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Is it Possible to Avoid “Rip and Replace”?

By Mike Collado
October 5th, 2015
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Photo courtesy of NEDAS

Last week I had the privilege to moderate a panel on design and infrastructure trends at the NEDAS Toronto Workshops & Social. Joining me were Alex Berezhnoy (LinkWave); Ron Poulin (BTI Wireless) and Edmond Zauner (Anritsu).

As a starting point, we referenced James Carlini who states that: All the cabling needed to build the network should fit the lifespan of the building, not the lifespan of the technology that is hanging off of it.

I challenged the panelists, “Is that realistic?”

An easy approach is to examine whether the building is greenfield (new construction) or brownfield (existing construction). If the former, there is a chance to achieve obsolescence avoidance by pulling additional fiber. After all, fiber – theoretically – is nearly infinitely scalable. But there’s potentially more to it.

Is it a Tier 1 (>500k sq. ft.) or Tier 2 building? Logic suggests that a Tier 1 venue such as a stadium would boast a budget capable of “over-engineering” the infrastructure to future-proof it. On the other hand, stadia tend to be most impacted by the data tsunami. Many of the in-building systems succumb to a “rip and replace” scenario after a few short years of use.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 11.27.05 AMA Tier 2 building – which we call the middleprise – comes with different challenges. Namely, a requirement for a lower total solution cost compared to mainstream Tier 1 in-building projects. Will there be budget to pull additional infrastructure? And to address existing venues, will solutions providers need to find ways to leverage existing fiber and copper infrastructure with an understanding that perfection is the enemy of good. IOW, solve the problem today.

In addition to the size of the building, what goes on inside the building may challenge whether the infrastructure gets modeled after the building or the technology lifespan. How we approach a hospital may be different from an office building – at least from a level of acceptability for the “cost of disruption” which Carlini describes.

Other factors include whether multiple operators and wireless services will be supported. While it is pretty standard to support commercial cellular and WiFi, it is less clear on whether there is a public-safety communications requirement. As mobile use evolves, the placement of cellular antennae and access points must be flexible to meet changing densification needs. And public-safety may or may not be able to share infrastructure with commercial services; currently, it may not be advantageous, but when FirstNet (LTE) gets rolled out, perhaps sharing infrastructure has both technical and business benefits. (Learn more about public-safety codes, solutions and business models in The Imperative)

In the September issue of AGL’s Small Cell Magazine, I observed in an article entitled “The Middleprise: A Big and Complicated Market Opportunity” that: …the ideal infrastructure needs to provide a converged network where a single backbone serves multiple services including commercial cellular, public-safety and IP (WiFi). This optimal approach enables the infrastructure to stay in place while the end pieces get swapped out to avoid expense rip and replace. 

Indeed, obsolescence avoidance is a goal. But its long-term outcome may need to be tempered with the need to achieve current timeline and TCO budget requirements.

For more on design and infrastructure, hear from iBwave during our middleprise tour of the host hotel from DAS Congress 2015.

What do you think?

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The “Middleprise” is Conspicuously Absent at CTIA

By Mike Collado
September 8th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 2.26.00 PMA quick glance at the agenda for the education sessions at CTIA’s Super Mobility 2015 reveals a continued steady diet of Small Cells, C-RAN and Large Venues but little to no exploration of the Middleprise (the middle-enterprise market that is defined as venues having 100k to 500k square feet). And that seems like a big miss.

This triumvirate of topics falls into either the category of old news or premature news.

In spite of bold predictions that include the death knell for of DAS (distributed antenna system) or the prognostication of the year of the small cell, small cells are not seeing widespread take-up, a reality David Chambers at ThinkSmallCell observed in the more somber tone at Small Cells World earlier this summer.

Although C-RAN – which Frank Rayal at Zona Partners refers to as “the software base station” – has gained traction with China Mobile and SK Telecom in markets that are challenged by the “data tsunami”, here is the U.S., the “capacity crunch” is not yet acute; we’re still focused on solving for coverage.

Finally, Large Venues (Tier 1 venues having over 1 Million square feet like stadiums, arenas and large college campuses) “are nearing the saturation point” according to Jim O’Gorman (Communications Engineering LLC).

The Middleprise is neither old news or premature news. The market is real and ready, and represents a once-in-a-decade opportunity for new market leadership.

In a recent contributed article to AGL’s Small Cell Magazine, I define the Middleprise as a potential $20B dollar market that consists of hotels, hospitals, college buildings, retail and multi-level Class A office towers where people rely upon smartphones to stay connected and safe. Oh, and less than 2% of this space has been addressed.

