RF MEMS technology can also provide significant value to the RF Front End of Mobile Infrastructure equipment, such as macrocell or small cell base stations. Similar to Smartphones, RF MEMS tuners and switches can be used for matching, filtering, or path switching. However, most interest in RF MEMS today is focused on phased array antennas to enable beamforming.
Beamforming increases data throughput amongst all smartphones connected to a basestation, while also improving utilization efficiency of the allocated spectrum. Beamforming is accomplished by employing a phased array antenna. The same signal is transmitted by each array element. However, by shifting the phase of various elements, a narrow lobe (or beam) can be created and directed. RF MEMS tuners are used as part of a phase-shifter on each array element.
For simplicity, the animation shows the principle for a 1-dimensional beam, but in practice the phased array antenna will be a 2-dimensional array.