11th December 2020

T-Mobile and AGC test transparent glass antennas and windows that lower signal attenuation

T-Mobile Czech Republic and AGC have successfully completed initial testing of WAVEATTOCH®, a new type of antenna for mobile networks. The WAVEATTOCH antenna was designed for easy installation directly on glazed facades. Once installed, it helps to improve the quality of coverage and the capacity of mobile networks, including 5G, especially in historic city centres, where installing conventional antennas on the walls of houses is inappropriate. Since it is made of glass and therefore transparent, the WAVEATTOCH antenna blends discretely into urban landscapes.

Meeting the capacity requirements of existing mobile networks and future 5G technologies, especially in densely populated areas, is a major challenge for operators. Installing conventional antennas on walls is not only time-consuming and costly, but often impossible due to rules designed to protect cultural heritage in historic city centres. To that end, T-Mobile joined forces with AGC to test the latter’s unique and innovative glass antenna.

The antennas were tested together with the another unique AGC solution: WAVETHRU®, a thermal insulation window glass whose surface has been processed to enable radio signals to more efficiently penetrate into and circulate within buildings. WAVETHRU dramatically reduces signal attenuation through the glass by a factor of 10 to 100 (depending on the frequency band of the signal), while retaining its key thermal insulation properties. The solution has potential applications not only in the building industry, but also in other situations where thermal insulation glass with a metallic coating is used and connectivity is required – for example in modern railway cars.

“I like the idea of using glass antennas on a facade and wanted to conduct a proof of concept test in order to understand the benefits, since this can lead to new possibilities in network deployment, especially for historic city centres like Prague. It will also allow us to improve coverage and network capacity in hot spots,” says Thomas Schweinhuber, Head of International Access Engineering at T-Mobile Czech Republic.

 “We adapted our solution to the needs of T-Mobile. For example, we added the new 1.8 and 2.1 GHz frequency bands to the existing upper Sub-6 bands (2.6-6GHz). The lessons learned where extremely beneficial for our expansion in Europe,” says Philipp Jaeger, AGC’s Account Manager for Telecom Infrastructure Products.

The test was conducted earlier this year and involved placing WAVEATTOCH glass antennas at a height of approximately 10 meters on the windows of T-Mobile's headquarters in Roztyly, Prague. At the same time, the existing double-glazed windows were replaced with double glazing processed with the WAVETHRU surface treatment to restore high-quality communication in the building. Testing covered the band of 1,800MHz and 2,100MHz especially supporting 4G network for voice and data services. The 2x2 MIMO Panel Antennas used during the test are completely transparent and have a thin frame, and they are easy to miss from outside at first glance.

The initial results showed that the two innovative solutions tested are feasible and functional concepts that could help mobile operators and cities address the growing demand for high-speed mobile Internet access. The test confirmed that AGC WAVETHRU improved signal quality and signal levels in the selected locations.

Pictures are available HERE.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic