Small Cell Operators

What is the Best Method for Adding Operators at Small Cell Sites?

OK, nobody really likes to share (I still have scars from the time I pushed my sister off the rocking horse), but it is understandable when sharing antennas at Small Cell Sites. Sharing Antennas involves tradeoffs that reduce network performance (reduced coverage and capacity). Especially when sharing Unlicensed Bands like CBRS and LAA. Nonetheless this is the new reality, with “Shared Infrastructure” and “Co-Location” as new buzz words for Small Cells.

So, what is the best method for adding Operators at Small Cell Sites?

The role of antenna quality in small cell and 5G deployments

Mobile network operators are densifying their network infrastructure to both meet ever-increasing data demands and to lay the groundwork for 5G.

While the importance of fiber, spectrum availability and ease of siting are often discussed in network equipment deployments, one overlooked factor is the impact that antenna quality has on the efficiency, effectiveness and total cost of ownership of such deployments.

Here are three ways that antenna quality impacts small cell deployment:

Quality antennas have fewer impairments and failures, reducing TCO. 

The worst-case scenario for antennas is complete failure, which means they must be replaced. That can delay site turn-up or require a site visit. Antenna design and manufacturing company Kathrein estimates that for a cellular network with 40,000 antennas, a 2% failure rate will cost the MNO nearly $1 million per year in site visits costs.

Short of failure, antenna quality also impacts how consistently and well an antenna performs — which directly influences user experience. Low-quality components or insufficient attention to passive intermodulation (PIM) during design and testing can mean that an antenna doesn’t perform according to the expectations of network planners, resulting in poor coverage, blocked or dropped calls or impacts to throughput, according to Dr. David Kokotoff, senior sales engineer at antenna design and manufacturing company Kathrein.

Kokotoff said that besides the extensive controlled mechanical and environmental testing in the lab, Kathrein has a number of sites around the world where it tests its antennas in challenging environmental conditions. These sites keep equipment in the field to observe what happens over years of exposure to the elements: in salt-exposed environments near the sea and in hot and humid conditions. The extensive, long-term testing, he said, contributes to improving overall reliability and keeping Kathrein’s antenna failure rate at less than 0.05%.

As antenna complexity increases, so does the importance of quality. 

Kokotoff noted that with MNOs needing support for both low- and mid-band spectrum as well as support for carrier aggregation and multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), License-Assisted Access and CBRS spectrum, the number of ports has increased: eight, ten or more ports are commonly requested. Supporting multiple bands in a small-volume base station while achieving the desired performance is no small feat, especially when proper isolation must be maintained. Rigorous PIM testing and high-quality compatible component selection also becomes important to ensure consistent antenna performance in the complex urban RF environments where small cells are most needed.

Thoughtful design features can make installation and management easier. 

Remote electrical tilt is a feature more commonly associated with macro site antennas, but Kokotoff said that Kathrein has recently introduced RET to its small cell antennas. MNOs used to think that they could avoid small cell interference through site selection, he said, but optimal sites are not always available or affordable. Features such as RET can offer MNOs the ability to tweak their small cells’ coverage and get what they need from the sites that they can most easily access.

Antenna design also needs to account for the real-world challenges of installation. Many models of light poles, for instance, have a wide base but a thin pole that make it difficult to fit all the necessary cables that need to run to the multi-port equipment placed at the top. Kathrein has tackled this via the use of diplexers internal to the antenna to minimize cable runs.

Since small cells need to be placed close to end users, aesthetics of the equipment and the ability to creatively place antennas also come into play. Kathrein has focused its efforts on “out of sight, out of mind” design for small cells, including building-corner and side-mounted options and even antennas that can be placed underground to provide street-level coverage.

Learn more about Kathrein’s antenna portfolio.

What are the True Costs for Mobile 5G mmWave Phased Array Antenna Systems?

What are the True Costs for Mobile 5G mmWave Phased Array Antenna Systems?

Mobile 5GWhen discussing future 5G systems and the need for more spectrum to accommodate the bandwidth needed for greater than 1 Gbps data rates, one of the most popular ideas is the use of the mmWave (milli-meter Wave) spectrum, with 28 GHz and 39 GHz being the prevalent frequencies in the United States. While the available bandwidth is desirable and will support the anticipated data rates, the propagation characteristics of mmWaves are equally undesirable. The propagation characteristics have high path losses and need line of sight (LOS) to overcome building penetration losses.  Both problems require high gain, narrow beam width antennas. This can be accomplished for stationary point to multi-point applications, like last mile wireless connectivity to the home. But when mobility is added, then this also needs to be a steered high gain, narrow beam (a.k.a. phased array) antenna designed to follow the paths of several mobile users.   

f15 JetDoes this technology exist? 

