While a special antenna is not required for Small Cell deployment in general, they do require the right kind of antennas to make sure the original purpose of deployment is achieved.
Specifications for base-station antennas for use with small cells developed by NTT DOCOMO are shown in the picture above. The following is from the NTT Docomo Technical Journal:
These antennas feature dual polarization and can be shared among the 1.5 GHz and 1.7 GHz frequency bands. A separately developed compact duplexer is installed between the SRE and antenna to separate and combine signals of these frequency bands. The compact configuration of these antennas simplifies their installation.
When planning a service area by placing small cells next to each other, deterioration in signal quality due to interference between small cells is an issue of concern. To resolve this issue, downward tilting in the vertical plane is effective to reduce the interference caused by that antenna’s signals on adjacent cells while also to raise the receive level within the antenna’s own cell. The end result is improved throughput. The following summarizes the features of three types of antennas developed by NTT DOCOMO taking interference reduction and diverse installation environments into account.
1) Rod Antenna (Two Types): Having an omnidirectional radiation pattern in the horizontal plane, this type of antenna is installed on the wall or ceiling of a building to form a service area in its periphery. Two types of rod antennas have been developed: one with tilting for an interference-reduction effect and the other with no tilting for a compact configuration. The rod antenna with tilting consists of multiple vertically aligned antenna elements, the amplitude and phase of each of which is adjusted to produce an electrical tilt. The tilt angle, however, is predetermined.
2) Plane Antenna: This type of antenna has high gain while having a unidirectional radiation pattern making it applicable to installation on high places like building roofs to form a service area in a spot-like manner. A plane antenna can be given a mechanical tilt with a metal fixture to reduce interference.
Interested readers can download the article from here.
I also posted an article on the 3G4G blog titled 'Antenna evolution: From 4G to 5G'. The presentation by Kathrein provides more details on Small Cells and mmWave antennas. Why mmWave? Because most of the industry thinks that mmWave 5G will be small cells.
The relevant part is embedded below“All of 5G looks a lot like a small cell” - Matt Beal, Vodafone Director of Innovation and Architecture at #SCWS2016 https://t.co/RGSC6aSTLF— Zahid Ghadialy (@zahidtg) August 28, 2016
As always, comments, insights and suggestions welcome.