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Densification is a Toolbox Approach. So, Now What?

November 24th, 2014

20141119 122042 1024x576 Densification is a Toolbox Approach. So, Now What?We had the pleasure last week to attend one of our favorite events – LTE North America.

(For additional coverage, see our tweets from the show and videos from RCR Wireless.

This event stands out for us because it’s the Goldilocks of both content and stakeholders within the wireless ecosystem – not too broad and not too narrow; not too overwhelming and not too sparsely attended.

With topics such as HetNets, Small Cells, LTE, 5G, Network Optimization and Public-Safety, it’s always right up our alley.

We had the privilege to present before industry peers our observations on the evolutionary and revolutionary approaches that will be deployed to densify the network. As a manufacturer, it’s a topic we’re truly energized by.

(In fact, we’ll advance this topic further next week at Small Cells Americas.)

One of the key topics that stood out the most for us during the two days in Dallas was that it appears that our industry is mercifully moving away from the DAS versus Small Cells debate and beginning to engage in a pragmatic conversation to identify the right tool for the job rather than promoting an allegiance for a single technology.

Well, sort of…

Screen Shot 2014 11 24 at 5.46.06 PM Densification is a Toolbox Approach. So, Now What?The Decade of Densification

Why are we even having this discussion?

Earlier this summer, we dubbed the current period in the wireless industry as the “decade of densification.”

(The wireless industry transforms itself roughly every 10 years; see a great infographic here)

Pat Diamond from Key2mobile – an early stage company working on improving urban capacity and connectivity in the licensed-spectrum space – observes that densification is about marrying up both coverage and capacity within the wireless network.

Or, as Paula Doublin from AT&T describes it: coverage is ensuring water fills the entire lake; capacity is ensuring how deep the water is in the lake.

Of course, densification is required both indoors and outdoors.

And those spaces are unique in size and physical characteristics as well as usage requirements and durations.

Time after time, presenters and delegates uttered the phrase, “A toolkit approach is needed to densify the network.”

Screen Shot 2014 11 24 at 5.47.50 PM Densification is a Toolbox Approach. So, Now What?The Beatles vs. The Stones

Leave it to our friend Dr. Derek Peterson (CTO at Boingo) to break it down as he did during his afternoon talk on Day #1.

Everyone loves a good debate. And some within the wireless industry have pitted DAS against Small Cells.

Remember the claims that Small Cells would kill the DAS industry?

(See our thoughts on this topic from Small Cells World Summit 2014)

The problem is these kinds of discussions have made it increasingly difficult to discern the truth from the hype.

For instance, some say DAS is too expensive compared to Small Cells. We heard a presenter claim that Small Cells will be deployed at stadiums at 1/10 to 1/20 cost of DAS.

At the other end of the spectrum, another presenter suggested that small cells won’t have the capacity to support a single floor of users at a meeting facility.

As a rule of thumb, we believe DAS to be ideal for large venues (>500k square feet).

Small Cells are ideal for small buildings (<100k square feet).

But that’s just a starting point. And it leaves a big gap for densifying medium-sized enterprise venues.

Screen Shot 2014 11 24 at 5.54.05 PM 1024x775 Densification is a Toolbox Approach. So, Now What?The Right Tool for the Job

You wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to drive a nail for a picture hook, would you?

The industry discussion needs to progress to explore using the right tool for the job.

That’s what AT&T is doing based upon their series of commercials featuring the fictitious characters of Frank and Charlie highlighting a toolkit of strategies that include the macro network, DAS and Small Cells.

Here’s the thing… The toolkit is advancing and old assumptions may longer hold true.

For instance, at this year’s Small Cells World Summit, Stuart Carlaw (Chief Research Officer at ABI Research) observed that DAS is becoming economical for medium installations between 100k and 500k square feet.

However, the toolkit may also inform that multiple tools might be used. In Dallas, Boingo’s Dr. Peterson rhetorically asked, “Why not use all the tools in the toolkit?”

