Hot, Cold, Dusty or Wet – Wireless Systems Have To Perform
Whether we talk about cellular base stations (BTS, eNodeB) or outdoor Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), wireless infrastructure is always subject to the environment. Still, it has to work flawlessly and under quite challenging conditions. Let us just imagine the scorching heat and the dust storms of Phoenix, Arizona, the crackling cold in Alaska, North Dakota or Siberia, or the all-time-wet environment of rain-forest regions and coastal lines, nevertheless – we simply expect the network to perform and deliver high quality service for our mobile devices.
To make this happen, designers must be prudent when selecting components for their networks. Choosing parts only by their basic electrical characteristics is no longer sufficient; planers have to consider another vital attribute: components used for outdoor installations have to be weatherproof – over their full life cycle.
Whether planning an outdoor DAS or a regular wireless base station, the same question applies: how can network designers determine if the components they need are weatherproof? The answer to this question is actually quite simple: the best indicator for this characteristic is the Ingress Protection rating or IP-rating. Ingress Protection rating is based on clearly defined product tests that analyze both, particle and liquid ingress. If a product is “IP rated”, data sheets provide this information as “IPxy”. The “x” stands for protection against particles, the “y” for protection against fluids: the higher the digit the better the protection. If a component is rated “IP67”, it is guaranteed that absolutely no dust will enter the housing (“6”) and can be submerged in water for up for 30 minutes (“7”). The table below shows the rating levels and their degree of protection.
If components are directly exposed to the environment, the answer to this question must be “yes”. However, the highest IP rated components are more difficult to design and manufacture, which again reflects in the price. Different materials, more precise milling, additional sealing, multi-layers of paint, and many other measures may be required to reach these high IP-ratings. While it would certainly guarantee excellent protection, always using the components with the highest IP-rating may not be necessary to achieve optimal system reliability. The selection of the right components depends on the local circumstances. Microlab solutions cover all needs by offering many components with different IP-rating levels; economic for closed infrastructure areas (e.g. in-building DAS) or fully protected when used outdoors. Check with the specialists. Our global offices will be glad to answer all your questions.
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