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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.

 

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