RFS History

Print page

It all began in 1900 when the Hackethal Wire Company was founded in Hannover, Germany. Hackethal made electric cables, using an improved insulation technique patented by Louis Hackethal. A decade later, in 1910, the American Tube Bending (ATB) company was established in New Haven, Connecticut. ATB specialized in custom tube bending and built the engine manifold for the famed “Spirit of St. Louis” aircraft.

  • wire insulation technique

    Louis Hackethal’s wire insulation technique is patented.

  • American Tube Bending

    The Spirit of St. Louis takes off with an American Tube Bending (ATB) company engine manifold

  • flat antennas

    The Communication Product Company (CPC) builds flat antennas for use in defense equipment

  • RF power cable

    1st RF power cable with a corrugated steel outer conductor

  • BSA

    CPC begins building high-gain base station antennas

  • cellular technology

    CPC begins working with Bell Labs on early cellular technology


    FLEXWELL air dielectric cables are developed (HELIFLEX today)


    1st corrugated elliptical waveguide (FLEXWELL)


    1st corrugated seam-welded coaxial cable (CELLFLEX)


    1st smooth wall radiating coaxial cable (RADIAFLEX)


    1st coaxial cable featuring an aluminum outer conductor (CELLFLEX LITE)


    1st hybrid feeder cabling solution for remote radio heads (HYBRIFLEX)

  • Emmy Award

    Awarded to RFS Kilsyth for pioneering work on adjacent channel combiners used in TV Broadcasting

  • BCAT filter tuning software

    Developed for broadcast transmitter mask filter tuning

  • Small Form Antenna (SFA)

    Ultra small parabolic antenna made of polymer specially designed for small cell backhaulling application

  • Tunable 50 kW UHF filter

    A game changer for high power broadcast sites

  • MIMO In-tunnel Wireless Connectivity

    MIMO presence in tunnels thanks to the development of new radiating cables

  • Transparent antenna

  • PIM localization system

    Source of PIM in BSA production line can be identified with high accuracy

Cable, antenna and cellular innovators

By 1959, ATB had formed a relationship with American cable producer, Phelps Dodge, which had purchased the Communication Product Company (CPC) three years earlier. Founded by one of Guglielmo Marconi’s students, CPC builds flat antennas for use in defense equipment.

By 1955, the company produced high-gain base station antennas. During this period, CPC also began partnering with the prestigious Bell Labs to develop early cellular technology.

Meanwhile, the Hackethal Wire Company had developed a very substantial portfolio of patents and a strong reputation as an innovative and visionary player in the cable industry. Many of the Hackethal Wire Company’s inventions are still proudly used by RFS today:

  • • 1951: The world’s first radio frequency (RF) power cable with a corrugated steel outer conductor.
  • • 1957: The FLEXWELL® air dielectric cable, sold today under the RFS HELIFLEX® brand.
  • • 1961: The FLEXWELL elliptical waveguide, the world’s first corrugated elliptical waveguide
  • • 1962: CELLFLEX®, the world’s first corrugated seam-welded foam dielectric cable.

By 1966, Hackethal had become Kabelmetal. And, in 1972, Kabelmetal produced the world’s first smooth wall radiating coaxial cable, today’s RFS RADIAFLEX® product line.

The innovators unite as RFS

In 1983, France-based Alcatel combined Kabelmetal, its U.S.-based subsidiary, Cablewave Systems, and the former CPC — now called Celwave R.F. — under the RFS Group banner. In 1999, the RFS Group became a separate company called Radio Frequency Systems with Alcatel (the future Alcatel-Lucent) as its parent company. Celwave and Cablewave became RFS USA, headquartered in Meriden, Connecticut.

In 2006, Alcatel and Lucent Technologies merge, creating global telecom equipment giant. Alcatel-Lucent becomes the new mother company for RFS. RFS is honored in the 60th Annual Emmy Awards for its pioneering work on "adjacent channel combiners" for TV broadcasting in 2009. The same year it is inducted into the prestigious Victorian Hall of Fame in Australia. In 2009, RFS also invents HYBRIFLEX™, the world’s first hybrid feeder cabling solution for RRH deployments.

In 2016, RFS receives an innovation award for transparent antennas and opens, one year later, a new plant in Suzhou, China.

Today, RFS is a truly global company with:

  • 8 manufacturing facilities: USA, Brazil, France, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Australia and India
  • 5 R&D centers: USA, France, Germany, China and Australia
  • More than 30 sales offices and technical support centers in more than 20 countries