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Playing it Safe in the Big Easy

August 6th, 2014

We’re fresh back from the heat and humidity of New Orleans which played host to the 80th APCO Annual Conference & Expo. Here are some of the highlights:


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SOLiD and Hutton Communications presidents Seth Buechley and John Walker celebrate new partnership

APCO 2014 was a fitting place to announce our new partnership with Hutton Communications. The SOLiD portfolio – including the Quad-Band Public Safety Distributed Antenna System (DAS) with support for 700/800 and 150/450 MHz – will be available to Hutton customers that deploy in-building wireless solutions to enable cellular and public-safety communications.


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AGL Media’s Sharpe Smith explores the need for broadband public safety coverage indoors with panelists from PCIA, Safer Buildings Coalition, FirstNet and BICSI

With the bulk of emergency incidents occurring indoors and over 50% of emergency calls being made with a wireless device, the public safety industry is asking three fundamental questions: Can people communicate? Can people be notified? And can first responders communicate where the people are?

Chief Jeff Johnson (FirstNet board member), Jonathan Adelstein (PCIA CEO) and Phil Klingensmith (BICSI Master Instructor) joined Chief Alan Perdue of the Safer Buildings Coalition (SOLiD is a member) to explore how to overcome the challenges of ensuring public-safety communication which the panel agreed is a shared responsibility.


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FirstNet board member Chief Jeff Johnson discusses the need for in-building public safety communications

According to FirstNet’s Chief Johnson, wireless is essential – not optional. In an interview with Urgent Communications after the panel, Chief Johnson looks to the market to design around an ecosystem which in turn will create an economic model for stakeholder participation.

(We missed seeing Donny Jackson this year and we wish you a speed recovery from survey! Learn more here)


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SOLiD Public-Safety DAS

According to Safer Buildings Coalition executive director Chief Perdue, there is no “one size fits all” solution to ensure indoor public safety communication. Similarly, the industry is not in agreement on whether networks should be “blended” to support public safety and commercial cellular services on a single infrastructure or whether separate “parallel” networks should be deployed that are supported by solutions such as SOLiD’s quad-band700/800/150/450 MHz) solution which covers broadband and narrowband public safety services.


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Lots of interest among attendees on addressing broadband coverage indoors


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Packed room of AHJ’s at the SOLiD / Hutton cocktail reception. Honored to have hosted Pat Daniel, wife of the late Jack Daniel who pioneered the model NFPA and International Fire Code (IFC) codes requiring in-building radio coverage.


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The calm before the storm…


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Dixieland band at the APCO Block Party


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When in New Orleans, it’s cafe au lait and beignets!


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Saint Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square


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The Steamboat Natchez

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The iconic Crescent City Connection Bridge


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Stampeding in Calgary

July 12th, 2014

This past week we had the thrill to join our friends from Alliance Corporation at the annual Calgary Stampede as a sponsor for the team Alliance fielded in the chuckwagon races. What an exciting break from our daily focus!

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SOLiD Sales Director Mike Gallop and the Alliance Chuckwagon


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SOLiD Vice President of Sales Dennis Rigney


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Proud to be a sponsor. Maybe next year Mike will drive the wagon?


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Sponsorship belt buckle


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Getting ready


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Here they come!


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A close heat!


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And there they go…

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The Decade of Densification

June 18th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014 06 18 at 10.54.48 AM 1024x640 The Decade of DensificationWe recently had the privilege to present at the Small Cells World Summit.

For an overall trend recap, read our blog post as well as posts from our friends at ThinkSmallCell and Real Wireless.

At last year’s conference, Doug Alston from Sprint observed that the wireless industry transforms itself every 10 years and has unique characteristics:

  • 1980′s – 1st Generation mobile voice services
  • 1990′s – 2G voice capacity and text services
  • 2000′s – 3G rudimentary data services
  • 2010’s – 4G mobile Internet and small cells

While we agree with the first three periods, we take issue with the fourth.

Instead, we believe the 2010′s are based upon data capacity and enabling capacity where it is needed within the network.

Capacity Crunch

We are familiar with the “data tsunami” in which industry experts forecast that the consumption of mobile data will increase more than six times over the next 5 years.

