Antenna manufacturers were reporting good levels of interest at the TETRA World Congress in Budapest and most seemed to feel the market for their products was pretty healthy despite the depressed global economic situation.
John Thomson, technical sales and support manager at Panorama Antennas, says: ‘We are doing a fair bit more in Asia, although not to the same level of activity as we are experiencing in Europe, which is still a healthier market for us.’
Like many in the industry, Thomson reports that customers are looking very carefully at costs in the public safety sector.
‘So, we are developing products and packages that reduce the cost of installation,’ he says. ‘We do this by providing installation solutions that reduce the amount of damage to vehicles and by reducing the installation time using plug in and play techniques that require the minimum amount of work.’
The company has a whole range of TETRA products so it can provide a solution for any application, although Thomson says the highest areas of demand are still for public safety applications, transportation and industrial use.
Panorama’s TRNB series of specialist TETRA railway antennae has been available for a year but has already attracted some notable successes. It’s a very heavy duty antenna designed to meet railway specifications for shock and vibration, as well as very stringent electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements.
The antenna is available in the 380MHz-430MHz band and the 800MHz band for the Asian market. One of the company’s biggest contracts to date came through Motorola and involved the supply of 350 antennae for use in Brazil for mining trains.
Looking to the future, Thomson says Panorama is developing multi-functional antennas to meet the growing data demand. The antennas can handle GSM and 3G and wireless LAN. ‘The integration of LTE with TETRA means we will need to provide MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) type antennas. It’s more of a challenge, so we are working on these at the moment.
‘We are also doing standalone LTR antenna,’ says Thomson, ‘but we need the multi-functional ones too. We are getting inquiries from Germany about this. In the UK, we need to get the spectrum for critical national infrastructure, so we want to know where the next requirement is coming from in terms of spectrum.’
Alan Spencer, global PMR sales manager at Jaybeam, part of the Amphenol group, says the firm is doing well in the UK and France, but is looking to get greater penetration in the rest of Europe.
While Europe remains Jaybeam’s primary market, Spencer says the company is achieving major growth in the Middle East and North Africa.
The company has a huge portfolio of medium and heavy duty omnidirectional, Yagi, panel and directional array antennas from 200MHz up to 2,200MHz. It has also been promoting its multi-band antennas to customers as a way of helping them to cut costs and future proof themselves.
Spencer says expanding its indoor products will be Jaybeam’s next area of focus. ‘We need to expand our indoor range anyway. We need to put a speed bump between us and our competitors so that when they catch up we are onto the next thing. We have an idea about how the future will look for antennas inside, but we must work with our partners or we’ll develop a product that nobody wants. It may be good to be first to market, but you’ve got to get the product right.’
In terms of helping customers reduce costs, Jaybeam is promoting a holistic site solution.
‘At Amphenol we have antennas, cabling, connectors into infrastructure, clamps and earthing products, so we can offer a one source approach,’ says Spencer.
‘If you source everything separately, it means you have a large vendor base to manage and that can create logistical challenges in terms of getting the right products delivered at the right time. It is expensive and time wasting to keep site gangs waiting.’
A new face at TETRA World Congress was Slovak antenna manufacturer 2J, which designs and manufacturers a wide range of combined, magnetic, bodymount, patch, embedded and special applications antennae.
Fill the gap
Janette Jarvie, general manager at 2J, says: ‘Our main market was antenna in the 800MHz to 6GHz bands, but we have also had a modest portfolio of TETRA antennas. After receiving an increased number of enquiries for TETRA antennas, we thought we’d try out TETRA World Congress. It’s good research for us to find out what the market wants. We think we can fill in the gap between the well established market leaders and low-cost producers.’
2J produces a range of Telematic, GPS, GLONASS, GPRS, GSM and other wireless networks antennas, along with an array of cable assemblies designed to customer specifications. The company also undertakes design of customised antennae for bespoke projects.
‘Budgets are being cut everywhere,’ says Jarvie, ‘so we think we can help by providing value for money products. A combination of factors, such as the central European location of Slovakia, our quality workforce, production independence (we have our own plastic injections, pick and place machines, etc.) and in-house development aids us in keeping the costs down and maintaining control over the end quality of the product.’
Skymasts Antennas was keen to promote its ultra wideband high performance panel antenna, which offers low intermodulation products (PIM) covering the entire band from 380MHz to 470MHz.
The antenna has a sleek modern look and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications due to its fire retardant UV stable radome. It is available in a variety of different colours for covert installations and can be wall, ceiling or pole mounted.
Procom used the TETRA World Congress to show off its dual frequency mobile antenna designed for non-conductive surfaces. The product is a groundplane independent half-wave antenna for GPS and TETRA. It has been developed for installations on fibreglass surfaces and is especially suitable for motor cycles, agriculture vehicles and the like.
Key features include: a 2dB gain antenna and a whip with a built-in shock spring; its GPS signal is secured through a high-gain, low-noise amplifier; and SWR is optimised by tuning the black box matching unit.
Procom is also addressing the growing need for indoor TETRA antennas, which it describes as being very topical as legal requirements on TETRA indoor coverage are being implemented throughout Europe.
The PCPI xHCP-DP/TETRA antenna covers the whole TETRA-band (380MHz to 420MHz) in one antenna. To reduce out-of-phase signals, the antenna is left or right hand circular polarised.
This makes the antenna suitable for installations in environments with iron and concrete where reflections are more probable. Currently the antenna is being specified for applications such as ships, public buildings and tunnels.