Yes, there are existing mmWave phased array antennas that do everything required: for example, the Fire Control Radar for the F-15E Fighter Jet, an Active Electronic Scanning Array (AESA) with beam steering with a 16 x 16 array with Power Amps (Tx) and Low Noise Amps (Rx). How much does a high gain, narrow beam width mmWave phased array antenna system like this cost? The cost of the APG-63 and APG-82 modernization upgrades for 71 F-15 fighter aircraft is $558 million (assuming no over runs).1  That is almost $8 million per AESA. 

How many antennas are required?  

Again, due to the short range due to poor propagation characteristics of mmWaves, a very dense network is needed. Possibly one phased array antenna system per city block (200 m) to accommodate 16 mobile users could be required.  Having one system per city block would be 64 per square mile and for my little town of Lafayette, Colorado (9.6 miles2) this is 614 antennas. That is almost 5 billion dollars if the current F-15 APG-82 AESA is used – a lot of money for one little town!  Of course, the mmWave phased array antenna on the average city street corner will not be subjected to the environment of an F-15 fighter aircraft and only tracks cars, not enemy fighter aircraft. But even at a fraction of the cost, having some type of phased array antennas with the density needed to provide truly mobile performance is going to be very expensive. I personally think that the hype of mmWave for 5G is outrunning the true costs of implementing mmWave phased array antenna systems for mobile applications.  

While mmWave 5G phased array antenna systems will provide the desired bandwidth, it would be wise to evaluate the true costs of such systems before jumping on the bandwagon of mmWave spectrum. Having worked on various “low cost” phased array antennas for almost 40 years, the “low cost” aspect has not yet emerged and it doesn’t appear that traditional approaches like the F-15 APG-82 are trending that direction. The most promising approaches on the horizon are software oriented. There are several companies with new software oriented methods under development for delivering cost effective phased array antennas.  However, even these disruptive technical solutions are still five to ten years out until successful deployment.  

In the near term, perhaps more can be done with existing sub-6 GHz spectrum to progress to 5G mobile data rates. Adding shared spectrum (such as 3.5 GHz) provides a more cost effective way of achieving greater than 1 Gbps data rates. Other cost effective methods would include massive MIMO (mMIMO) and advanced modulation techniques. Since the sub-6 GHz spectrum is not subject to the propagation problems of mmWaves, combining these innovative sub-6GHz solutions could be the answer for 5G mobile applications for the next five to ten years while cost effective mmWave phased array antennas are developed. 

Rick Veghte
Director of Sales Engineering, Kathrein USA

Mr. Veghte leads the Sales Engineering team at Kathrein USA and has 35+ years experience designing Antennas and RF Circuits for both Commercial and Military/Defense applications. Rick holds several patents in antenna design and received his BSEE from University of Colorado and MSEE and MBA degrees from Arizona State.

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View Kathrein USA Solutions

Spacing Out…Getting the Most out of MIMO with Proper Antenna Spacing

While “MIMO” has been a buzz word in the mobile communications industry for some time, it is only now gaining real traction and will be a key enabler as networks migrate from 4G to 5G.  Base Station Antennas are a critical component in MIMO architectures, and there is a science to proper spacing in order to achieve the highest Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) while minimizing interference and PIM. 

Let’s take a quick look at what how MIMO works, what it brings to mobile networks, and how proper antenna spacing is a key to maximizing throughput.4x4 MIMO image

A Quick Tour of MIMO

MIMO, or Multiple Input Multiple Output, utilizes multiple antennas at both the transmitter and the receiver (smartphone) to increase link reliability and spectral efficiency. Spatial Multiplexing makes it possible to transmit separate data streams from multiple antennas on the same frequencies. Signal processing hardware splits the data into multiple streams and transmits these streams using multiple antennas. The receiver then reverses this process, recreating the original data stream inside the phone. Obviously, propagation conditions between the transmitter and the receiver must be good for MIMO to work effectively.

