Kathrein Street Connect: Adding capacity to hotspots

Kathrein introduces an innovative solution for mobile communication in city centres. In collaboration with Swisscom, Switzerland's leading telecom provider, Kathrein has 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, the antenna will be brought into operation in selected cities in Switzerland in early 2016. Kathrein has started to market the new system worldwide.

According to Swisscom, the mobile data volume generated by customers through surfing, streaming and downloading doubles approximately every twelve months. The mobile communication network increasingly reaches its capacity limits at highly frequented hotspots such as pedestrian zones. Networks need to be upgraded continuously in order to provide excellent data rates for customers in the future. For this purpose, the macro cells are supplemented by micro cells mounted on street lamps or building walls. The availability of suitable sites and the connection to the core network are, however, problematic.

Making use of the existing infrastructure

To solve the issue, 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 realisation of their 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.

An in-ground antenna is a unique innovation, says Steinbacher. The particular challenge was to design an antenna and bracket resistant to vibrations. The solution was especially designed for use in environments with high building density. MIMO is also one of its special features. MIMO is the acronym for “Multiple Input Multiple Output” and stands for the simultaneous use of several transmission and reception antennas. The lid above the antenna is extremely sturdy so that the system can also be used in streets with heavy goods vehicle traffic.

Swisscom will test the system in Bern, Zurich, Basel und Lausanne until the end of this year, 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 took Kathrein on board, an experienced and competent partner, their profound know-how helped to turn our idea into reality.”

Kathrein sees high potential for the system

“Kathrein Street Connect” is available from now on to network operators in other countries. “We can see a high potential for this innovation”, says Joe Doering, Chief Sales Officer of the Kathrein Group. “The need for high-performance connections is growing rapidly especially in big cities. ‘Kathrein Street Connect’ adds a new solution to our portfolio which is highly topical for telecom providers around the world”.