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 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.

2004: 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 deep 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. 

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 http://www.kathreinusa.com/wind-load/

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!

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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. 

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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

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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.

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

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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!

nov-16-9

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

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

 

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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 

 

 

 

The Mobile Carriers Show 2016: Benefitting Both the Wireless Industry AND the Local Community

Music City Center, Nashville, TN- Home of the MCA Show 2016

The Focus: Smart Strategies, Technology Innovations, and Business Opportunities

It’s hard to find a Wireless Event that benefits industry participants and the local community, but that is exactly what made the CCA (Competitive Carrier Association’s) Mobile Carriers Show 2016 a complete success.  The show was held in downtown Nashville, TN at the Music City Center. It’s the only North America Wireless event to focus exclusively on Smart Strategies, Technology Innovations, and Business Opportunities for carriers.  With over 100 carriers in attendance, representing over 100 million customers, it was a great opportunity for Kathrein to network with key carriers and discuss the best ways of meeting their needs, as well as their customers, in this ever changing industry.

The conference sessions centered on 5G, IoT, Small Cells and bridging Cellular Networks with the benefits of WiFi Access Points.  One of the highlights of the show was the Volunteer Day, which presented a great opportunity for attendees to roll-up their sleeves and work side-by-side with friends (new and old), peers, competitors, and most importantly, to give back to the Nashville community.

It’s All About the Kids

This year’s event was for the benefit of the [http://napieres.mnps.org/pages/Napier_Enhanced_Option] Napier Elementary School in downtown Nashville.  Located in the center of a low income area, the school serves as a “Safe Zone” not only for the students, but also for the surrounding community, a multi-generational poverty/99% minority population.  During his introductory comments, Steve Berry, President/CEO of CCA, explained that through volunteer donations and CCA funding, a total of $10,000 was donated to Napier Elementary School.  It would have taken many months of applying for grant money to accomplish what the volunteers were able to complete in a single day.  Activities included:

  • Mulching around trees, shrubs, the playground area and the entrance to the school
  • Painting the gym equipment in playground area
  • Stenciling and painting basketball court lines, number learning games such as Hopscotch and Four-Square
  • Building a 3-D Learning Tree for the school’s front entrance interior
  • Assembling Word Books (enabling every student to issued their own book of core words)
Front Entrance to Napier Elementary School

Volunteers arrriving at Napier Elementary School- Nashville, TN

 

Jay Clark, Regional Sales Rep for Kathrein, shoveled and hauled mulch and assisted with refurbishing the basketball court.  “We even got creative and added an “N” at the center of the basketball court.  With some engineers present, it was a perfect design…” Once the outdoor projects were completed, Jay joined in on the Word Book assembly that took place in the cafeteria, all to the beat of Johnny Cash cranking on a boom box.

Congratulations to Steve Berry and the CCA staff, fellow volunteers, and the students, families and staff of Napier Elementary.   The show not only was very well received by the companies attending, but made a powerful impact on Napier Elementary School, in the heart of Nashville.

 

 

 

 

Steve Berry gives donation check for 10k to Napier Elementary

Steve Berry, President & CEO of CCA presenting Napier Elementary School with $10K donation

Volunteering at Napier Elementary School

MCA Volunteers at Napier Elementary School

Adding the N to the basketball court

Adding the “N” to the basketball court

 

 

It’s Showtime: Broadcasters, Bidders and Equipment Vendors Prepare for 600 MHz Auction

Salt Lake City Kathrein broadcast antenna installation site

TV station owners are keeping teams of lawyers and bankers busy as they evaluate their opportunities in the government’s upcoming 600 MHz spectrum auction. It’s a show well worth watching, because those opportunities will find their way to tower companies and equipment vendors soon enough.

The 600 MHz auction, also called the broadcast incentive auction, is a way to move low-band spectrum into the hands of those who value it most, the mobile network operators. The Federal Communications Commission will act as the middleman, buying the spectrum from TV broadcasters and reselling it to mobile operators. Net proceeds from the broadcast incentive auction will be used to fund public safety networks and to reduce the U.S. federal deficit.