What’s the result of all this?  MIMO increases the capacity of a cell without using more bandwidth. With 2×2 MIMO (two transmit and two receive) it is theoretically possible to double the throughput, while 4×4 MIMO can quadruple throughput. In an LTE network, the peak throughput using SISO (single input, single output) is about 100 Mbps. Utilizing 2×2 MIMO and 4×4 MIMO, throughput can ideally reach 173 Mbps and 326 Mbps, respectively. 

Mobile operators have implemented 2×2 MIMO in their LTE 4G networks for a number of years and are now beginning to deploy 4×4 MIMO to meet increased data demands.  Just last fall, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 became the world’s first 4×4 MIMO capable smartphone. The challenge with placing four antennas so close together in a phone (along with Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth antennas) is that it can cause the transmission paths to couple, limiting MIMO performance and increasing signal interference.

While handset manufacturers were busy developing smartphones with 4×4 MIMO capable antennas, antenna manufacturers, like Kathrein, were developing 4×4 MIMO ready antennas for the cell sites.  

Optimum Macro Antenna Spacing for 4×4 MIMO

A lot of research that has been done on the proper placement of 4×4 ready MIMO antennas on cell towers. When determining optimum spacing between horizontal antenna columns for 4×4 MIMO, a balance must be found between improving gain while reducing inter-sector interference (I-SI).

Mounting antennas with proper spacing helps operators achieve maximum MIMO performance by keeping the antenna pattern in the “desired” area of the sector, with minimum energy in the “undesired” area where there is higher inter-sector interference.

Sector Power Ratio Image

Measurement studies performed by Kathrein engineers at the low band shows the optimal spacing between columns to be 0.8λ (wavelengths). For perspective, at 780 MHz, one wavelength is about 15 inches. It was determined that at mid band (1.7-2.7 GHz) gain became more important than I-SI to improve 4×4 MIMO performance. Therefore, the preferred spacing between columns for the low band has been set near 0.8λ to ensure I-SI is minimized; however, the spacing at high-band in a shared aperture is chosen for improved gain, near the 1.3λ or 1.8λ spacing, (based on bands under the radome) in an attempt to minimize I-SI as well.

Kathrein Makes Antenna Spacing Easy

Antenna Bracket for side by side

2 X Panel Mounting Kit

Kathrein recently released new 4, 8 and 12 port macro antennas that are 508 mm in width.  These wider antennas support 4×4 MIMO under one radome (click to view the datasheets: 80010901, 80010964, 80010991).  Operators can mount these antennas and be 4×4 MIMO ready without worrying about spacing two separate antennas.  For 378 mm antennas, Kathrein offers 2x Panel Mounting Kits (85010103/850108) that provide pre-configured optimum spacing for 4×4 MIMO applications.

Moving Forward with MIMO

MIMO is already offering huge dividends by increasing network throughput and capacity.  Moving forward, we will see more 4×4 MIMO implementations, as well as 8×8 MIMO, and eventually 64×64 Massive MIMO as operators move into 5G and beyond.

Learn More by visiting us at MWC Americas in San Francisco, CA, September 12-14: Booth S.1042.

August’s Total Solar Eclipse Looms as Capacity Killer

On Monday, August 21, the United States will experience the first total solar eclipse to cross the country since 1918. This once-in-a-century event will create a virtual rolling blackout of cell services as it travels along it’s path, not due to the heavenly bodies but  because of the live streaming, photo-taking and subsequent ‘sharing’ done by the terrestrial ones. North American residents will be able to view a partial eclipse, but only certain areas in the U.S. will see the “Great American Eclipse,” making a diagonal cut from the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast seaboard.

“We’re expecting a good experience but there will be [peak] times where the network will struggle,” said Paula Doublin, assistant vice president of construction and engineering for AT&T. According to The Bulletin, emergency personnel are concerned with the convergence of a high population in some areas as well, including those in Central Oregon. They fear the towers won’t be able to handle the bandwidth and in the case of an emergency, 911 calls via cell phones won’t be possible. Their plan is to rely on “older” methods of communication – landlines and ham radio operators – to fill the gap.  

“We are expecting more people in our state for a special event than potentially we have ever had,” Oregon Office of Emergency Management Spokesperson Cory Grogan told The Bulletin.

Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint plan to provide portable towers in certain locations along the eclipse’s path, including Oregon, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Wyoming, and Idaho. Not all temporary tower locations are yet finalized.

