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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 

 

 

 

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.