FCC Broadcast Incentive Auction

 

 

 

Broadcasters who choose to participate in the auction have three choices: they can relinquish their spectrum and go off the air, they can relinquish spectrum and start sharing another station’s channel, or they can relinquish spectrum and start broadcasting on a different channel assigned by the FCC. Station owners have already told the FCC whether they will participate in the auction, and whether or not they plan to share a channel with another licensee after the auction.

Each local market will have a reverse auction and a forward auction. In the reverse auction, the FCC will set an opening bid. This bid is the maximum amount at which the government is willing to buy spectrum in that market. Stations will tell the FCC whether they would be willing to sell at that price. Then the agency will offer a lower price, and will note how many stations remain willing sellers at the lower price. The FCC will keep lowering the price until no stations indicate interest.

Next the forward auction will begin. Based on the input it received from the broadcasters, the FCC will set an opening price in each market and see how many bidders would be willing to buy spectrum at that price. The agency will adjust the price upward until it strikes a balance between supply and demand, and then it will finalize the sales price.

Once the sales are finalized the repacking process begins, and with it the opportunities for antenna vendors and tower crews. The FCC will repack full power and Class A TV stations that remain on the air so that they occupy a smaller portion of the UHF band. Congress has earmarked $1.75 billion for repacking, and some broadcasters think it could cost even more.

One thing is clear: many broadcasters will need to change the antennas on their towers because different antennas support different frequency bands. The 54-88 MHz bands support channels 2-6 in the United States, the 174 - 216 MHz bands support channels 7-13, and the 470-698 MHz bands support channels 14-51. The channels above 37 are set to go away as the spectrum is transferred to mobile operators. So antennas supporting frequency bands above 613 MHz may no longer be needed by broadcasters, and new antennas may be needed to support the lower bands.

Broadcast Antennas are a “Different Animal”

Broadcast antennas are much larger than cellular antennas, and have been described by the National Association of Tower Erectors as a “whole different animal” compared to cellular antennas. Kathrein is one of a handful of companies that makes these antennas, as several manufacturers left the market when the broadcast television market slowed down.

Now that construction activity on TV towers is set to pick up again, tower crews and antenna makers alike will need to be ready. Broadcast towers are among the tallest structures in the United States, and transporting massive antennas to the tops of these towers is complex and potentially dangerous work.

Not all the new broadcast antennas deployed as part of the repacking process will be placed on tower tops or side-mounted. Skyscrapers in most major U.S. cities support broadcast antennas as well.

The Biggest Repacking Process Challenge: The Schedule

Perhaps the most challenging part of the repacking process will be the schedule. The FCC plans to give repacked stations 39 months to migrate to new spectrum. Three years and 3 months is not long enough, according to industry veterans inside and outside the broadcasting business.

AT&T has questioned the 39-month time frame, and the National Association of Broadcasters has lobbied for more time. While 39 months might be enough time for a station to successfully clear its spectrum, there is concern that a shortage of trained workers will mean that some stations will have to wait. An even more serious concern is that the deadline pressure will prompt crews to send inadequately trained workers onto towers, jeopardizing their safety.

The National Association of Broadcasters estimates that 445 TV stations could successfully be repacked within a 39-month timeframe. But the trade association projects that 850-1,150 stations may need to move to new frequency bands.

The FCC may have to adjust its timeline once it knows how many stations will actually be moving to new bands. These numbers will start to emerge once the 600 MHz show hits the road in cities all over America. The reverse auctions are set to begin March 29.

Visit Kathrein at the NAB Show

Kathrein will be exhibiting the latest in Broadcast Antenna Solutions at the upcoming NAB show in April. Click here for a free pass or schedule an appointment with us at the show. See you in Vegas baby!

 

 

Kathrein USA Meets Austin, Texas

It has been a busy start of the year for Kathrein USA with the Verizon IBTUF Event and the Kathrein USA Quarterly Sales Meeting both taking place in awesome Austin Texas, the “Live Music Capital of the World”  -  nice change of pace from the usual Las Vegas craziness for tradeshows.  The two events also had a common theme:  How to Meet the Challenge of Growing Mobile Data Usage by Supplying Strategic Solutions (such as Kathrein USA’s antenna and filter products).

Kathrein USA’s Inaugural IBTUF 

It was Kathrein USA’s first time attending IBTUF (In Building Technical Users Forum), and the tenth IBTUF hosted by Verizon Wireless.  It was an unqualified success, as this Verizon specific show had exhibits and technical presentations on par with the best industry tradeshows. 