According to the Daily Times, the Total Solar Eclipse will begin in Oregon (at approximately 11:35 a.m.) and cut diagonally across 14 states, hitting Missouri and Illinois at 1:15 p.m. and 1:25 p.m., respectively, and ending in South Carolina around 2:30 p.m. The best places to see the eclipse – when the moon completely blocks out the sun – is in the “path of totality,” where there will be periods of total darkness up to two minutes and 40 seconds in length. These areas happen to be in rural locations, where cell service is already spotty. And with tens of thousands to upwards of one million people expected in some areas, wireless capacity will be a challenge.

Watch the video here.

Posted with Permission from Inside Towers 8/1/17

Advanced Beamforming Transceivers and Antenna Arrays: Keys to 5G Communications?

At the June 29th IEEE luncheon in Plano, TX, Jeyanandh Paramesh, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University gave a technical presentation titled, “Advanced Multi-Antenna Transceivers for 5G Communications and Beyond.”

Professor Jeyanandh  Paramesh addressing Plano chapter of IEEE

Professor Jeyanandh Paramesh addressing Plano chapter of IEEE

Professor Paramesh and his team of researchers believe that directional communications using antenna arrays will be a centerpiece of next-generation communication systems in the sub-6 GHz bands and in the millimeter-wave bands. While today there are highly integrated phased-array transceivers that support steering the main beam of the antenna array pattern, the university is testing adaptive null-steering, spatial equalization, interference mitigation and various forms of multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) communication to see if they can achieve increased data rates, network capacity, and better interference management. Their recent work includes testing advanced beamforming transceivers that can support multi-antenna signal processing; specifically, the design of phased arrays that can address very wide swaths of mm-wave spectrum, and the design of hybrid beamformers that can support millimeter-wave MIMO communication.

As an innovation and technology leader in the connected world, Kathrein is already bringing “future proof” macro and small antennas to market that allow for many configurations of MIMO as 5G standards are still being worked out. It’s latest wide band sub-6 GHz canister antenna supports 2, 3.5, and 5.8 GHz as operators look to shared spectrum to provide increased bandwidth to subscribers. Kathrein believes that mobile communication networks will also have to meet new demands in such areas as Industry 4.0, Internet of Things (IoT) or Connected Car.

So Many Ground-Breaking Ideas Were Created on a Cocktail Napkin

The Gettysburg Address, The Space Needle, Harry Potter, Southwest Airlines, great Beatles’ songs, Kathrein Canister Antennas – What do these all have in common?  Well, the title gives it away- they all had their start with brilliant people brainstorming and sketching on cocktail napkins!

Kathrein just released the latest in a long line of canister small cell antennas.  The Ultra-High Band, 10 port omni canister antenna 84010555 supports 2, 3.5, and 5.8 GHz frequencies, and provide operators and neutral hosts with a small cell solution that is future ready (more on this later).  Let’s first explore a brief history of canister antennas and how Kathrein set the standard for innovation and aesthetics.

napkin sketch of original Kathrein canister antenna2004: The Canister Makes its Debut

In wireless years, 2004 was an eternity ago, but that is when ExteNet Sytems approached Kathrein about building a DAS (distributed antenna system).  At a quaint restaurant in Medford, Oregon, Kathrein’s Rick Veghte and Jim Dekoekkoek (both engineers) sat with Tormod Larsen, CTO from ExteNet Systems, and came up with the original sketch and plans for a brown canister, quasi-omni antenna.

They used internal parts from existing Kathrein panel antennas, while outsourcing the high quality, fiberglass radomes from a local manufacturer.  The initial concerns were that the nuls would be too deepkathrein canister antennas and that there would be a lot of multipaths.  Rick and Jim went to work designing the prototype, and were pleased that the canister achieved the stringent electrical performance that both companies expected.  Manufacturing began within a couple months.

The original canister had 4 ports (2 high-band, 2 low-band).  In 2010, Kathrein began selling canisters to operators as small cell antenna solutions. Due to the compact design, the canisters fit perfectly on telephone and utility poles, and blended into the environment.  Since then, Kathrein has continued to add ports and extend frequencies while trying to maintain the same form factor. Due to sheer physics this is not an easy engineering feat. 

2017 and Beyond – The Race to Gigabit Data Speeds/5G

While a widely accepted definition of 5G is still being worked out, there is a race among operators to deliver gigabit data speeds, and claim that they are the first to offer “5G”.  The current macro system won’t allow for this kind of speed.  Operators will need to tap into shared spectrum – 3.5 GHz and 5 GHz bands (Ultra High-Band) so they can stitch together enough spectrum (carrier aggregation) to offer gigabit speeds to subscribers.  There are of course challenges with unlicensed bands (wi-fi) in that they are often crowded and have rules of usage, such as “listen before talk.”

