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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.

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?

Kathrein and TESSCO Strengthen North American Channel Partnership for Wireless Densification

Channel Relationship to Increase Availability of Integral Wireless Base Station Antenna, Small Cell, and Filter Solutions

 Kathrein USA, the #1 global LTE antenna provider* and TESSCO Technologies Incorporated (NASDAQ:TESS), a leading provider of the product and value chain solutions required to build, use, and maintain wireless systems, today announced that Kathrein USA’s full wireless densification portfolio is now available through TESSCO. This expanded channel relationship increases the footprint of Kathrein USA in North America, effectively addressing the needs of operators seeking the highest quality and reliability for their expanding Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) coverage challenges.

 “Kathrein’s strong market share, upmost quality, and proven innovation in wireless densification make them integral to our portfolio,” said Doug Dollenberg, Vice President of Product Management at TESSCO. “We believe that the Kathrein wireless base station antennas, small cells, and antenna line device products broaden our product offering and helps us address the needs of the explosive wireless marketplace – specifically our mobile operator, tower owner, and RF engineering customers.”

“The addition of TESSCO to our new North American Channel Program fortifies our go-to-market strategy and the importance we are placing on selecting strategic and motivated partners,” said Jim Nevelle, Kathrein’s President & CEO for North America. “We are impressed with TESSCO’s salesforce and marketing focus and we believe the team will amplify Kathrein’s reach and increase our ability to provide solutions to specialized vertical markets.” *Source: ABI research 2015  

About Kathrein

Kathrein is an innovation and technology leader in today’s connected world. Kathrein solutions enable people to globally communicate, access information, and use media at home or on the road. From mobile communications, signal processing systems and optimized data transmission in buildings; to fiber optic and cable networks and satellite reception technology; to radio and TV transmission and data reception in cars; Kathrein is a hidden champion and family-owned enterprise that has been working on the technologies of tomorrow since 1919. For more information visit: http://www.kathreinusa.com.

About TESSCO (NASDAQ: TESS)

The convergence of wireless and the Internet is revolutionizing the way we live, work and play. New systems and applications are creating challenges and opportunities at an unprecedented rate. TESSCO is there ‒ enabling organizations to capitalize on the opportunities in wireless by providing Your Total Source® of endto-end solutions. TESSCO delivers the knowledge, and product and supply chain solutions required to build, use maintain, and resell Cellular, Mobile Communications, Wi-Fi, Machine-to-Machine, Internet of Things,Wireless Backhaul, and Monitoring & Control systems. For more information, visit TESSCO.com or connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Contact Information

Capriccio Martin Kathrein USA
http://www.kathrein.com
214.238.8822  

Kelley Whalen
HyConnect for TESSCO
+1 312.274.3538  

If you have any questions regarding information in these press releases please contact the company listed in the press release. Our complete disclaimer appears here.  

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