There are two basic types of smart antennas. As shown in Fig. 6.1, the first type is the phased array or multibeam antenna, which consists of either a number of fixed beams with one beam turned on towards the desired signal or a single beam (formed by phase adjustment only) that is steered toward the desired signal. The other type is the adaptive antenna array as shown in Fig. 6.2, which is an array of multiple antenna elements, with the received signals weighted and combined to maximize the desired signal to interference plus noise power ratio. This essentially puts a main beam in the direction of the desired signal and nulls in the direction of the interference.

A smart antenna is therefore a phased or adaptive array that adjusts to the environment. That is, for the adaptive array, the beam pattern changes as the desired user and the interference move; and for the phased array the beam is steered or different beams are selected as the desired user moves.

Nearly every company the WTEC panel visited is doing significant work in smart antennas. Indeed, some companies placed strong emphasis on this research. In particular, researchers at NEC and NTT stated that they felt that smart antenna technology was the most important technology for fourth generation cellular systems. Researchers at Filtronics and other companies agreed that smart antenna technology was one of the key technologies for fourth generation systems. The reasons appear below.

Fig. 6.1. Phased array.

Fig. 6.2. Adaptive array.

Published: July 2000; WTEC Hyper-Librarian