Interesting Patents: AT&T’s 5G Antenna Placement Method

Interesting Patents:
Placement of antennas for fifth generation (5G) or other next generation networks
U.S. Patent No. 10,986,509
Assignee: AT&T
The Race to 5G

China is leading the 5G network forefront with the world’s largest 5G mobile network, said to contain 792,000 base stations. According to VIVAI Solutions’ “The State of 5G” report, 5G network is available in over 341 cities in China compared to 279 in the U.S. However, U.S. mobile carriers continue to ramp up their efforts of bringing this high-speed mobile network to more users.

With the rollout of 5G wireless technology comes the challenge of developing and deploying a new antenna network and base station infrastructure. The 5G network system utilizes a higher frequency of radio waves than the 4G system, decreasing the range of transmission. Thus, more antennas and base stations will be required for network reliability, and these particular antenna placements will need to be strategically implemented.

About the Patent

This week AT&T was issued a patent to address antenna network challenges using an iterative simulation system to determine the most efficient and effective locations to place antennas. The patent’s background describes:

“To continue supporting next generations of mobile devices, radio access networks are constantly evolving to include new and different types of hardware. Antennas, for example, are included in some modern networks with designs that support much higher-bandwidth than have been widely employed in previous generations of wide area networks. In some implementations, a much larger number of these high-bandwidth antennas are used to provide network coverage. Problems can occur however, when conventional approaches are used to design these networks.

For example, for newer high-bandwidth millimeter wave transmitters, in some network implementations, one hundred or more transmitters per square mile can be sited for network coverage. With current manual approaches, only a small number of such networks can be evaluated. Without rapid evaluation of many different implementations, network designs with high levels of efficient coverage may be missed.

The above-described background relating to network hardware is merely intended to provide a contextual overview of some current issues, and is not intended to be exhaustive. Other contextual information may become further apparent upon review of the following detailed description.”

The system simulates propagation patterns of the antenna and predicts expected network use at a specific geographic location. As more and more iterations are processed for the given geographic area a ranked list is generated with the best specific locations to place an antenna. There are additional parameters the system can evaluate when selecting a location as well such as expected cost to build an antenna in the location and the utility of operating said antenna. Beyond the individual placement of antennas for a specific geographic location the system can also be used to establish a multi-antenna network to cover a larger geographical area. Each antenna is evaluated individually as before but further analysis of the overall network is done to further optimize each individual antenna placement.


5G communication systems bring an unprecedented level of networking capability compared to the previous generations. While 4G operated in the 700-2500 MHz range 5G operates in the 28-39 GHz range. This not only allows for the extreme miniaturization in the hardware components within the system but also enables new signal techniques, like beamforming, to be employed throughout the network. These advanced signal processing techniques allow for a much more predictable propagation pattern that would have been unthinkable in previous network generations. This not only allows the invention to more accurately predict the correct location to deploy antennas, but also enables a much more efficient network overall. With the ability to predict and simulate the expected coverage of next generation networks telecommunication companies will be able to provide users with the most up-to-date networks while ensuring that the network is being deployed accurately.

What’s on the Horizon for AT&T’s 5G

AT&T currently offers 5G service as well as 5G+ that utilizes millimeter wave spectrum for high-traffic areas. In March, AT&T released its 2021 5G strategy, unveiling goals to bring fast, reliable 5G service to more users. The plans highlights efforts of powering 5G+ stadium experiences in 17 sporting venues, plans for strategic gaming alliances and 5G+ gaming events, launching 5G+ services at select U.S. airports, adding 5G wireless solutions to their business-focused broadband network, and exploring 5G-powered augmented and virtual reality use with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Written by John DeStefano, Technical Advisor
and Lauren Hawksworth, Marketing Administrator
April 20, 2021


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