We have many types of antenna used in telecommunication, with each playing a critical role in the reception/transmission of communication signals.
In this case, some of the main signals include satellite, television, radio, and cellular.
However, the antennas are different, with some offering better performance or costing more than others.
Therefore, understanding the different antenna types in telecommunication is a step in grasping details relating to modern communication systems.
Generally, we categorize antennas into directional and omnidirectional antennas, with the former finding great application in point-to-point communication.
On the other hand, omnidirectional antennas are useful when capturing signals from any directional.
But how do you select an antenna that suits you from such a large pool? Read on to find out.
Table of Contents
- What Is An Antenna
- Fundamental Parameters of Antennas
- Types of Antennas We Use In Telecommunication
What Is An Antenna
(A technician installing an antenna)
An antenna is a telecommunication system that sends and receives electromagnetic waves (signals) in radio frequency systems.
This transducer converts radio waves to electrical signals during reception and vice versa during transmission.
Generally, we have different antenna types, with each serving specific applications.
The common devices that use antennas include televisions, smartphones, WiFi routers, and communication satellites.
Fundamental Parameters of Antennas
(A worker installing an antenna on a roof)
Now that we understand what an antenna involves, we must highlight its different characteristics.
These unique antenna characteristics and properties are fundamental parameters and are as follows.
Practically, antennas don’t radiate their energy with equal strength in all directions. Normally, the radiation is optimum in one direction and almost zero or minimum in another.
We measure the radiation pattern in field strength, which we arrive at by dividing the voltage between two points by the distance between them.
This is the power per unit solid angle; we represent it in watts per steradian (W/Sr).
Directivity & Gain
Directivity measures an antenna’s effectiveness at focusing the radiation patterns in a certain direction.
Generally, directional antennas (high directivity) radiate signals in one direction, while omnidirectional antennas radiate in all directions.
Moreover, the antenna gain measures an antenna’s ability to increase the signal power it receives/transmits in a certain direction.
Therefore, high-gain antennas mean improved signal strength and increased overall performance.
Radiation Efficiency and Power Gain
The radiation efficiency measures the ratio of power the antenna radiates its input power.
Likewise, the power gain represents the ratio of the power the antenna radiates in a specific direction to the overall input power.
The antenna system requires you to match the input impedance to the transmission line’s input impedance.
Otherwise, the system degrades thanks to reflected power.
This theoretical measurement defines the antenna’s electrical length for a particular operation wavelength and frequency.
The length is shorter than the physical length and represents a section of the antenna contributing to electromagnetic wave reception and transmission.
This refers to a certain range of frequencies over which signal transmission and reception occur.
This parameter measures an antenna’s ability to radiate or capture electromagnetic waves.
Simply put, it measures an antenna’s ability to convert radio waves into signals and vice versa.
Polarization measures the orientation of the signal that an antenna receives or radiates.
Generally, optimal performance results from the antenna polarization matching the polarization of the received/transmitted signals.
A slight mismatch could result in signal loss.
Types of Antennas We Use In Telecommunication
(An active dipole antenna)
Various telecommunication antennas have unique features that meet particular requirements, including frequency band, environmental conditions, directionality, and signal range.
Here are some common antennas you will find in telecommunication systems.
This simplest antenna has two conductive elements in a straight line.
Therefore, we use these antennas in situations like radio broadcasting and WiFi routers where omnidirectional radiation is necessary.
These antennas are highly directional and have multiple elements (directors, reflectors, and driven elements).
Therefore, their directionality makes them useful for receiving TV broadcast signals and long-distance point-to-point communication.
(A parabolic antenna facing the sky)
All parabolic antennas have a curved (parabolic-shaped) reflector that focuses signals on a feed element at the center (focal point).
Therefore, these antennas have a narrow bandwidth and high gain, making them useful for long-distance satellite communication.
Horn antennas are designed with a flared shape and find great radar and microwave applications.
These antennas present a wide bandwidth, making them perfect for high-frequency applications.
These flat, rectangular antennas are commonly used in wireless applications, especially RFID devices.
Therefore, they are very compact, and you can comfortably stick them on wireless devices.
You will find planar antennas (microstrip antennas) on printed circuit boards.
These antennas are common in GPS systems and smartphones because of their ease of installation.
(The Helical antennas)
Helical antennas are designed with coil wounds in a helix shape. We mainly employ these antennas in handheld radio and satellite communication devices.
Therefore, they offer omnidirectional and circular polarization coverage.
Phased Array Antenna
Manufacturers design phased array antennas with multiple elements to control & electronic phase shifting to regulate the antenna beam direction.
This happens without the physical movement of the antenna.
Therefore, you will find these antennas in radar & satellite communication systems.
Does the type of antenna you use matter?
Yes, the type of antenna you use matters a lot in telecommunication.
Generally, every antenna has unique characteristics that make it adapt to unique application situations.
For example, the type of antenna you select will determine the gain, directionality, and signal range, affecting overall performance.
Therefore, employing the right antenna types means optimal signal reception or transmission, directly improving communication quality.
A good example is a directional antenna that performs optimally in point-to-point communication.
Conversely, omnidirectional antennas offer coverage in all directions.
Types of Antenna Used in Telecommunication: What are the 3 basic types of antennas?
The three antenna types include dipole, loop, and monopole antennas.
A dipole antenna has two wires/rods in a straight line and finds great application in omnidirectional applications.
While the dipole has two conductive elements, the monopole has one conductive element over the ground plane.
This antenna is very compact with great usage in portable devices and cellular base stations.
Lastly, the loop antenna has conductive materials that form a closed loop.
Therefore, these antennas can be rectangular or circular; we use them in radio receivers.
Types of Antenna Used in Telecommunication: Which antenna type do we use in mobile devices?
Mobile devices (tablets & smartphones) use the Planar Inverted-F Antenna (PIFA).
This is simply a compact monopole antenna that you can comfortably integrate in tight spaces in any smartphone.
Surprisingly, these antennas work in high-frequency bands like the 5G and 4G LTE.
They have efficient signal reception/transmission making them perfect for any mobile device.
We have many telecommunication antenna types, each with unique features to support different reception/radiation applications.
We categorize these antennas into omnidirectional ones (radiating signals in all directions) and directional ones (radiating in a single direction).
Therefore, while directional antennas support long-range point-to-point communication, omnidirectional options support signal radiation to many devices in different directions.
This guide will help you choose the best telecommunication antenna that meets your needs.