ALCAN's 5G smart antennas

Unlocking the capabilities of mmWave 5G


The Challenge

5G in low band frequencies only sees a 20% improvement on 4G. To reach its full potential, 5G must operate in mmWave frequencies, but using spectrum above 24 Ghz presents three challenges:

  • Penetration – mmWave is easily blocked, which limits penetration, especially in dense urban areas
  • Range – mmWave frequencies have a range of 300 meters – 50x less than 4G, making more equipment key 
  • Cost – The cost implications of more equipment are compounded by its typically high upfront cost

This makes Electronically Steerable Antennas (ESA) essential when working in mmWave frequencies to improve RF performance, minimise pathloss impact and reduce penetration losses. But there is still a problem as typical ESAs have a high CAPEX cost and power consumption.

ALCAN’s 5G solution

ALCAN has an alternative, with patented Liquid Crystal (LC) based phased array antenna solutions which offer a new approach to beam-steering.

They deliver all the benefits associated with traditional beam-steering equipment, while drastically reducing CAPEX and OPEX. ALCAN innovatively uses Liquid Crystal Technology to build a range of solutions that solve 5G challenges for real-world deployments.

Low Power

ALCAN solutions give a 5x reduction in power consumption (including RF Front-End) compared to typical silicon beamforming solutions. They offer high performance using only a few watts minimising OPEX costs

Cost Effective

A combination of cost-effective materials and efficient manufacturing processes mean ALCAN beam-steering solutions offer a 10x cost reduction (including RF Front-End) compared to traditional alternatives.


The volume of equipment needed for 5G is huge and so infrastructure must be unobtrusive. ALCAN’s LC antennas allow a completely flat, discrete form factor.

How ALCAN’s solutions work

The technology

Based on extensive research at Darmstadt University, ALCAN’s 5G solutions use liquid crystal which is controlled by an electromagnetic field. This can change the direction of the received or transmitted beam without needing to physically turn the antenna. The patented technology makes for a low CAPEX and OPEX solution to one of biggest issues plaguing mmWave 5G.

The manufacturing process

Using Liquid Crystal, most often seen in Smart phones and TV allows the antennas to be manufactured using the same assembly line process, dramatically cutting build costs to of the cost of traditional phased array antennas.

Using the products

The form factor means ALCAN’s solutions can be deployed virtually anywhere. There are no moving parts minimizing maintenance costs and ALCAN’s automatic link alignment for easy deployment.

Find out more about the technology behind ALCAN’s 5G solutions



Relay Antennas

ALCAN helps operators overcome the shorter-range issues associated with mmWave by enabling discrete additional sites to be deployed across cities. This enables full 5G coverage without increasing visible infrastructure


Customer Premises Equipment

CPE solutions open the door to in-building 5G use cases. mmWave 5G Fixed Wireless Access solutions offer a cost-effective, fast replacement for optical fiber deployments, and bring full 5G coverage inside


Mobility Solutions

Connected cars are a flagship vision for 5G and ALCAN’s technology integrates perfectly into vehicles and allows satellite failover, accelerating the timeline for this technology

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