We believe there exist venues in which DAS and Small Cells should be deployed together. In this theoretical scenario, DAS may cover the majority of the public areas and small cells could be used to boost capacity for specific operators or applications where needed.

Advancing the Discussion

In our opinion, one of the most important discussions the wireless industry needs to have centers on the densification toolkit.

It’s no longer sufficient to say it’s a toolkit approach. Rather, we need to explore the “decision tree” which informs which tool or tools to use based upon the unique requirements.

To jumpstart the conversation, SOLiD is sponsoring a forthcoming paper to be published by our friend David Chambers at ThinkSmallCell.

Meanwhile, how do you view the decision tree? And how is it different for operators compared to the enterprise?

 

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SOLiD was short-listed for the Best LTE Backhaul Solution award for INFINITY ACCESS

 

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Jennifer Pigg Clark (VP at 451 Research)

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Andy Germano (VP at Small Cell Forum)

 

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Nicolas Cotanis (CTO at Reverb Networks) & Ken Sandfeld (EVP at SOLiD)

 

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Mike Collado (VP of Marketing at SOLiD)

 

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Paul Gowans (Mobile Strategy Director at JDSU)

 

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Dr. Derek Peterson (CTO at Boingo)

 

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Chief Alan Perdue (Executive Director at Safer Buildings Coalition)

 

Screen Shot 2014 11 24 at 4.14.31 PM Densification is a Toolbox Approach. So, Now What?

Stuart Carlaw’s Presentation from Small Cells Americas

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Climbing the Mountain

November 6th, 2014

Team SOLiD celebrated Founder’s Day today which marks 16 years since the company’s inception in Seoul, Korea.

The cornerstone of the celebration includes climbing a nearby mountain – an activity which symbolizes our collective determination and ambition as an organization.

 

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Dr. Joon Chung (Chairman) addresses the team

 

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Seth Buechley (President, North America) and Dr. Seung Hee Lee (CEO)

 

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Ken Sandfeld (EVP, North America), Seth Buechley & Seung Hee Lee

 

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Jung Hoon Kim (Vice President, Global Sales), Henry Woo (Senior Vice President), Seth Buechley, Ken Sandfeld, Dr. Joon Chung & Dr. Seung Hee Lee

 

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Henry Woo, Ken Sandfeld, Jung Hoon Kim & Dr. Byung Joo Yoo (General Manager, Japan)

 

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Ken Sandfeld & Seung Jong Kim (Global Sales Director)

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oDAS + Collocation = FTW

October 27th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014 10 27 at 10.24.54 AM oDAS + Collocation = FTWIn our travels, we consistently hear two themes:

  1. The need to densify highly populated urban spaces
  2. The desire to break the single-purpose model for densification

In our presentations, we have observed that the wireless industry is embarking upon a densification evolution and revolution.

Not only are existing strategies being refined and repackaged (i.e., DAS, Small Cells) but bold new approaches and architectures are being conceived (i.e., Cloud RAN).

Not surprisingly, the above needs are influencing the evolution and revolution.

Where, oh where, are the small cells you promised?

Call it the cellular city capacity phenomenon: you’re in a dense urban area and you’ve got 5 bars but can’t send data or connect a call.

This reveals a strategy fallacy which informs that traditional methods of blasting macro or overpowered “big iron” DAS are inefficient and ineffective for improving and filling holes for capacity and coverage in certain urban concentrated areas.

Earlier this year, we blogged that predictions that the consumption of mobile data will increase more than six times over the next 5 years is really just the tip of the iceberg. The stunningly significant observation is that 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. And 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.

Hello!

Once upon a time, small cells were being positioned to fill these capacity holes. And they still will likely play a significant role – some day.

But the widescale deployment of outdoor small cells has been delayed because of the absence of a repeatable business process that addresses power and backhaul; site acquisition and permitting and; ongoing management of the infrastructure.

Which has moved certain industry analysts including Joe Madden at Mobile Experts to observe that oDAS might be the preferred solution.

