The integrated GNSS master (IGM) portfolio is often viewed as an excellent small 1588v2 PTP grandmaster at the edge of the network to serve clusters of base stations. As with phase requirements, eNodeBs need to be served from grandmasters as close as possible to the edge to meet stringent phase requirements. However, customers may consider GPS/GNSS at the edge and may view GPS/GNSS as an alternative to a 1588v2 grandmaster like IGM. But GPS/GNSS and PTP 1588v2 are not two conflicting technologies; GPS is a source whereas 1588v2 is a distribution mechanism. The question is not really GPS versus 1588, but what is the best way to distribute time. The choice is between a legacy solution and a smart solution.
The legacy way to distribute time from a GPS signal is to use a traditional antenna, a coax cable, and a splitter for distribution. This traditional way is not flexible, does not scale with densification needs for LTE-A and 5G, does not present any backup solution, does not provide any management capabilities, and does not evolve with standards.
On the other hand, the IGM portfolio is a smart antenna bundled with a 1588v2 grandmaster. It offers the same ability to distribute time from GPS/GNSS, but also offers the ability to leverage Ethernet rather than coax cabling for a much more scalable and cost-effective solution. It offers backup in case the GPS signal goes down, management capabilities including monitoring, and the ability to evolve with standards, to serve legacy base stations and also new technologies.
As shown by the following, a smart antenna, Ethernet, and a smart splitter (1588 grandmaster) is the right way to leverage GPS in mobile networks.
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