

Antenna Selection/Installation Scenario
Reduce radiation interference to another cell

User A
User B

The Vision
weak  Radiate a strong signal toward everything within
the serving cell, but significantly reduce the
strong radiation toward the area of Cell B

The Reality
 When actually calculated, it’s surprising how
small the difference in angle is between the far
edge of cell A and the near edge of Cell B
 Delta in the example is only 0.3 degrees!!
Reality  Let’s look at antenna patterns
150 ft
1 2

12 miles

1 = ArcTAN ( 150 / ( 4 * 5280 ) )

= -0.4 degrees

2 = ArcTAN ( 150 / ( 12 * 5280 ) )

= -0.1 degrees