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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.

Innovation Award For Kathrein Street Connect

Kathrein wins Ranny Award

PRESS RELEASE

Innovation Award for Kathrein Street Connect

Rosenheim/Dusseldorf, 28 September 2016 – Kathrein Street Connect, an innovative solution for mobile communication, was honored as “best new technology” at the RAN World 2016 in Dusseldorf. Kathrein developed the innovative system for mobile coverage in inner cities in collaboration with Swisscom, Switzerland’s leading telecom provider.  Kathrein Street Connect is an in-ground antenna system that enhances mobile capacity at hotspots with high data traffic. In Switzerland, the antennas are already in operation in Bern, Zurich, Basel, and Lausanne, and test series are being run in more countries.

The original concept of a ground-integrated antenna comes from Swisscom. Kathrein Street Connect is embedded into the ground in the immediate vicinity of a base station by way of a ground bore and is not visible. The solution provides the mobile network at highly frequented hotspots such as pedestrian zones or stadiums with powerful micro cells to offer high data rates to customers.

“Kathrein Street Connect is an extremely clever solution which blends in perfectly with the surrounding area,” explains Dr. Hermann Rodler, SVP Products Business Unit at Kathrein. Its special bracket makes the antenna resistant to vibrations. The lid above the antenna is extremely sturdy so that the system can also be used in streets with heavy goods vehicle traffic, with weights of up to 40 tonnes. MIMO-capability (“Multiple Input Multiple Output”) enables the simultaneous use of several transmission and reception antennas.

“Together with our development partner Kathrein, we turned a simple idea into a pioneering innovation. We are very proud that our good teamwork was honoured with the RANNY Award,” says Heinz Herren, CTO and CIO of Swisscom.

About Kathrein

Kathrein is a leading international specialist for reliable, high-quality communication technologies. The company is an innovation and technology leader in today’s connected world. Kathrein’s solutions and systems enable people all over the world to communicate, access information and use media, whether at home, at the office or on the road. The business covers a broad spectrum: from outdoor and indoor mobile communication solutions, to satellite reception, broadband and broadcast technology, to transmission and reception systems in vehicles. As a hidden champion and family-owned enterprise, Kathrein has been working on the technologies of tomorrow since 1919. The company takes pride in its dedicated employees and passion for customers and quality. Find out more about Kathrein at www.kathrein.com.

About Swisscom

Swisscom is Switzerland’s leading telecom provider and one of its foremost IT companies, headquartered in Ittigen, close to the capital city, Bern. Outside Switzerland, Swisscom offers broadband Internet in Italy with Fastweb. Around 21,000 employees achieve annual revenues of approx. CHF 11.5 billion. Swisscom is one the most sustainable companies in Switzerland and Europe Find out more about Swisscom at www.swisscom.ch.

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 info@kathrein.com 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!

Kathrein Announces Street Connect for Wireless Densification in High Traffic Locations

Woman calling a taxi with Kathrein's Street Connector antenna providing a strong signal

A New In-Ground Antenna That Revolutionizes Mobile Communication in Cities

(PRWEB) December 10, 2015

Kathrein, the leading global LTE antenna provider* today introduces an innovative solution for wireless densification in city centres. In collaboration with Swisscom, Switzerland’s leading telecom provider, Kathrein developed “Kathrein Street Connect”, an in-ground antenna system that enhances mobile capacity at hotspots with high data traffic. Following a trial period in Bern, Switzerland, the antenna will be deployed in selected cities in early 2016.

According to Swisscom, the mobile data volume generated by customers by surfing, streaming, and downloading doubles approximately every twelve months. The mobile communication network increasingly reaches its capacity limits at highly frequented hotspots such as downtown pedestrian zones. Due to the skyrocketing usage, networks need to be continuously upgraded in order to provide the needed data rates. The way this is currently accomplished is by supplementing macro cells with micro cells mounted on street furniture (street lamps, building walls, etc.). However, the availability of suitable sites, the high cost of site acquisition, regulations with zoning ordinances, and the ability to connect to the core network are problematic.

Making Use of Existing Infrastructure:
To solve these issues, Swisscom developed the concept of a micro cell in which the base station is incorporated into existing cable manholes of the landline infrastructure. The antenna is embedded into the ground in the immediate vicinity by way of a core drilling and is not visible. For the realization of this innovative idea, Swisscom selected network supplier Ericsson for the base station and Kathrein for the antenna solution. “In close collaboration with the experts from Swisscom, we were able to develop this unique antenna to production standard,” explains Manfred Steinbacher, Head of Mobile Communication Antennas for Kathrein.

