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An Unlikely Discussion at MWC

By Mike Collado
February 25th, 2015

IMG_20140222_105905_697[1]It’s that time again for jetlag, sore feet and one-hour taxi queues… For missed appointments due to Google-Outlook-Apple calendars that didn’t sync… And serendipitous encounters with long-lost colleagues on La Rambla at 2 am.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you Mobile World Congress.

(“And I like it!” as Mick Jagger says)

It’s been predicted by our friends Ed Gubbins, Peter Jarich and Joe Madden (among others) that a certain number (5) and a letter (G) will dominate conversations at this year’s congress.

(Cue Ted Nugent: “5G fever, duh, duh, duh…”)

While we understand the allure of the promise of fiber-like wireless speeds, the topic we’re keen for is network densification.

Unfortunately, the discussion won’t likely progress beyond the current mantra of, “It’s gonna to be a toolkit approach.”

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Courtesy of Joe Madden, Mobile Experts

The Densification Challenge

Iain Gillott from iGR identifies in a paper sponsored by SOLiD that “Mobile bandwidth demand is rapidly increasing around the world. In North America, iGR expects that by 2017 the consumption of mobile data per month will increase more than six times over its level in 2012. But, the deeper issue gets lost in this statistic. Within any given geographic market, there will be locations where the mobile data network will be unable to meet the average level of data demand simply due to the congregation of large numbers of users.”

Joe Madden from Mobile Experts quantifies this “data tsunami” as having properties whereby “data demand is ‘peaky’, with 15x higher demand during peak hours” and “data demand is increasingly ‘spotty’ with hotzone demand up to 500 times higher in some cells than in other cells.”

The solution? Make the network denser.

Pat Diamond from Key2mobile, an early stage company which is focused on the urban wireless market, defines densification as the marrying up of both coverage and capacity within the wireless network.

The key is getting coverage and capacity where the users are and when the users need it.

IMG_0350The Toolkit Approach

Only a few short years ago, the industry buzz was that small cells would be the death knell for DAS (distributed antenna systems).

Touted as a sure thing for densifying outdoor spaces, the wide-scale deployment of small cells has been slowed by the absence of a ubiquitous process which Small Cell Forum Chairman Alan Law says includes backhaul, site acquisition, monetization and network management. Similarly, Ken Rehbehn at 451 Research suggests that the key challenges center around real estate and power. Currently, small cell deployment is focused on indoor spaces which are low-hanging fruit having fewer obstacles.

Meanwhile, Stuart Carlaw at ABI Research observes that “DAS is evolving at a frightening pace” and is well-positioned to economically solve for both large (>500K sq. ft.) and medium (100-500K sq. ft.) venues.

Stu’s colleague – Nick Marshall – hypothesized during a briefing late last year that densification solutions may likely look more like DAS than a small cell.

And then there’s Wi-Fi which certain analysts including Ken Rehbehn and Joe Madden view as a compelling play for densifying indoor corporate environments.

Which brings us to the toolkit approach…

When asked why not just use small cells for everything during a panel discussion at LTE North America, our friend Dr. Derek (a/k/a Derek Peterson, CTO of Boingo) responded, “Why not use all the tools in the toolkit?”

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Courtesy of Joe Madden, Mobile Experts

Not Far Enough

Remember “the voice” in the movie Field of Dreams that urged protagonist Ray Kinsella to “go the distance?”

We observe that our industry – for the most part – is still stuck on the Beatles or the Stones debate (we’re borrowing this great analogy from Dr. Derek): do we densify with DAS or small cells?

But why not the Beatles AND the Stones? More importantly, why not the Beatles AND the Stones AND Dylan AND Hendrix?

We note that our industry is struggling to advance the toolkit conversation to a decision tree discussion which examines the rationale for selecting among DAS, small cells, Wi-Fi, C-RAN and future architectures likely based on passive optical LAN (POL). To jumpstart the conversation, SOLiD sponsored a paper by David Chambers at ThinkSmallCell but we maintain there is much more thought leadership to be done.

We believe that perhaps the most compelling gap to be solved is for the underserved “middle ground” indoor market that is best characterized as enterprise venues (think hotels and office buildings).

We’re not alone. Jennifer Pigg at 451 Research remarked at a recent conference that agendas would better serve the educational needs of attendees by avoiding yet another Super Bowl venue case study. And Joe Madden has identified this market as an important emerging battleground.

We believe the common characteristics of successful solutions within the densification toolkit address needs that include reduced TCO (total cost of ownership), flexibility (to add services and mitigate the rip-and-replace cycle) and intelligence (performance optimization, energy efficiency and analytics).

As an industry colleague recently shared: “The next few years are gonna be a helluva ride.”

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We’ll even have real, live human beings in our stand!

See Us at MWC

Team SOLiD is showcasing our RF and Optical Transport solutions in Hall 6, Stand L41.

We also have the privilege to be included on the agenda at the Small Cell Zone (Hall 7, Stand F61) which is hosted by the Small Cell Forum (SOLiD is a member) and features presentations from executives and thought leaders we most admire. We’ll present on “The Densification Toolkit Evolution and Revolution” (Monday at 14:00) and “Getting Clarity on Cloud-RAN” (Tuesday at 14:00).

