The ninth annual Verizon In-Building Technology Users Forum (IBTUF) stood strong and focused last week in spite of the buzz around the spectacular meltdown (or come-from-behind victory, depending upon team loyalties) during the NFC Championship Game and the 2015 Texas Inauguration.
Following the trend of recent industry events, the agenda at IBTUF included hot topics such as Small Cells, Public-Safety, CPRI and C-RAN (a/k/a Cloud RAN or Centralized RAN which, notably, have two different implied meanings).
We at SOLiD enjoy a good debate and, therefore, applaud the inclusion of these topics on the agenda. So here’s our take…
- Small Cells: The promise of quick and inexpensive operator-specific densification continues to be slowed by the realities of an absence of a repeatable process for backhaul, site acquisition and network management. The industry says 2015 will be a year of significant progress for small cells but we’ve heard that before. See more here, here and here.
- Public-Safety: The relationship wireless operators have with public-safety is a lot like oil and water – the two sides don’t naturally mix (see Donny Jackson’s front row seat commentary when this was debated recently at LTE North America). Operators cite technology, liability, financial and network management as key objections to getting involved in public-safety. Through FirstNet, it seems that involvement is inevitable but clearly there’s a wide chasm to cross which informs that, for now, commercial and public-safety networks will be separate layers.
- CPRI: The selling point of CPRI is reduced TCO – both CAPEX (eliminates need for POI conditioning) and OPEX (power and temperature efficiencies) – by interfacing directly between the head-end and base station. However, it’s hardly an open standard as each network equipment vendor has their own unique interface flavor. Plus take-up for “digital DAS” solutions has been slowed globally and particularly in North America. See analyst Joe Madden’s insights here.
- C-RAN: Whether the meaning of “C” refers to “Cloud” or “Centralized”, this is a strategic approach to enable operators to deploy new technologies and services both faster and more cost-effectively to achieve accelerated time-to-revenue over the long run. Initial deployments have been in Asia which makes sense given the dense urban areas and that operators own the fiber (SOLiD fronthaul solutions support one of the world’s first and largest C-RAN deployments for SK Telecom). But the U.S. is different than Asia due to expansive geography and who owns the fiber. For C-RAN to find a home here, the data tsunami must become significantly unmanageable.
As always, it was wonderful to network with our customer, partners and friends in the wireless industry. See y’all next year!