The Kathrein booth was not the only one featuring Kathrein antennas- ConcealFab, located down the hall, also featured Kathrein antennas with the ConcealFab enclosures designed for Passive Intermodulation (PIM) performance and mechanical integrity – a great fit for Kathrein’s antennas and filters.   

There were numerous discussion opportunities among vendors around the best way to combine complementary products for Verizon’s  densification initiatives.  As an example, CablCon provided an immediate “consultation’ for new jumpers with 4.3-10 DIN connectors that Kathrein needed for a Verizon trial in Detroit the following week. 

KUSA booth at IBTUF

Kathrein USA’s booth at IBTUF

Of all of the IBTUF presentations, a favorite was “Spectrum – Where are We? Where are we Headed?” with Scott Townley, Fellow, Network Technology, RF Technology Planning, Verizon.  Scott gave indications of future directions of the Verizon network and what Verizon vendors need to do to meet those needs.  Starting with the fact that mobile data usage will increase fivefold over the next five years, Scott showed the need for network densification to properly handle this increasing data demand.

Scott went on to reveal the “densest square mile” in various cities requiring network densification – Western US cities that many in the audience believed to be quite spread out, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Seattle and Denver. According to Scott Townley, “Microcell is happening” almost everywhere (not just in the biggest cities).  Kathrein’s new small cell antennas and filter solutions fit nicely with this widespread need for network densification.

Scott Townley presentation for IBTUF

Scott Townley- Spectrum Presentation: IBTUF

 

RF solution providers, such as Kathrein USA, were very interested in Tom Bell’s (Anritsu) presentation that made a clear case for the importance of improving PIM, as more carriers are added at each site as network densification occurs.   Tom pointed out additional challenges, such as Intermodulation products derived from the new FirstNet spectrum, that will be added for public safety considerations in future network designs.  Again, Kathrein is leading the way with PIM performance by constantly improving manufacturing techniques and using components like the 4.3-10 DIN connector (all of which Kathrein tests extensively in the lab and in the field before deploying).  To view a video explaining how Kathrein solves PIM issues with the 4.3-10 connector, click here.

Austin- The Perfect Place for a Quarterly Sales Meeting

After IBTUF, Kathrein USA remained in Austin to kick off 2016 with our Annual Sales Meeting.  This continued the theme of Kathrein USA supporting the wireless industry with new products to provide solutions for increased mobile traffic needs in the coming years.  Kathrein’s innovative Product Roadmap, with new small cell antennas alongside existing macro and higher port size antennas, fits the bill for the densification of networks.    

The Sales Meeting included the Executive team, Regional Sales Managers, Marketing, Technical Support, Sales Engineering and Customer Service; employees from all over the United States and Rosenheim, Germany.  One of the most anticipated sessions was Stefan Kohl’s Kathrein Product Roadmap.  Mr. Kohl,  Kathrein Germany’s Head of Sales for Mobile Communications, laid out an exciting plan for new solutions and updates to existing solutions. 

Stefan Kohl at KUSA sales meeting

Stefan Kohl, Head of Sales-Mobile Communications, Kathrein

For the Small Cell and oDAS antenna products, there are many new developments for existing antenna designs.  Kathrein’s lineup of Slim Pole antennas, Smart Pipe antennas, “Super” Canister antennas, F-Panel antennas and the new Kathrein Street Connect antenna all have product enhancements in 2016.  The classic Canister antenna is now going into production with extended high band frequencies to extend performance to 2690 MHz.  There are also plans to extend the Slim Pole and Smart Pipe antennas to the lower frequency bands.  The latest Kathrein Street Connect antenna system provides a great solution for difficult zoning situations and will be deployed in the United States this year after successful trials in Switzerland.  The current version of these antennas can be viewed in the Kathrein Catalog.  Kathrein has also continued research and development on their line of Filter products to support and supplement the antenna products. 

Concurrently, Kathrein development proceeds full steam ahead with its roster of macro cell antennas featuring 8-port, 10-port and 12-port antennas, as well as improvements to existing antennas (e.g. starting preparation for the 600 MHz auction).   Kathrein macro cell antennas, with increasing numbers of ports, allow for increased network data requirements in their own way by increasing the spectrum possibilities and carrier aggregation. Again, Kathrein Filter products play an important role in providing a complete system solution. 