Please message below in comments or contact us to meet; or just stop by!

Keep an eye out for updates on our blog, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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On The Road Again

By Mike Collado
February 17th, 2015

IMG_0430To quote Big & Rich: Well we’re comin’ to your city…

(Or at least likely nearby!)

One of the things that energizes us the most is getting into the marketplace to meet with buyers and partners and to share thought leadership.

5G comes with the promise of fiber-like speeds. It also comes with the opportunity for new market leadership because infrastructure must be overhauled to accommodate capacity.

Needless to say, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Which is why events will remain an important and relevant vehicle to debate densification strategies and technologies.

For the latest listing of SOLiD events, please visit our website.

Here’s our calendar to-date:


agl_newAGL Regional Conference
2/18 – 2/18
Long Beach
Panelist: “Case Studies in Small Cells and DAS”

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logo no tagline

3/22 – 3/26
Exhibitor (Graybar)
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mwc 2015 logoMobile World Congress
3/2 – 3/5
Exhibitor: Hall 6, Stand L41
Presenter: “The Densification Toolkit Evolution & Revolution” & “Getting Clarity on Cloud-RAN”

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Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 8.54.23 AMThe CIBET Initiative

3/9 – 3/13
Sponsor / Trainer / Exhibitor
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3/16 – 3/20
Las Vegas
Exhibitor (Hutton Communications, Booth #620)
Panelist: “Introduction to HetNets and Small Cells” & “A Study of In-Building Wireless”
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3/31 – 3/31
New York
Annual Sponsor / Exhibitor
Panelist: “DAS & WiFi – A Symbiotic Relationship”
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4/19 – 4/20
Panelist: “The Wireless Technology Roadmap: A Trip Into the Future”
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4/27 – 4/30
Hollywood, FL
Tee Box Sponsor: 11th Annual PCIA Golf Outing
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6/8 – 6/10/2015
New Orleans
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6/9 – 6/11
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California Dreaming

By Mike Collado
February 9th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.43.35 AMTeam SOLiD gathered last week for our annual meeting and team building event in sunny Santa Cruz which provided welcome relief to team members located in significantly colder and snowier locales.

(Thanks to Seascape Beach Resort for hosting us and Synergy Learning Systems for the team building sessions)

Our 2014 company meeting informed that we expect something grand which manifested in our celebrating another record-setting year in revenue and headcount as well as the launch of the ALLIANCE 5W DAS Remote and CityDAS Pole; marquee wins including University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium; participating in the general sessions at PCIA’a Wireless Infrastructure Show and then premiering our latest video before the keynote; implementing our ACT33 process to ensure expedited field deployments; partnering with Hutton Communications, Graybar and Panduit; opening our Denver office; plus many other milestones and initiatives!

For 2015, we’re embarking upon a new journey.

We observe that to many, the journey is a means to reach a destination. However, we argue that the journey is as important – if not more important – than the destination itself.

(Robert Hastings nailed this concept in the poem “The Station”)

Which is why we’re continuing to be guided by our core values; attracting, nurturing and empowering top talent; listening to the market and our customers to solve big problems; and delivering on our promises.

We’re now back in our offices – focused, readied and energized to begin the journey.

We look forward to seeing you in the marketplace!



An breathtaking start to an amazing week



Seth Buechley inviting us to the journey



Ken Sandfeld sharing our maps for the journey



Eric Carey describes new services and support initiatives



Dennis Rigney shares the 2015 sales goal (not pictured – the sales team all fainted)



Listening intently



Team building exercise: planning and adapting



Team leaders were distinguished by fashionable boas during team building exercise



Evening reception after an “all-in” first day



Eli Fischer, Matt Atkins, Mike Collado, Seung Jong Kim



Dennis Rigney, Hitesh Kshatriya, Randy Ryan, Ken Sandfeld, David Bledsoe, Chris Graff



Gary Wilson, Kevin Vierling, Chip Laughton


photo 7

The rowdy table



Day #2 – we worked, really



Teambuilding exercises



No peeking: Build a tent blindfolded based on instructions from your teammates



The mission: build a trebuchet to launch water ballons… what could go wrong?



Filling water balloons: sure, no one’s going to wind up getting wet…



Celebratory bonfire



Sunsetting another great company event

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Holding its Own: IBTUF IX

By Mike Collado
January 26th, 2015

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!



Welcome to Austin!



The home of IBTUF two years and running.



Folks came near and far to see us. So, maybe it had something to do with us updating the score of the NFC Championship game!



Anticipation… The booth build up



SOLiD booth compound



CityDAS outdoor densification street pillar (a collaboration with ConcealFab and Galtronics) hosts DAS, Small Cell, WiFi, Public-Safety and Lighting, and is deployment-ready with power, meter and cutoff plus battery backup.


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SOLiD iDAS/oDAS solution suite



SE Dadrian Carrington can not only juggle complex DAS projects but swag, too!





Trainer Lakshmin Thiagarajan



Team SOLiD mixing it up with friends and colleagues



Teamwork: Dennis Rigney and Ken Sandfeld



Until next year, y’all!


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