“An in-ground antenna is a unique innovation”, says Steinbacher. “The particular challenge was to design an antenna and bracket resistant to road vibrations and with exceptional quality. The solution was specifically designed for use in environments with high building density. Additionally, the special lid above the antenna is extremely rugged and sturdy allowing the deployment in streets with heavy goods vehicle traffic”.

Swisscom will test the system in Bern, Zurich, Basel und Lausanne through the end of 2015, followed by large-scale antenna installations throughout Switzerland. “I am very proud that this product will be another milestone in our history of innovations,” says Heinz Herren, Swisscom’s CTO and CIO. “When we brought Kathrein on board, an experienced and competent partner, their profound know-how helped to turn our idea into reality.”

“Kathrein Street Connect“ will be available to network operators in other countries in mid-2016. “We see a high potential for this innovation“, says Joe Doering, Chief Sales Officer of the Kathrein Group.

About Kathrein
Kathrein is a leading international specialist for reliable, high-quality communication technologies. We are an innovation and technology leader in today’s connected world. Our ability to provide solutions and systems enables people all over the world to communicate, access information and use media, whether at home, at the office or on the road. We cover a broad spectrum: from outdoor and indoor mobile communication solutions, to satellite reception, broadband and broadcast technology, to transmission and reception systems in vehicles. As a hidden champion and family-owned enterprise, we have been working on the technologies of tomorrow since 1919. We take pride in our dedicated employees and our passion for customers and quality.

Find out more about Kathrein at http://www.kathreinusa.com.

About Swisscom
Swisscom is Switzerland’s leading telecom provider and one of its foremost IT companies, headquartered in Ittigen, close to the capital city, Bern. Outside Switzerland, Swisscom offers broadband Internet in Italy with Fastweb. Around 21,000 employees achieve annual revenues of approx. CHF 11.5 billion annually. Swisscom is one the most sustainable companies in Switzerland and Europe. Find out more about Swisscom at http://www.swisscom.ch.

*According to ABI Research 2015 LTE Basestation Antenna Deployments

For the original version on PRWeb visit:http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/12/prweb13124063.htm

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Roughing it at our Sales Conference in Cancun!

by Scott Nagel

Welcome to our first edition and inaugural Kathrein USA Blog!  The Wireless Industry is changing so fast, that it’s not only interesting from a pure technology perspective, but it is absolutely entertaining. Our goal is to provide a blog that addresses these industry trends while having a lot of fun along the way!    Here we go…

Viva Mexico!

Two weeks ago we had the chance to join our Kathrein family for our annual Sales Conference in Cancun, Mexico (yeah, we know – we have it rough). Our diverse team consists of employees from Germany, South America, Australia, Mexico, and the United States.   In the day and age of webinars, virtual conferences, and video chatting, sometimes real FACE TIME is not only refreshing, but absolutely worth the travel costs, as true team building is much easier when a team can actually meet in person to brainstorm and enjoy fun, team-building activities.

Good Morning Cancun Day 1Work Hard, Play Hard

We spent most of the week in meetings enjoying presentations from our leadership, brainstorming in small teams, and engaging in fun, team-building activities (like building an antenna out of cardboard, police tape, and paper!)  Just like our normal work weeks, we were able to get a lot  done, while having a great time.  Back in the 90s, W. Edwards Deming noted that, “The prevailing system of management has crushed fun out of the workplace.”  We learned first hand that hard work and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  On Friday, we spent half a day at XCARET, a beautiful water park, floating down the river (while bats swooped overhead), enjoying SNUBA , and a thrilling dinner show!

Let’s Get Ready for 2016!

Our sales conference helped us set plans and actions in motion as 2016 will be here before we know it.  Our brainstorming sessions united us, as we further develop our plans to stay ahead of the “innovation curve” and attack the changing wireless landscape in areas such as 5G, HetNets, Small Cells, IoT, and DAS.  Working with a truly international team is helping our sales and marketing teams learn Best Practices  from all over the globe, as we continue to lead the way with the industry’s highest quality antenna solutions. Next year we will meet in Brazil.  Thank you Rafael Rojo, who planned the entire week, and cheers to Wilson Conti, who has been passed the torch for 2016! Watch out Rio, HERE WE COME!

XCARET Dinner Show- Capriccio Martin-Kathrein USA, Anton Kathrein-Kathrein, Rosenheim, Jon Reedy-Kathrein USA, Frank Weber-Kathrein, Rosenheim, Joerg Lippert-Kathrein, Rosenheim

XCARET Dinner Show- Capriccio Martin-Kathrein USA, Anton Kathrein-Kathrein, Rosenheim, Jon Reedy-Kathrein USA, Frank Weber-Kathrein, Rosenheim, Joerg Lippert-Kathrein, Rosenheim