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New Problems Require New Thinking

By Mike Collado
July 7th, 2016

Mike Rosato – GIANT Solutions

At the recent InBuilding Wireless Technology Seminar and Networking event hosted on the campus of Texas Christian University (TCU) and presented by DASpedia, Mike Rosato (GIANT Solutions) – who emceed the proceedings – shared two memorable points…

First was a story that somehow linked McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York to the movie Elf to – um – me. I think it was a compliment. Maybe?

The second was the observation that the wireless densification industry is changing in both evolutionary and revolutionary ways which usher in new problems that will require new thinking in order to solve.

Case in point, Mike identified the Middleprise which SOLiD presented on during the 2015 DAS & Small Cells Congress (and around which SOLiD has continued to publish thought leadership). Not only is new technology required but also new business models.

That’s because the Middleprise represents what we believe is the demarcation line between the venues where carriers will help fund the in-building wireless network and where they will not.

For those venues that miss the cut, it is incumbent upon the venue owner to fund the network. And that means the industry must conceive solutions – as our friend Joe Madden (Mobile Expertsdescribes here – that resonate with the venue owner.

Mike Collado and the TCU Horned Frog

The importance of solving for the Middleprise was illustrated by TCU’s Steve Ambrose who identified in his presentation the multiple student dormitories and student buildings that get built each year. All are LEED-certified which means there is an in-building wireless problem. All fall within the Middleprise size range (between 100k and 500k square feet) which means that carriers likely won’t fund indoor solutions. And, oh yeah, TCU students don’t subscribe to just a single carrier so the in-building network needs to support Red, Blue, Yellow and Magenta.

As a result, Ambrose told the audience of OEMs, Neutral Hosts, Integrators and VARs that he needed Middleprise solutions now – underscoring this plea through a confessional story about a parent whose frustrations over the inability to reach her TCU-enrolled student reached the desk of the university chancellor!

Yet the final panel of the day (on which I had the chance to participate) revealed that there currently exists no such Middleprise silver bullet or 100% solution that panel moderator Earl Lum (EJL Wireless Research) had hoped to find among the representative DAS, Small Cell and WiFi OEMs. Which is perhaps why as a launching point for the panel discussion, Lum cheekily depicted a unicorn.

Let’s be clear, the Middleprise represents a once-in-a-decade opportunity for new market leadership. Or as SOLiD Americas president Ken Sandfeld says, it’s about unlocking and solving for the “other 80% of buildings.” It’s going to require not a single solution but multiple solutions.

More importantly, solving for the Middleprise is not just about technology. It’s about business models. It’s about infrastructure. And it’s about compliance with public-safety requirements.

New problems require new thinking. Over the coming months, we’ll wrestle with not only unlocking the Middleprise but also the evolving Tier 1 market. Check back often for new posts.

Speaking of which… In our next post, we’ll share insights from the panel we’re hosting at the NEDAS Boston Workshops & Networking event: “The 7 Things that Must Happen to Unlock the Middleprise.”


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We’ve Got a History with DAS Congress

By Mike Collado
May 11th, 2016

Next week marks the sixth year that SOLiD has participated at the DAS and Small Cells Congress.

So it only seems appropriate to take a trip down Memory Lane. Come join me…





In our first year at what was then simply known as DAS Congress hosted at the Aria, SOLiD rallied around the theme of Bringing LTE to Life through a portfolio of modular indoor and outdoor DAS Remotes that offered guaranteed RF power control and fiber efficiency and the benefit of sharing a common head-end.

Our customer at Amazon presented a case study of SOLiD at its headquarters campus.

And we shared insights to the Evolution of DAS which introduced the industry to a “Shared DAS” business model in which the venue owns the network; each carrier pays their share to join the network; the integrator deploys the network; and SOLiD handles carrier relations (i.e., leasing and program management) and network management (i.e., monitoring, maintenance and support).

Oh, and we ran out of hors d’oeuvres when just about everyone in attendance packed into our meeting room for a cocktail reception!

Read our blog post and see photos from 2011 here…


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In our return to DAS Congress hosted at Caesars, SOLiD showcased its first generation 20W high-power DAS Remote known then as TITAN which joined the 1W ALLIANCE multi-operator DAS lineup and EXPRESS single-operator solution.

We presented on the practical application of SOLiD’s WDM optical transport solutions in global markets after having been incubated and deployed in South Korea to enable CRAN, Small Cell Backhaul and WiFi Offload.

In what was to become the framework for the founding of the Safer Buildings Coalition, we introduced a new thinking for public-safety communications that considered both the “public” and first responder communication requirements indoors.

We hosted a mind-blowing dinner party for our customers (sorry, it’s a Fight Club thing… I can’t share any more details) and enjoyed the hospitality of iBwave’s post-DAS Congress cocktail reception at nearby Paris.