In response to market demands, Kathrein has just released two new canister antennas: the 84010555 (brown) and 84010556 (grey) are the solution for operators that want to tap into ultra-high band frequencies as they prep for 5G. Kathrein canister antennas

The new Kathrein canisters:

  • Support 2, 3.5, and 5.8 GHz
  • Utilize the same form factor: no rezoning required
  • Support 4×4 and 2×2 MIMO
  • Support 4 ports at 1695-2690 GHz, 4 ports at 3.5 GHz, and 2 ports at 5.8 GHz

Kathrein Canister Antennas have a long history of industry leading innovation, quality, and performance.  The latest ultra-high band canisters can easily replace existing canisters, providing operators with a future proof small cell solution in the race to 5G. 

To learn more, visit our Small Cell Solutions page.


Watch our Small Cell Solutions Video

Wind Load-Schmind Load – Why Kathrein’s Updated Wind Load Values Impact Your Bottom Line


Wireless tower structures are going through a bit of an overhaul as mobile operators move to densify their networks and keep up with subscriber demands.  As coverage and capacity needs continue to soar, operators are deploying increasingly more infrastructure – specifically higher port base station antennas, small cells, fiber connections, and specialized mounts.  All this equipment adds load to the towers, not only due to their size but also in regard to dynamic loading caused by wind. The result is towers are reaching their limits in terms of load capacity. Therefore, understanding the impact of wind loading is critical to your tower design choices and resultant affects to lease costs and ultimately your bottom line. 

Until recently, comparing wind load values between manufacturers was not an apples to apples exercise.  It could be confusing at best.  Even though most manufacturers  “adhered” to the EN 1991-1-4 standard, the procedures were not uniform or even conducted with the same wind speeds.  In early 2016, with Kathrein’s leadership in the NGMN working group, antenna manufacturers developed a methodology for calculating wind load values consistently and accurately with the goal of implementing into future revisions of the BASTA standard. As a result, it will be easier for mobile operators to accurately compare values when evaluating antenna selection and the impact to their networks.   

So what is wind load and how do wind load factors impact the densification of your network? What is the methodology for calculating wind load, and how does this impact your bottom line?  We explain why and how Kathrein is reporting dramatically reduced wind load values.

What is Wind Loading?

Wind loading is a measurement of the force or drag that wind causes when blowing against a tower mounted antenna.  Manufacturers report both frontal and maximum wind load values for every antenna they make.  Wind load values are represented as XXXX N where the N represents a Newton (which is one kilogram meter per second squared).  The U.S. measurement is listed in pounds of force (lbf). Think of an antenna on a tower as a sail on a ship.  The size and shape of the antenna affects how much wind drag that antenna places on the tower structure.   As with golf, a lower number is a very good thing.

In the mid 2000’s, the European Standard for Wind Load Calculations was updated with the introduction of the EN 1991-1-4 standard.  Like other antenna manufacturers, Kathrein bases its wind load reporting on this standard.  Until the BASTA meetings in 2016, Kathrein had been very conservative with its reported wind load values.  After the meetings with other leading manufacturers concerning the testing and reporting of wind load values, Kathrein has revised wind load calculations and values based on the latest, more accurate methodology.  

What Changed?

Antennas are not perfect rectangles, and wind doesn’t always hit a base station antenna straight on (orthogonally). Taking these facts into consideration, new calculations are being used in compliance with the standard based on an antenna body with a rectangular cross section with rounded-off corners.  Wind tunnel tests have shown that the results obtained from previous calculations, based on the standard, are considerably higher than the real wind loads.

Since it’s too expensive to test every antenna in a wind tunnel, manufacturers report wind load values based on the standard formula: Fw = cf ∙ Aref ∙ qp, where the wind load, Fw, is the product of the force coefficient, cf, the projected area Aref (m2), and the dynamic pressure qp (N/m2). 

While the formula remains the same, the change is in how the force coefficient, cf, is calculated.  It now includes a radius reduction factor, Ψr , that accounts for antenna cross sections with rounded edges- which are more aerodynamic. The more favorable the shape for the airflow, the smaller this value.  As for wind speed, manufacturers have agreed to test wind load at 93 mph (150 km/h).