According to Earl Lum at EJL Wireless Research, the industry will migrate downstream from the Tier 1 venues to the Tier 1.5 and 2 Middleprise.

The Middleprise is a big deal. It challenges the technology toolkit, funding and business models, design and infrastructure considerations, and how venues will comply with fire and building code requirements for indoor public-safety communications.

Team SOLiD will discuss the Middleprise challenges and opportunities this week at SOLiD Basecamp (PMR #306 at Sands Expo). Please schedule time to meet or drop by to fuel up and visit one of our learning kiosks.

Safe travels and see you in Las Vegas!


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The “Public” in Public-Safety Communications

By Mike Collado
August 25th, 2015

IMG_1676The 2015 APCO Annual Conference was both pivotal and revelatory for the advancement of in-building public-safety communications.

Team SOLiD returned to APCO for the fourth year which, for a Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) manufacturer, makes us a veteran.

I recall feeling like a pioneer in 2012 while discussing in-building wireless solutions with AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) when the conference was hosted in Minneapolis during which the first board members were announced for the nascent FirstNet initiative. Little did I know then that SOLiD would host the newly-elected FirstNet CEO Michael Poth and newly-titled President TJ Kennedy as well as current and former board members Chief Jeff Johnson and Chief Charles “Chuck” Dowd at a cocktail reception to launch a new eBook called The Imperative which details the obstacles and options facing public-safety communications inside public and private buildings. (Thanks to the Long View Gallery for hosting our reception!)

(Check our APCO recap posts from 2012, 2013 and 2014 to map the public-safety evolution. And watch videos from industry luminaries Jonathan Adelstein (PCIA), Rob LeGrande (The Digital Decision), James Teel (Harris) and SOLiD’s Seth Buechley)

A pivotal shift has occurred within the public-safety industry whereby the topic of in-building is no longer met with a puzzled or skeptical look.

When SOLiD presented back in 2012, we observed in a blog post that “Based upon the number of heads that were both nodding in agreement and disagreement during the panel, the public safety and commercial cellular industries need more forums for debate and education as well as programs designed to solve the common problem of public safety communication.”

In contrast, an industry colleague was surprised that nearly every attendee in his presentation this year was familiar with DAS.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 3.24.02 PMBut while developing The Imperative (download a free copy here), it became clear – as its editor, John Celentano, states in the eBook’s opening pages – that, “…public-safety communications is not relegated to police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS). Its about the general public, too.”

This is revelatory because most people likely envision a fire fighter when they think of the words “public” and “safety.” As Don Brittingham, Vice President for Public Safety Policy at Verizon observed during our launch reception, the general public is the “public” in public safety.

Donny Jackson, Editor at Urgent Communications contributed to the foreward of The Imperative and writes:

“From a public-safety perspective, good indoor coverage for customers and first responders provides multiple benefits during an emergency response.

Initially, strong commercial indoor coverage lets consumers who are indoors dial 911 to report an emergency via their cellular phone—the device they are most comfortable using, and it should provide better location information in the near future. This can save valuable time in circumstances when seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

Once first responders are on the scene, a good indoor public-safety system allows firefighters, law enforcement and EMS to communicate better and more efficiently using LMR voice today, with the potential to leverage Band 14 LTE and transmit sensor data via myriad technologies in the near future. This data capability includes the ability to track the location of first responders, as well as monitor their health via biometric technology.

When first-response efforts have gone awry, communications difficulties almost always are cited as a key contributing factor. This is understandable, because organizing any endeavor—from the construction of a sports arena to planning a family reunion—tends to happen more smoothly when strong lines of communications are open.

In short, a facility with good indoor wireless-communications coverage for consumers and public safety is inherently safer than those that lack this functionality. Without good indoor coverage, there likely will a delay in reporting an emergency situation and the response effort often is delayed, which can lead to increased property loss, injuries and fatalities.”


Chief Alan Perdue (Safer Buildings Coalition), Mike Collado (SOLiD) and Donny Jackson (Urgent Communications)

This observation was echoed on a panel moderated by Donny Jackson where I joined Chief Alan Perdue, Executive Director of the Safer Buildings Coalition (SOLiD is a member). Chief Perdue shared that the majority of 911 calls are made using a smartphone and that, similarly, the majority of emergency incidents occur indoors.

