Custom Antennas for Sideline Radios


NFL coaches use a multi-tiered communication system to talk to each other and to players on the field. There’s a base station that looks like the drink cart on an airplane, but the coach’s headset is the most visible part – and it needs to withstand everything from extreme weather conditions to being thrown on the ground in frustration. The name on the headset might be visible, but it’s what fans don’t see that enables communications from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.   

From Headsets to Boxes to Obstructed Deployments

The headset’s microphone and earcup audio are hardwired, and there’s a cable that connects to a belt-mounted intercom box with large, programmable buttons. By selecting the right button, a head coach can communicate with the offensive coordinator, the defense coordinator, the quarterback on the field, or all of the above. Inside the intercom box, there’s a connection to a separate radio box, which is also worn on the coach’s belt. For the quarterback, there’s a wireless speaker inside the helmet

Highly-configurable mesh technology enables the wireless transmission of radio signals, but reliable communication also requires the right antennas. Rajant, a leader in wireless mesh networks, specializes in creating wireless signals in areas where a wired signal isn’t practical or even possible. Examples include underground mines, but NFL venues are also obstructed deployments because steel girders, stadium seats, and 300-pound linemen all get in the way.       

Beating the Competition and Winning the Business

Rajant had a communications contract with the NFL that leveraged the Pennsylvania company’s license on a part of the radio spectrum that worked well with its kinetic meshing system. But Rajant still needed the right antennas to support communications. The company looked to a well-known provider of purpose-built antennas, but the lead times were too long and the tooling costs were too high. That’s when Rajant contacted MP Antenna of Elyria, Ohio, and found a complete solution.

MP’s multi-polarized antennas work reliably in obstructed environments and include wireless products that cover the 3 to 4 GHz range. Thanks to their multi-polarization, the 3.65 GHz antenna that Rajant selected allowed players and coaches to transmit and receive all available signals in non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environments. Unlike the competition, however, MP was able to provide Rajant with custom antenna prototypes in just two weeks – and MP’s solution worked well under real-world conditions.

To learn more about custom antennas for sideline radios, contact MP Antenna.