The bottom line: the new method of calculating wind load has proven to more accurately reflect real world wind conditions and antenna body characteristics, resulting in trustworthy wind loading values that can be calculated without the need for further wind tunnel testing.

Kathrein’s Updated Results:

Due to the radiation-optimized shape of Kathrein’s base station antennas, the revised wind load calculations show reductions from 5% – 40% or more across the board, proving that Kathrein’s previously documented wind load values were far too conservative.

Here is a sampling of the results:

Wind load of 80010865, 6-Port Antenna (377mm wide):

  • using the original method:           Maximum 1210 N (272 lbf) | Frontal 1160 N (260 lbf)| 
  • using the improved method:       Maximum   730 N (164 lbf) | Frontal   630 N (142 lbf)|
  • 46% reduction in frontal, 40% reduction in Maximum Wind Load Specification 

Wind load of 80010965, 8-Port Antenna (508mm wide):

  • using the original method:           Maximum 1650N (371 lbf) | Frontal 1270N (186 lbf) | 
  • using the improved method:       Maximum 1140N (256 lbf) | Frontal  1130N (254 lbf)
  • 11% reduction in frontal, 31% reduction in Maximum Wind Load Specification

To confirm the revised wind load calculations, third party tests were carried out in the wind tunnel at Dresden University.  Not only did they confirm the new results, but showed that the frontal and maximum wind load values are the most important for describing the behavior of an antenna in the wind flow.  

If you would like more information on Kathrein’s wind load results, and a complete list of wind load values for all current base station antennas, go to

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you… for the Awards and that the 2016 Wireless Tradeshow Circuit is Over!

After many miles traveled, as well as countless handshakes and customer meetings, we are done with the tradeshow circuit (circus) for 2016! We hit it hard in 2015/2016 with the need to educate and establish Kathrein’s long history of RF expertise as relevant and important to the North American wireless market. With our global headquarters in Rosenheim, Germany, we, in the past, might have been accused of being “Eurocentric”- with our product innovation and availability.  However, all that has changed with our new U.S. leadership team, the move of our North American HQs to Richardson, Texas, and the recent opening of an R&D/Logistics center in Plano, Texas. The Dallas Business Journal did a fantastic write-up of the ribbon cutting that took place October 4, 2016 (click here for the full article).  We celebrated in German-style the opening of the 35,000 square foot space with the Tech Titans and the Richardson and Plano Chambers of Commerce.  The event would not have been complete without German beers, pretzels, and sausages.  Yum!



A German celebration wouldn’t be complete without Bier!


It was a busy past month and half: we attended, spoke on panels, and exhibited at HetNet Expo in Houston, then Small Cells Americas in Dallas; and two short weeks later, the 5G North America show – again in our backyard in Dallas, TX. Kathrein was proud to sponsor Antenna Focus Day at 5G North America – it is a welcome chance to discuss and drill down into the trends and new technologies in antenna innovation. 5G, millimeter wave, and small cells, which dominated the discussions. 


Vicki Livingston, from 5G Americas, moderated a panel that included Jim Nevelle (Kathrein), Bo Piekarski (Crown Castle), and Ray Butler (Commscope)nov-16-5

Our friends Jeff and Doug from Verticom, and Lindsay Franklin from RCR Wireless


Jonathan Adelstein’s opening keynote at the Royal Sonesta, Houston Galleria.  


The hottest topic at all three shows was, no surprise here, Small Cells – something Kathrein has been developing and deploying for over 10 years.  Discussions were all relative to realizing the vision of “5G” – ultra-dense networks and pervasive wireless cellular connectivity – all which will require massive network builds, streamlined deployment models, and realistic regulations.

Kathrein recently published a white paper on Small Cells and how they will play a role in Connected Cities (you can find the full report here).  We also often discuss the merits of Electrical Downtilt vs. Small Cell Intelligent Site Placement with RF design teams around the country.  You can find our engineering recommendations here.

Lastly, as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, we want to give thanks to our customers and truly appreciate the recognition for innovation we have received for the Kathrein Street Connect™ in 2016.  Just this week, Kathrein won top honors for the Fierce Awards: Telecom Edition with our new In-Ground Antenna. We were honored to win the “Small Cells/HetNet Category”, as well as “Best Network Transformation Platform” and “Judges Choice” Award. Winning the Judges Choice award is the highest honor, as it is awarded to only one 2016 standout innovative product or service that most likely, positively, and dramatically affects service provider networks across the board. Kathrein is grateful and we thank the esteemed judges.