At Kathrein USA, the motto is “Work Hard, Play Hard”, so after a full day of informative presentations and meetings, the team enjoyed an evening of “Top Golf”, regardless of their golfing ability. 

KUSA employees at Austin capital building

KUSA Executives, Sales, Engineering, and Marketing teams at the Texas State Capital in Austin

top golf montage

Ron Zielke, KUSA CFO and longtime employee takes his golf seriously, Cisco Ortiz, Sales Engineer and newest KUSA employee, not so much. Scott Nagel, Content Marketing Manager, perfecting his Dr. Jekyl jelly filled donut.

 

 

Both the Verizon Wireless IBTUF and the Kathrein USA Communications Sales Meeting highlighted the importance of Kathrein providing new antenna and filter solutions for the ever increasing mobile data demand in 2016 and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Holidays: A Time to be Thankful for Innovation

“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”  Theodore Levitt

We get so busy this time of year, but we want to take a moment to reflect on the technological breakthroughs that we’ve seen in such a short amount of time.  As consumers, so many of the gifts we give include the latest technology innovations (new phones, electric cars, not to mention all the toys.)  We all seem to have the “need for speed,” and that will continue to fuel our wireless industry.  But let’s take a moment to think back to how things were not that long ago, and how innovation has drastically changed our lives.

You Can Never Go Back!

Can you imagine going back to the cellular days when you paid roaming fees when you left the state?  We counted every minute we were on the phone and every text message we sent… there were no unlimited plans!  And the signal was analog- we actually heard noise and static! Remember when 56K was about the fastest internet speed you could get at home?  In the late 90s, you could have a BRI circuit installed and have 128K of bandwidth- speed that made the neighbors jealous (but was quite expensive).

How about the days before USB and HDMI?  Cables had a million pins in them and you had to worry about port availability and setting dip switches to add peripheral devices to your computer. Your choice of connections? Parallel or serial.

Before the days of LTE and even 3G, webpages took at least 30 seconds to render on smartphones… and that was impressive in 2007!  Today, we would throw our phone away if web pages took that long to view.

Continual Innovation is Critical on “the Road” to 5G

Theodore Levitt once said, “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” Just last week Kathrein introduced Street Connect:  a new, literally ground-breaking solution that is not only turning heads, but turning the antenna industry upside down.

Kathrein announces

Kathrein’s Street Connect Antenna

Building on a legacy of 100 years of quality and innovation, Kathrein has created an in-ground microcell antenna system in which the base station is incorporated into what appears as a typical manhole cover. It has been specially designed for ease of deployment and to withstand weather, road vibration, and heavy road cargo weight.

Street Connect is the ideal solution for congested cities and urban hotspots and it resolves cumbersome zoning restrictions and site acquisition issues because the antenna is deployed in the ground. Thorough testing and site trials in conjunction with Swisscom have proven the safety and effectiveness of Street Connect in even the most adverse conditions and situations. As an example, Street Connect tests well below SAR thresholds and still performs if the antenna is covered by a parked vehicle or truck.

To learn more, please email us at [email protected] or click here for our recent announcement. 

Happy Holidays from Kathrein!

It’s fun to look back and wonder how we could have possibly survived in the early days of computers and wireless technology. Yet there’s no doubt we will look back at 2015 someday and wonder how we made it with the technology of today.   It takes innovative leaders and companies to bring about the amazing technology we see today.  And at Kathrein, the innovation continues.  We wish you and your families a very safe and relaxing holiday season and a prosperous New Year in 2016!

Winding Down the Year with Wireless – the Tradeshow Circuit 2015 Comes to a Close

By Capriccio Martin

It’s been a whirlwind event schedule for the past few months – especially for Kathrein, as we continue to amp up our presence at industry events.  As the oldest antenna manufacturer in the world, we feel it’s our job to share much of what has been learned over the past 100 years and translate that into our vision for 5G, massive MIMO, sectorization, concealment, mmWave, and other antenna innovations. 

