The use of fiber in networks of all kinds is increasing by the day. Fiber brings increased capacity, but also carries new, unique challenges and a need for careful, efficient testing and measurement. Where can technicians and engineers find he most current, helpful information about the latest tips and tricks for testing and installation? Well, now you can find it on the new RF over Fiber Users Group on LinkedIn!

Why RFoFiber? Modern cell sites are evolving to distributed architectures, where the traditional base-station transceiver subsystem (BTS) is now divided into two main elements:

  • a baseband unit (BBU) at the base of the tower or hosted remotely in a so-called BBU hotel location, and
  • a remote radio head (RRH) performing radio frequency (RF) functions, next to the antennas at the top of the tower

The BBU and RRH elements may communicate via the common public radio interface (CPRI) or the open base-station architecture initiative (OBSAI) protocols, which now carry the digital RF information over fiber links. This is commonly referred as FTTA or Fiber-To-The-Antenna. VIAVI Solutions (formerly JDSU) was the first test and measurement vendor to introduce the concept of RF over Fiber (RFoFiber).

FTTA architectures present clear advantages for network operators in terms of infrastructure cost savings and increased network scalability. However, new challenges have also arisen for the operational teams that carry out routine maintenance activities. As RF access is only available at the top of the tower, the ability to detect interference can be a challenging, dangerous, and expensive task, if they need to climb the tower every time.

RFoFiber (also RFoCPRI or RFoOBSAI) technology enables effective interference analysis from the base of the tower and thereby minimizes tower climbs, reduces safety concerns, and lowers maintenance costs.

Testing procedures using RFoFiber also apply to different network topologies like Small Cell, DAS or C-RAN, to reduce maintenance costs and quickly identify potential issues in the RF environment, including PIM detection, antenna/MIMO unbalance, signal interferences, etc., without the need to physically access the actual site antennas.

To take advantage, operators need dependable CPRI or OBSAI test equipment, and VIAVI Solutions was first to market with CPRI support. VIAVI offers RFoFiber testing on our CellAdvisor™ Base Station Analyzer, our T-BERD/MTS-5800 handheld network tester, and our newest solution, CPRIAdvisor remote 24×7 monitoring platform.

VIAVI has now created an RFoFiber User Group on LinkedIn, where existing and new customers are welcome to join and actively participate. Group moderator and VIAVI regional solutions manager Genis Sanchez explains, “We envision this LinkedIn group as a place where we can answer questions and share best practices along with new features and measuring capabilities, technical information, and use cases. Based on our work around the world, we will also share real-life experiences associated with RFoFiber testing methods and procedures. I think we will all learn from each other.”

To join the group, all you need is a LinkedIn account! To learn more, visit the RFoFiber User Group page.

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