As AT&T continues to ramp up its build-out of the First Responders Network Authority’s Band 14 spectrum, adding that beachfront 700 MHz spectrum to existing systems poses some deployment challenges.
The FirstNet build-out is happening rapidly. AT&T says that it has deployed Band 14 spectrum in more than 600 markets so far, as it expands its network reach to serve first responders in cities, suburbs and rural areas and meet the coverage goals outlined in its FirstNet contract. AT&T executives said in August that the 700 MHz build-out was about 65% complete, with the goal of reaching 70% by the end of this year.
“Right now, the build-out and focus seems to be on areas that are most susceptible to natural disasters, such as hurricanes and severe storms,” said Shawn Kelly, Customer Training Program Manager with Anritsu. “We’ve been doing training classes all over the U.S., but there has been high demand throughout ‘Hurricane Alley.’ It makes sense to make sure first responders have the communications where they need it most often.”
Since 2018, AT&T has required contractors working on its FirstNet sites to receive external PIM hunting certification training before performing any work, and Anritsu has been there from the beginning to provide this vital training. There is still much to be done on FirstNet Band 14 deployment, and it’s important that technicians have the skills and equipment to support the ongoing work, according to Kelly.
Interference due to passive intermodulation (PIM) is the most common issue that contractors have to address in co-locating FirstNet equipment at cellular sites, Kelly said. This means that technicians have to know how to hunt down PIM sources and address them, and that they need to have the right equipment to help them do so. Technicians need to be trained in the proper techniques so that they can first identify if interference is indeed the root cause of the problem, then pinpoint the source and fix the problem. Anritsu’s PIM hunting solutions, such as the PIM Master MW82119B, the PIM Hunting Probe and the Spectrum Master MS2720T make this easier and faster with rapid set-up, automated test capabilities, and reliable location of signals – even short or bursty ones. Portable instruments with durable housings, thoughtfully planned menus and high-contrast touchscreens are designed to hold up in the field and provide efficient operations.
“The co-location of all those signals is always going to be tricky, but Anritsu has the tools, the training and the know-how to teach technicians how to efficiently and effectively identify passive intermodulation problems and fix those problems the first time, so they can move on to the next site,” said Kelly.
More information on Anritsu’s PIM hunting tools and training classes is available at www.anritsu.com/training
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