Kathrein Street Connect also took home the honors at the RAN World Awards 2016 and the GLOTEL Awards 2016.


Joachim Grimm (Kathrein) and Carine Genoud (Swisscom) accept the award for Kathrein Street Connect at the GLOTEL Awards in London


We would also like to recognize and thank our friends at Swisscom for the brilliant idea of Kathrein Street Connect™.  They have been a terrific partner and customer.  A special thanks to Nima Jamaly and Marcus Bergagard for all of their support.

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!


Dr. Dave (Kathrein), Kevin Linehan (Commscope) and Joe Madden (Mobile Experts) discussing 5G at Antenna Focus Day 2016


Bill Jauchler (Kathrein) and Jay Brown (President-Crown Castle) at HetNet Expo 2016



Stefan Kohl (Kathrein) and Joe Madden (Mobile Experts) discussing lessons learned from 4G deployments and what to expect in antenna technologies for 5G



































Don’t Let Subpar Antenna Quality Hurt Your Bottom Line

antenna quality cover image

Subpar Antenna Quality Weakens Network Performance

Mobile operators have spent billions of dollars both building and making improvements to their ever expanding wireless networks.  While each component plays a significant role in the efficiency of the network, the performance of the antennas deployed within the network can serve as a key factor of network capacity. Poorly designed antennas can cause major interference, limiting traffic capacity and maximum throughput.     

subpar quality weakensOften times, operators are more concerned with the quality of the radios than the quality of the antennas.  Buying the lowest priced antenna may seem like cost savings up front, but in the long run, lower quality antennas will have higher failure rates.  Higher failure rates mean more site visits, with each visit conservatively costing between $1200-$3000.  If you are an operator with 40,000 antennas, an antenna failure rate of just 2% can cost you $960,000 per year (based on 800 site visits).      


Network with 40000 antennas failure rate 2%Superior Antenna Quality Reduces Operator Costs 

The typical cost of antennas is less than 5% of the total cost of a tower site, yet they have a major impact on the overall performance of the network.With the growing customer demand for data and the increasing cost of upgrading the wireless infrastructure, it’s natural for operators to trim costs wherever they can.  Once again, service providers need to be cautious in deciding where to cut costs to ensure revenue won’t be lost in the long run.  

When it comes to antenna quality, the key for operators is to focus on the big picture. An upfront investment in antennas of the highest quality will mean a lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) over the life of the product as well as higher customer service levels, lower churn rates, and a stronger reputation for service quality, resulting in higher total revenue.

reduce cost imageCase in Point: Operator Switches to Kathrein Antennas and Sees Big Gains

In San Diego, California, one of the big four U.S. wireless operators decided to deploy antennas from a “cost effective” telecommunications equipment maker, over Kathrein.  However, they would soon realize that cheaper isn’t always better.  Upon making the switch from Kathrein’s dual-band antennas to the other manufacturer’s Hex Port antennas, the carrier experienced some alarming issues with PIM (passive intermodulation), as well as both accessibility and retainability (blocked and dropped calls).

After quickly making the decision to switch back to a higher quality unit made by Kathrein, BTS (Base Transceiver Station) statistics drastically improved  The downlink throughput improved by nearly 40%, from an average of 5 mbps to an average of 7 mbps. The service provider also saw an improvement in customer satisfaction, with far fewer dropped and blocked calls.

Subpar Antenna Quality can Result in Customer Churn

Subpar Antennas not only degrade network performance and increase costs, but can lead to lost revenue due to customer churn.   When considering lost revenue alone, a the cost of subscriber churnsingle operator with a subscriber base of 120 million customers and an annual churn rate of 12% is estimated to lose $5.27 billion dollars per year.  This does not take into account the cost of acquiring a new customer to replace those lost, which could nearly double the lost revenue each year for wireless carriers. Additionally, defecting customers can further damage the brand’s value through word of mouth by telling friends, family, and social media followers about their bad experiences, resulting in an immeasurable loss of potential future earnings. 

Kathrein’s commitment to innovation and quality allows operators peace of mind and lower TCO as they continue to expand their networks on the road to 5G.


To learn more, click here to download the whitepaper The Role of Antenna Quality in Meeting Mobile Data Demand