Cell and Sector Terminology
Jim Harless, a regular contributor, recently checked in regarding six sector cells. He agrees with Mark about the early days, that six sector cells in AMPS did not work out. He notes that "At Metawave (link now dead) I've been actively involved in converting some busy CDMA cells to 6-sector using our smart antenna platform. Although our technology is vendor specific, you can't use it with all equipment, it actually works quite well, regardless of the added number of pilots and increase in soft handoffs. In short, six sector simply allows carriers to populate the cell with more channel elements. Also, they are looking for improved cell performance, which we have been able to provide. By the way, I think the reason early CDMA papers had inflated capacity numbers were because they had six sector cells in mind."
Mark says "I don't recall any discussion of anything like that. But Qualcomm knew next to nothing about a commercial mobile radio environment. They had been strictly military contractors. So they had a lot to learn, and I think they made some bad assumptions early on. I think they just underestimated the noise levels that would exist in the real world. I do know for sure that the 'other carrier jammer' problem caught them completely by surprise. That's what we encountered when mobiles would drive next to a competitors site and get knocked off the air. They had to re-design the phone.
Now, what about those hexagon shaped cell sites?
Mark van der Hoek says the answer has to do with frequency planning and vehicle traffic. "After much experimenting and calculating, the Bell team came up with the solution that the honeybee has known about all along -- the hex system. Using 3 sectored sites, major roads could be served by one dominant sector, and a frequency re-use pattern of 7 could be applied that would allow the most efficient re-use of the available channels."