What is a Leaky Feeder Cable + How Does it Work?

What is a Leaky Feeder Cable + How Does it Work?

If you are working as part of a large business, two way radios can become a vital system in ensuring there is consistent and reliable communication between staff members. Large businesses often span multiple sites which makes reliable two way communication even more important but more difficult to obtain. Mobile phone signals cannot be relied upon as signal coverage can be patchy and inconsistent which can inhibit the safety and running of your business, which is where two way radios come in. Regardless of whether your business is based underground, in a rural area,  in a built up city with dense signal blocking buildings or spanning all three, two way radios can be your solution. With the help of a leaky feeder, your two way radio signal can be trusted to keep you in contact and your business running smoothly. But what is a leaky feeder, and how does a leaky feeder cable work?

What is a leaky feeder?

A leaky feeder cable also known as a ‘radiating cable’ is an alternative to a traditional network of RF antennas. Comparatively, a normal feeder cable is what is used to connect a repeater to an antenna and is designed to trap a signal within the cable and inhibit any other interfering signals penetrating the cable. In contrast, a leaky feeder cable is specially designed to ‘leak’ signal out of the cable in a controlled manner. Simultaneously, the leaky feeder cable will allow a controlled amount of signal to penetrate into the length of the cable. In summation, a leaky feeder cable essentially behaves like a very long antenna for radios, allowing the signal to reach where it would have not been able to without one.

leaky feeder






When do you need a leaky feeder?

In circumstances like tunnel works where it is impractical to install a network of traditional RF antennas or where Licensing restrictions limit signal from radiating outside of a building like a large building in a city centre, Leaky Feeder may be a good option. 

A particular case study that Wall to Wall Communications worked on is the Tottenham Court Road Underground Upgrade. The challenge here was that the staff needed to be able to communicate from underground to above ground, penetrating thick layers of concrete. The solution was to install a leaky feeder antenna system. Installing a leaky feeder cable allowed for the staff working underground to have a consistent and clear connection with the workers above ground level, a vital function in the smooth running of the underground tunnel. 

Installing a leaky feeder

Businesses in need of a leaky feeder typically require this enhanced signal and communication 24 hours a day. For this reason, leaky feeders are generally installed on a permanent basis. 

With over 40 years of experience, Wall to Wall Communications are experts in two way radios and what is required to ensure signal is consistent, wherever you are based. Wall to Wall has installed leaky feeder systems to a number of companies throughout the UK.

What is a Leaky Feeder Cable + How Does it Work?

Leaky Feeder Communication and Installation Guide for Business

Leaky Feeder- The Ultimate Guide

Leaky Feeder, also often known as radiating cable, may sound complicated but can often provide the best solution in terms of quality and RF coverage for your business or project. What does it do? And which businesses and projects should use a leaky feeder installation instead of two way radio and other communication solutions? Read on for answers to those questions alongside expert information and advice about leaky feeder systems.

What is a leaky feeder?

Essentially, a Leaky Feeder acts as functioning extended antenna and is specialist coaxial cable that emits radio frequencies from point A to B. So, where there is leaky feeder cable there is signal.

The reason as to why they are named ‘Leaky feeder’ is due to the ‘leaking’ of signal that comes from the gaps in the copper casing surrounding the cable.

leaky feeder

In simple terms, most co-axial cables have a copper shield surrounding the cable but as mentioned, a leaky feeder has small gaps with allow signal to be transmitted and received back and forth between communicators.

What is beneficial about leaky feeder, is that assets such as couplers and splitters can be used to send extended lengths of cable down different pathways and wireless devices can interface with the feeder, to allow for seamless two-way communication.

What does this mean for your business?

A Leaky feeder installation is a permanent solution, with ensures 24/7 communication when required and is ideal in emergency situations, where easy access to communication is needed.

To take an example, a hotel may need to provide RF coverage to all service areas, and to do this, multiple antenna’s would be required throughout the building (distributed antenna system). A Leaky feeder dramatically reduces the number of access points required and provides a permanent, higher quality solution, beneficial for both staff and guests.

What types of business and projects can leaky feeder systems benefit?

Leaky Feeders are commonly used in venues or spaces where communications tend to be difficult due to signal issues or where is it difficult to obtain an OFCOM licence for an antenna system. While Two-way radios can achieve excellent coverage in areas which mobile phones and other communication devices cannot, in certain circumstances, such as particular types of lifts, tunnels and or in basements they may struggle. This can be a major problem for those who work continuously in these areas such as; construction, mining, shopping centers and buildings where fire regulations stipulate the London Fire Brigade must have radio coverage. By having a leaky feeder system installed and in place, this ensures safety for all in the work place and consistent lines of communication, temporarily or permanently depending on the venue or project.

Choose a company with expertise for your business’ leaky feeder installation

Wall to Wall Communications have provided and recommended Leaky Feeder solutions to a range of companies in London, Surrey, Sussex and the UK. Including delivering for projects such as the Tottenham Court Road Underground Upgrade.

leaky feeder

In this particular example, Wall to Wall were presented with the project and objective of achieving seamless two-way radio communications to everybody on site, particularly those who were working below ground and ensuring employees and the thousands of people commuting across this area where kept safe. The system needed to be robust, reliable and to be able to provide a multitude of channels- this is where Leaky Feeders came into play and met the criteria.

Wall to Wall provided a Digital Motorola MOTOTRBO system (Motorola DP3400, Motorola DP3600 and Motorola DP3000 repeaters) with multiple channels and Integrated telephone connectivity solution, as well as the integrated underground solution of using a leaky feeder antenna system.

Using the leaky feeder system, ensured efficiency throughout the completion of the project, provided great coverage of communication and in addition, the system also included text messaging and voice clarity features.

In conclusion, Leaky feeders provide an incredibly beneficial solution in the two-way communication world. They provide and guarantee easy communication in busy and hard to access locations. Without a doubt having one installed can benefit a company a great deal in terms of efficiency and safety.

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