Screen Shot 2014 10 27 at 10.21.46 AM oDAS + Collocation = FTW

Screen Shot 2014 10 27 at 10.22.03 AM oDAS + Collocation = FTW

But wait, there’s more

There’s a voice within the wireless industry that’s growing louder which seeks new business models for reducing data costs and generating new revenue opportunities based upon collocating multiple services on host infrastructure.

Our friend Stuart Carlaw at ABI Research refers to today’s solutions outlook as being stuck in an “infinite coverage and capacity loop”.

The vision is to drive revenue through OTT (over the top) services that extend service beyond basic connectivity.

It’s kind of like the cable company’s triple play model which was first introduced in the late 1990’s for bundling video, voice and internet.

Only now, stakeholders seek to strap on a dizzying array of services including the obvious in both multi-operator cellular and WiFi. Plus highly specialized applications such as public-safety, advertising beacons, street lighting and cameras for security and traffic monitoring.

It’s happening now

In response to the market conditions, vendors are innovating and bringing to market host solutions for collocating multiple services.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, a joint venture between Ericsson and Phillips launched Zero Site which combines cellular radios (small cells) and LED light fixtures on a pole which can be deployed in dense urban areas.

Screen Shot 2014 10 27 at 10.21.07 AM 1024x577 oDAS + Collocation = FTW

From Ericsson Zero Site Launch PowerPoint Presentation

Recently, SOLiD launched CityDAS at Super Mobility Week which packs even more capability into a pillar designed to blend into the streetscape.

Screen Shot 2014 10 27 at 10.21.25 AM oDAS + Collocation = FTW

From SOLiD CityDAS Launch Presentation

These solutions (and others) seek to address the key challenges of urban densification including a repeatable business process and multi-service support.

Power and Backhaul:

  • Deployed on city sidewalks, street pillars can tap into nearby power and fiber.

Screen Shot 2014 10 27 at 10.19.12 AM oDAS + Collocation = FTWMunicipal Approvals:

  • According to Joe Madden, “When asking for city approval for construction permits, most DAS integrators are finding that cities have figured out the DAS game: They will approve your DAS system if you include their public safety systems for free. “Solutions such as CityDAS can be painted and stamped to meet city aesthetic standards.

Ease of Deployment and Maintenance:

  • Zero Site and CityDAS can be deployed in a single day.
  • The base of CityDAS provides access for maintenance but is secure to vandals.

Flexibility and Scalability:

Multi-Service and OTT:

  • The CityDAS can host the collocation of multiple services including small cells, public-safety DAS and repeaters, WiFi access points, beacons, CCTV cameras and more.
  • Zero Site combines small cell radios and city lighting.

Green Power Consumption:

  • Zero Site and CityDAS have intelligence to conserve energy by stepping up and down power and services based on use parameters.

 

Your turn

We believe the market will push – no, demand – a repeatable process and multi-purpose business model for densifying highly populated urban areas.

Joe Madden writes: “We expect the DAS ecosystem to provide the capital, the RF planning, and the installation technicians to make Carrier Wi-Fi and Small Cells a bigger success.”

What do you think?

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Can Wireless Technology Keep Fans Safe in Stadiums?

October 15th, 2014

SETH3 1024x768 Can Wireless Technology Keep Fans Safe in Stadiums?When I was growing up, my dad took me to a Redskins game at RFK Stadium.

After the game and in a remote, dark area of the parking lot, we were approached by two men who demanded that my dad give them his wallet. My dad was a big man who stood over six-feet-two and calmly replied, “Mike, let’s go find a policeman.” And with that, the two men vanished – presumably to try to boost someone else.

Several years ago, I attended a Monday Night Football game at FedEx Field.

As we waited among the sea of fans waiting for the gates to open, I was at-once impressed with and intimidated by the power of the group: one had to “move” with the crowd or risk being knocked down.