According to John Celentano, “…it is vital that both public safety and commercial cellular to work together to solve for public-safety communications.” 

The common denominator, however, is the Building Owner – the key stakeholder that can impact in-building wireless communications for both cellular and public-safety – who, unfortunately, remains noticeably absent from these discussions at APCO.

We’ll be back with a separate post to explore the challenges and opportunities for the Building Owner to address the public-safety imperative.

Tell us what you observed at APCO that is pivotal and/or revelatory in the comments.



Contributors to The Imperative: John Celentano (Editor), Donny Jackson (Urgent Communications), Clark Lazare (AT&T), Mike Collado (SOLiD), Manuel Ojeda (Morcom), Chief Charles “Chuck” Dowd, Chief Alan Perdue (Safer Buildings Coalition), Lori Blair (Hutton Communications) and Rob LeGrande (The Digital Decision)



Chief Charles “Chuck” Dowd discusses the public-safety imperative



Chief Alan Perdue discusses collaboration among venues, wireless operators and public safety



Mike Collado (SOLiD) and Lori Blair (Hutton Communications) welcome attendees to The Imperative launch reception



SOLiD Quad-Band Public-Safety DAS at the Hutton booth



SOLiD’s Ken Haberer and Matt Atkins at the APCO Block Party hosted at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum



Matt Atkins (SOLiD) and Chief Alan Perdue (Safer Buildings Coalition) at the APCO Block Party



Delivering thought leadership at APCO



Bike Art at the Washington Convention Center. There were also kitchen stools, kayaks and guitars!

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The Public Safety Imperative

By Mike Collado
August 10th, 2015

IMG_1214We live in a world where we take our personal safety somewhat for granted.

For the most part, the processes, procedures and functionality of our public safety systems keep pace with requirements. Commonplace “tools” such as fire call boxes, e911 systems and the radios used by emergency first responders have evolved out of necessity and have been fueled by innovation.

In many ways, wireless is paramount to public safety. (See our most-read public safety posts here, here and here)

Police, fire and (EMS emergency medical services) personnel must communicate and coordinate efforts when they arrive on the scene of an emergency. The general public also must be able to communicate. After all, if you or I can’t be notified about an incident or call for help, first responders won’t know to help us.

The importance of in-building wireless communications for public safety cannot be overstated. An estimated 80 percent of all wireless calls originate or terminate inside buildings. Similarly, a majority of emergency incidents occur indoors.

Creating safer in-building environments for occupants and first responders is paramount. Call it the Public Safety Imperative.

To be sure, The Imperative is shared by the public safety, commercial wireless and venue owner ecosystems.

To meet the challenges of The Imperative, the stakeholders must implement fire and building codes and standards for indoor public safety communications; develop and innovate a toolkit of robust wireless communication technology and networks; and identify business models to overcome the burdens of complying with an “unfunded mandate.”

FirstNet is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a new public safety broadband network (PSBN). But it’s scope is primarily focused on achieving outdoor communications, not indoor. It is vital that indoors does not get left behind.

We took the first step to achieving this vision several years ago to as a founding member of the Safer Buildings Coalition, an independent, non-profit organization focused on advancing policies and ideas that lead to more large and medium sized buildings being served with commercial and public safety wireless coverage. (Make a difference by becoming a member: info(at) or 888.600.1011)

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 3.24.02 PMNext week at APCO 2015 in Washington, D.C., we’re launching – in collaboration with Hutton Communications (read our partnership announcement from APCO 2014 here) – the inaugural publication of THE IMPERATIVE, an eBook in which we consulted with many of the industry’s leading experts and proponents in public safety communications to tap into their deep knowledge and experience on the topics of public safety codes, first responder operations, wireless technology, and telecommunications networks.

To receive a free copy, please stop by Booth #1709 (Hutton Communications) during APCO. Or follow SOLiD on LinkedIn and/or on Twitter for instructions on who to download THE IMPERATIVE.

Together, SOLiD and Hutton personnel will showcase in-building solutions including the SOLiD quad-band public safety distributed antenna system (DAS) with support for first responder and essential two-way radio frequencies including 700/800,150/450 MHz.

And if you’re an early riser, plan to attend the “Making Buildings Safer Through Wireless Technology” session on Sunday, August 16 at 9:30 AM hosted by Safer Buildings Coalition executive director Chief Alan Perdue (ret.) and moderated by my friend Donny Jackson, editor of Urgent Communications.

Thanks for reading.

As always please share your thoughts in the comments.

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