We had the pleasure to attend LTE North America this week in Big D – it was a good show and we like that it is in our “backyard”.  It’s a notable industry event in that the organizers do a nice job in bringing in top notch speakers from AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Telus, Sasktel and key analysts from 451 Research, iGR, Senza Fili, and Mobile Experts.

Ken Rehbehn, 451 Research, Moderator of Antenna Evolution Day at LTE North America

Ken Rehbehn, 451 Research, Moderator of Antenna Evolution Day at LTE North America

One resounding message from the Antenna Evolution Focus Day was the importance of Antenna quality in LTE and soon 5G networks.  LTE KPI’s are more stringent than 3GPP and we anticipate 5G to take things even a step further.  Be on the lookout for a new whitepaper from Kathrein that will discuss this topic in more detail.

At the show, the 5G tracks seemed to bring in the biggest audiences from what we observed and it was nice to see big interest in Public Safety as well.  Ken Rehbehn, analyst at 451 Research, as well as a fire fighter himself, tweeted eight times during the presentation from Jeff Bratcher, Acting CTO for FirstNet. It was a fantastic overview on the progress FirstNet has made.  Here’s a few key takeaways:

Acting CTO FirstNet, Jeff Bratcher

Acting CTO FirstNet, Jeff Bratcher

  1. FirstNet has $6.5 Billion to offset network costs. Cannot go back to Congress to ask for more money.
  2. There is excess capacity in the 20MHz of Band 14 and will commecialize the leftover spectrum.
  3. There are 5 Early Builder Projects and all have a Spectrum Lease Agreement (SMLA) with FirstNet: Texas, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New Mexico, Colorado.
  4. FirstNet has close ties with other countries’ public safety plans – specifically in the UK and South Korea. South Korea is pushing voice the fastest.
  5. There will be a single “awardee” to build out and manage the core network, but will incorporate teaming agreements for national, regional, and rural providers.

FirstNet Public Private Partnership Value DistributionEarly Builder Band 14 Projects from FirstNet

Recent Board Decisions Chart from FirstNet

Another recent industry event where Kathrein had the pleasure to attend, speak, and exhibit was HetNet Expo in sunny Los Angeles this past October.  As always, Tracy Ford at PCIA does an excellent job of representing the entire HetNet ecosystem via the topics and speakers. Our favorite presenter hands down was the well-spoken Marc Ganzi, CEO of Digital Bridge (which just closed on the acquisition of ExteNet Systems).  He was bullish on the industry as a whole and seemed particularly jazzed about Small Cells over the next few years. Watch here.

Marc Ganzi, CEO of Digital Bridge, shares his views of the Bandwidth Delivery Model

Marc shared his views of the Bandwidth Delivery Model and noted:

  1. We need to be creative in our 5G site offerings – multiple forms of “Site Solutions”.
  2. Need to account for MIMO in the future.
  3. CRAN and SDN are part of the future network.
  4. “Owning” the network elements and delivery is critical.
  5. “Spectral efficiencies will be where the battle will be won or lost” – efficiencies in radios, battery life, and devices.
  6. Need more Sites – Macro, Small Cell, DAS, Wi-Fi Offload.
  7. Densify and fortify the network with Small Cells – underlay networks.
  8. Wi-Fi is not going away, not a disrupter.
  9. Distributed Network Services (DNS as he calls it – not DAS) – 74,000 Active Nodes in 2014.
  10. Indoor DNS Market will grow to 12,000 locations and 133,000 nodes by 2020.

Kathrein booth at HetNet Expo 2015

We had the honor of presenting on the public safety panel at HetNet Expo 2015 that was moderated by Sandra Wendelken. Panelists were Mel Samples of CADSTAR, Ken Baker of the University of Colorado-Boulder, Jim Nevelle of Kathrein and Battalion Chief Kevin Nida of the Los Angeles Fire Department. 

HetNet Expo 2015 Public Safety Panel

Click here to watch the panel (in segments):

https://youtu.be/oBe_84HZlqM

https://youtu.be/Orunmbf7nyM

We will be sharing more in the coming months including more on Antenna evolution strategies, Multi-band Antennas, Small Cells, and the Importance of the Quality of the Network. Until then, we would like to hear from you.  Your thoughts as we wind down the wireless tradeshow circuit of 2015?