Recently, a fan was severely injured in a fight that occurred in a bathroom at Levi’s Stadium. (Read Kai Savaree-Ruess’ article here in SportTechie)

Earlier this year, SOLiD president Seth Buechley observed in an article published in the Q1 Stadium Tech Report from Mobile Sports Report that:

Venue owners and content providers alike are pulling out all the stops toward the goal of keeping fans entertained and engaged. In-stadium investment and innovations to enhance fan engagement abound; from massive LED video boards, live twitter feeds, half-time live entertainment, and kitschy games of picking the right car or mascot to win the derby, venue operators feel the pressure to meet rising fan entertainment expectations. But what about just keeping fans safe?

Keeping fans safe in and around stadiums and arenas

According to ​Savaree-Ruess the responsibility of fan safety belongs to the venue.

“…the 49ers can’t control what their players do outside of team facilities. ​But the 49ers actually can control what goes on inside its facilities. The team has an obligation – moral, if not legal – to ensure that its patrons are in a safe environment. That is why I cannot understand the chorus of demands that land on Jed York’s desk for clarity on the Harbaugh situation, a solution to the logistical issues with the new stadium and action on McDonald, but barely a peep about addressing fan violence.”

This view is being advanced throughout the country via legislation. For example, California has responded to several well-publicized incidents of stadium violence in Assembly Bill 2464 (Improving Personal Safety at Stadiums Act) authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles). The bill requires major-league sports stadiums in California to clearly post the numbers fans can use to call or text-message stadium security.

Savaree-Ruess suggests the solution is rooted in security personnel.

“Put uniformed security everywhere. Put them at every gate; position them at every tunnel; make them visible from everywhere in the concourse; and, yes, put them at the entrance of every bathroom.”

In practice, Buechley notes that it’s “stadium security (from within the stadium) and not the police (coming from outside the stadium) who is best equipped to quickly respond and prevent an injury from becoming more serious.”

But is a show of force pragmatic?

The role of wireless technology in fan safety

Fans Against Violence which is a fan-based organization that “aims to improve and enhance game day experiences at professional sports venues across the United States and around the world” is an advocate of – among other things – using smartphones to keep fans safe.

The #1 item on their list of Game Day Safety Tips is “Be sure your cell phone is fully charged.” The organization also curates a list of Game Day Hotlines and Security Text codes for NFL, MLB and MLS teams and stadiums.

Buechley concurs that smartphones and in-building distributed antenna system (DAS) networks capable of supporting wireless capacity and coverage for tens of thousands of fans is a key strategy for keeping fans safe:

“When people cannot use their smartphones to communicate they feel less safe. If a phone doesn’t work in a hotel, hospital or shopping mall people may just feel disconnected. When a phone doesn’t work in a raucous crowd of 50,000 people, personal and family safety become legitimate concerns. Add a drunk fan or two with deafening crowd noise, and being able to connect with local stadium security can potentially become a big deal. Even simple matters of making plans to meet someone within the stadium become difficult or impossible with no cellular coverage.”

A call to action

For Savaree-Ruess, teams need to take action now.

“Fan violence is becoming a problem; and the team needs to make the financial and logistical commitment to stop it. We, fans, should be able to keep ourselves in-line, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that a small minority simply cannot.”

Clearly, it’s unrealistic to believe that dangerous incidents such as the potential one my dad and I avoided years ago can be completely stopped.

Similarly, it’s clear that when you pack many people into a concentrated space, accidents and incidents are going to occur.

But fan safety needs to be a primary consideration within the overall fan experience.

Venues can afford to retain security and police personnel. As fans, we possess smartphones. Many stadiums have deployed DAS networks. CCTV security cameras are installed throughout venues. Heck, there are even have apps to inform us of which bathroom has the shortest lines.

Fan safety is achievable.

Or as the Buechley article concludes: “Entertainment is good, but feeling safe is paramount.”

Organizations such as SEAT which brings together technologists among sports and entertainment venues have the unique ability to advance the discussion and solution.

MSR and SportTechie also have the platform and opportunity to keep safety as top-of-mind as player stats and whiz-bang technologies.

Your turn

What is or isn’t being done to keep fans safe in stadiums and arenas?

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