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Vodafone and Ericsson introduce compact antennas to boost 5G coverage in Germany

To combat the lack of space on rooftops in Germany and enhance urban 5G coverage, Vodafone, in collaboration with Ericsson, has introduced new compact antenna technology into their mobile network, starting with installations in Düsseldorf and aiming to add 500 more throughout Germany by the end of 2026.

Press release
Jul 10, 2024
Ericsson’s Interleaved AIR 3218 installed on a rooftop in Germany
Image courtesy of Vodafone

One of the biggest challenges in network expansion in Germany is the search for new locations for additional 5G antennas due to a scarcity of space left on rooftops. Available rooftop locations often do not meet the static requirements of network planners, and current sites with LTE masts often lack space for additional 5G antennas.

To address this challenge, Vodafone has now put Ericsson’s Interleaved AIR 3218 antenna into operation, increasing the performance, capacity and coverage of the 5G network at rooftop locations without increasing the footprint of the antenna. The first compact 5G antenna has been deployed at a multi-story car park in Düsseldorf, with up to 500 more to follow across the network by the end of 2026. This will facilitate Vodafone’s network expansion, especially on Germany's rooftops - and thus increase 5G coverage.

Tanja Richter, Head of Technology at Vodafone, says: "Strong winds exert pressure on the antenna surfaces that are mounted on the roofs. The more mobile phone antennas there are up there, the higher the wind load. This also increases the demands on wind resistance and statics, meaning that not every existing rooftop location has been able to be upgraded with active 5G antennas to date."

In the new generation of antennas developed by Ericsson, the active antenna is installed behind the passive antenna. "This means we need less space on the mast for more 5G in city centers,” adds Tanja Richter. “Innovations like this can further accelerate the expansion of 5G in Germany and help us to cope with the annual increase in data traffic of more than 30 percent."

The compact antennas support frequencies through the low and mid-band ranges, ensuring high coverage and capacity required for city centers. Additionally, the antennas can provide data rates of more than one gigabit per second in a comparatively small area and cover a radius of up to one kilometer with 5G.

Daniel Leimbach, Ericsson´s Head of Customer Unit Western Unit, says: "The use of a compact active-passive antenna can improve the mobile broadband experience in cities in the future. Ericsson's Interleaved AIR 3218 will massively simplify site upgrades and accelerate 5G deployment in areas previously restricted by building regulations, planning law or for structural reasons."

Technical Information

Ericsson’s Interleaved AIR 3218 combines an antenna-integrated radio and multiband passive antenna technology in one single solution, meaning additional high-performing 5G capacity can be added with no additional site footprint. The Interleaved AIR 3218 supports frequencies from 700MHz to 3.5GHz, enabling Vodafone to use FDD uplink and the TDD downlink to extend coverage and capacity.