But a more stunning observations gets overlooked.

Within any given geographic market, there will be super-dense urban locations where the mobile data network will be unable to meet the average level of data demand due to the congregation of large numbers of users. In these locations, the demand for mobile data will exceed the network’s capacity not by a factor of 6 but by a factor of 10, 15, or perhaps 20.

Decade of Densification

We believe the 2010’s will instead be characterized by new strategies and technologies to densify the network.

Meaning – filling the capacity holes.

In order to achieve this outcome, the wireless industry is going to rely upon a toolkit approach that consists of a heterogeneous network that includes small cells (pico, metro, micro), remote radio reads (RRH), femtocells, distributed antenna systems (DAS) and WiFi technology, along with a reengineered mobile backhaul network that is comprised of fiber and Ethernet.

In fact, we believe in certain markets we will see a change in paradigm in which the densification strategy begins with putting the cells as close to the user as possible and then working back out to the macro network.

And to solve for the challenge, the industry will deploy both evolutionary and revolutionary strategies.

We’ll discuss what this means and what those strategies may look like in our next post.


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A Big Step for the Small Cell Industry

June 13th, 2014
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Small Cell Forum CEO Sue Manahan

We’re just back from the 2014 Small Cells World Summit where we were treated to a week of fabulous weather in London (thanks Andy Germano for packing the sunshine in your carry-on bag), networking and information sharing among the wireless industry’s elite innovators and thought leaders.

One word best describes this year’s event and – we believe – the climate of the small cell market: maturation.

With 1122 registered attendees (>40% year-over-year growth), SCWS outgrew the Metropole which previously hosted the event (no, we don’t miss climbing three levels of stairs and the maze we had to navigate to reach the backhaul sessions last year).

The ExCel ensured that conference tracks, exhibits and networking were in close proximity.

And while there was crossover noise from the adjacent presentations and the roar of jets taking off from London City Airport every five minutes (we LOVED David Swift’s cheeky Tweet!), the new venue signaled a new milestone for the conference and the Small Cell Forum.

But the real sign of maturation is the message.

Gone – for the most part – is the bravado we heard at last year’s conference that suggested that Small Cells would supplant or even kill off Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) as the method for densifying the network.

Stuart Carlaw (ABI Research), Joe Madden (Mobile Experts) and others all share that a toolkit approach is needed. And that the toolkit includes the macro network, DAS, Small Cells, WiFi and other emerging strategies. 


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Similarly absent is the wireless backhaul bombast.

Backhaul also requires a toolkit approach because – while operators prefer fiber – it’s cost-prohibitive to trench fiber to the location of a radio. So wireless backhaul is needed. But as Manuel Rosa da Silva (Portugal Telecom) poignantly declared during the Operator CTO Panel Discussion, “If you don’t have fiber, you’re dead.”

(South Korea has battle-tested wireless backhaul. It’s a tool in the kit but real-world experience demonstrates that buses, rain storms and bird droppings wreak havoc on a network reliant upon this strategic approach)

Lastly, the ecosystem discussion is evolving beyond a focus on just the technology. The industry is now also exploring and implementing training and certification programs as well as pragmatic business models that seek to drive revenue through OTT (over the top) services that extend service beyond basic connectivity.

(Small Cell Forum Chairman Gordon Mansfield said it well: “It is important to recognise the potential social impact of what we and the tech we develop can do.”)

Collectively, the maturation of the industry discussion informs that the real ramp-up of deployment of small cells to help densify the network is near.

We predict this year’s conference to have marked an inflection point in the advancement of both the small cell and densification market. And while it’s still fresh in our minds, we confess we’re already excited to be back again next year.

Tell us what stood out to you as revelatory at SWCW.



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ExCel – Site of the 2014 Small Cells World Summit


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Outside the ExCel at Dockland


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Getting jazzed up at the Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony


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Dean Martin – er, Andy Germano – as the Gala emcee


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Getting our curry fix…


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… And our fish and chips fix!


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Bon voyage! Setting sail to return home. Looking forward to SCWS 2015!

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