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PCS / AWS band PIM testing

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The PIM Master™ MW82119A, frequency option 193 is designed to support Passive Intermodulation (PIM) testing at both PCS (1900 MHz) and AWS band (1700/2100 MHz) cell sites. This application note provides a detailed summary of the PCS and AWS spectrum and provides guidance for PIM testing cell sites operating in these frequency bands. 


Passive intermodulation (PIM) is interference generated by the downlink signals at a cell site interacting with non-linear junctions or non-linear materials (PIM sources) in the RF path. PIM most frequently is caused by loose metal connections, lightly touching metal surfaces or corroded metal surfaces. The RF path includes not only the antenna feed system but also includes the antenna itself as well as metal objects illuminated by the antenna.

PIM sources act like a mixer, generating new frequencies that are mathematical combinations of the downlink frequencies present. PIM that fall in an operator’s uplink band can elevate the noise floor, resulting in higher dropped call rates, higher access failures and lower data transmission rates.

Third order intermodulation products (IM3) fall close to the downlink frequency band are relatively high magnitude. Higher order products (IM5, IM7, IM9, etc.) fall farther away from the downlink frequencies and are successively lower in magnitude. Only in extreme circumstances (arcing, very high Tx power) will the magnitude of PIM products above IM9 be high enough to generate harmful interference in an operator’s own uplink band. 

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