UK operator Vodafone will begin rolling out new active-passive antenna from Ericsson, promising Massive MIMO for 5G mid-band.

Andrew Wooden

July 19, 2023

2 Min Read

UK operator Vodafone will begin rolling out new active-passive antenna from Ericsson, promising Massive MIMO for 5G mid-band.

The kit in question – Ericsson’s Interleaved AIR 3218 – combines an antenna-integrated radio and multiband passive antenna technology in one single enclosure, the chief benefit of which we are told is additional 5G capacity with no additional antenna footprint.

In terms of the technical details, we’re told the Interleaved AIR 3218 utilizes beam-through technology where an arbitrary active antenna can be placed behind the passive antenna, which reducing the overall footprint in terms of size, weight and ‘wind load.’

Apparently this is enabled by frequency-selective surfaces tuned to serve as a reflector for the passive antenna, while being transparent for the underlying Massive MIMO radio.

The modular form factor apparently has easier rooftop, tower, wall and pole mounting, which means site upgrades and acquisitions ‘will be simplified and 5G deployment accelerated in areas previously constrained by building regulations or planning law.’

Vodafone says this combined multiband, Massive MIMO design will make it easier to add more performance and capacity to a mast without increasing its footprint.

“5G is the UK’s digital future, but we should never underestimate how difficult it is to deliver a future-proofed network at scale across the length and breadth of the UK,” said Ker Anderson, Head of Radio and Performance, Vodafone UK. Working in partnership with Ericsson, we are constantly exploring new ways to accelerate this transformation, and this is another example of where innovation is delivered through collaboration.”

Evangelia Tzifa, Chief Technology Officer, Networks & Managed Services, for Ericsson UK and Ireland added: “This is a game changer for Vodafone and the UK deployment of 5G Massive MIMO. Together, we are increasing 5G capacity without growing visual antenna footprint on site. By being able to do more with less we are bringing the benefits of next-generation connectivity to more people in the UK, but also reducing any impact on the environment and continuing our journey to break the energy curve.”

Vodafone plans to hook up the AIR 3218 units across 50 sites next year, and a 30 per cent saving in site acquisition and build time is expected as a result of using the kit – which if that turns out to be the case can’t be bad.


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About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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