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Enhanced Cellular Coverage and Capacity

Network Optimization And Testing PIM Testing 123

Reducing or eliminating passive intermodulation (PIM) is paramount in today's high-performance RF networks. From cell site to in-building distributed antenna systems (iDAS), contractors and installers are being required to perform PIM testing during the installation and after any "hands-in-the-network" activity. As PIM is introduced into the network through poor installation methods and inferior-quality components, network performance begins to degrade, creating QoS and QoE issues for end users, and less-than- optimal transmission rates and capacity for the network.

The rapid growth of wireless networks and subsequent demands put on installers and field technician have created concerns among wireless carriers that PIM testing is not being carried out as effectively as it should be. Effective PIM testing requires three components to be successful: (1) proper test tools; (2) Defined Method of Procedures (MOPs); and (3) training/knowledge. The good news for all involved is that the key players in the PIM testing marketing are providing solutions to combat PIM-related network optimization issues.

First, when selecting a high-performance, portable PIM tester, consider the Kaelus iPA that is perfect for field deployment. With battery power and a ruggedized construction, there really is no excuse to not conduct testing and evaluations during the site installation phase. The newest generation of PIM testers is also very user-friendly and in all cases, will increase the efficiency of field operations and create "as built" records of the installation's performance. Additionally, the price of testers along with leasing and rental options is falling in line with a solid ROI for users as in-building and LTE upgrades continue to drive our market outlook. Word is that when properly used in the field, Range-to-Fault testing can save time and redundant efforts by quickly and accurately identifying PIM sources within the RF transmission system itself and also external to the antenna. As more tower owners, service providers, and design engineers recognize the significance of PIM, they are adopting and implementing MOPs to ensure that installations and materials used do not contribute to poor network performance. Nobody will argue that these are not good steps to take; however, if you do not have the right tester and adequately trained technicians, MOPs are useless.

Finally, it is recognized that there is an industry-wide shortage of qualified technicians that are capable of running tests to find and fix PIM-related troubles. More good news is that there are plenty of training options - everything from introductory seminars to certification classes and online resources – to quickly get you and your team up to speed.

Make PIM testing easy as 1-2-3 – after all, it's just another effort to ensure the performance of the wireless network. It doesn't have to be complicated, but you do need to select and acquire the right tools for your operation and align your resources with the proper support for training, and like all testing efforts, upgrades, repairs and calibration. Make it easy...think 1-2-3.

Scott Gregory can be reached at gregorys@tessco.com

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