Read our blog posts and see photos from 2012 here and here



DAS Congress continued to make the rounds at Las Vegas casinos – this time at Planet Hollywood – and, as a sign of the times, appended Small Cells to its name.

Leveraging our experience at high-profile stadia including Daytona International Speedway, SOLiD hosted a panel of industry experts representing the stadium owner, wireless operator, neutral host and integrator to tackle the challenge of bringing the home game-day wireless experience to the stadium including the – as Joe Madden at Mobile Experts observes – seeking to find balance between the need for ROI and the high public profile requirement for coverage and capacity.

CRAN emerged this year as a hot topic at industry conferences, and SOLiD hosted SK Telecom, Ericsson and the Small Cell Forum to discuss this strategic architecture for scaling capacity and enabling new 3GPP cellular technologies as well as DAS, Small Cells and WiFi edge densification solutions. During the panel, SK Telecom presented its CRAN deployment in South Korea.

Of course we did our share of mingling by throwing a cocktail party for our customers and partners.

Read our blog post and see photos from 2013 here


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As the industry discussion at conferences increasingly gravitated to DAS versus Small Cells, SOLiD presented the thesis that the wireless industry has entered into a “decade of densification” in which the wireless network now and in the future requires both evolutionary and revolutionary technologies.

And we counseled that a pragmatic “toolkit approach” is needed that leverages the right solutions for the unique requirements of the project; or as Dr. Derek Peterson at Boingo rhetorically asked, “Why wouldn’t you use every tool at your disposal?”

We debuted our mid-power 5W DAS Remote which delivers just the right power, capacity and speed to meet LTE wireless demands and expectations. We similarly showcased our CityDAS Collocation Street Pillar for the deployment of wireless capacity and coverage in dense urban areas precisely where it’s needed.

Lastly, we got busted: it seems our invitation-only cocktail reception was too popular and interfered with the conference soiree.

(Cue the the music… “Bad boys, bad boys. What’cha gonna do? What’cha gonna do when they come for you?)

See photos from 2014 here, here and here



DAS & Small Cells Congress took a vacation from Las Vegas and headed instead to the Big Easy at the Roosevelt Hotel.

SOLiD turned the traditional DAS Tour sideways through an introduction to the emerging “middle enterprise” market segment that – using the host hotel as an example – revealed the unique challenges for enabling capacity and coverage that include business funding models, the technology toolkit, network design and infrastructure, and public-safety requirements.

The Middleprise gave this big and complicated industry segment a name and ignited an industry discussion.

We also launched the new 20W DAS Remote that features our THOR™ amplifier technology to improve power efficiency by up to 40% comparatively while also significantly reducing the physical footprint.

Read our blog posts and see photos from 2015 here, here


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Now it just wouldn’t be fair to reveal everything about this year’s DAS & Small Congress which returns – appropriately – to the Aria.

However, SOLiD will present thought leadership on Edge Densification.

We have a product announcement.

And we have a meeting room lounge where you can get recharge both yourself and your smartphone.

Contact us to make sure we’re on your dance card next week.

And tell us, what is your favorite edition of DAS Congress?

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Densification, Densification, Densification!

By Nick Marshall
March 15th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 12.00.03 PMJust like in real estate there are 3 keys to success in the world of radio coverage and capacity distribution and they are, in no particular order, Densification, Densification and Densification. This is particularly important at the edge of the network where it connects to subscribers’ handsets, smartphones, tablets and other end points like IoT or M2M sensors.

Where is the Edge?

The Edge is where the mobile signals from the macro tower start to run out of range and a user starts to experience a drop in data rate or lack of coverage. This is caused by any number or combination of factors including RF signal attenuation due to physical impairments, obstructions or interference, and the dynamic requirements of users. The Edge can be outdoors, in a building or venue or in high traffic density locations like stadiums and underground in subways.

Living on the Edge…

The macro cellular network is simply not designed for life at the edge as demand for coverage and capacity is dynamic with rapidly changing coverage requirements and capacity demands. With more mobile devices (think smartphone, tablets, laptops and IoT/M2M) requiring wireless connectivity, access points at the edge need to become much more dense, dynamic and proactive. In some respects the Edge must proactively follow the traffic demand. Mobile traffic is “tidal.” For example there is more demand for capacity in an enterprise between 9am and 5pm during week days than outside of working hours. At a major sporting event outside a stadium on game day the capacity demand is in the car-park before the game and that traffic shifts to the stadium for the game and then back to the car park for after the game. On days which are not game days demand falls to virtually zero.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 11.59.27 AMWhat do we mean by Edge Densification?

Edge Densification is a major trend and has been the driver behind Heterogeneous Networks (HetNets) for some time now. It means increasing the radio throughput per square meter by any means possible in both the Transport and Access layers of the RAN.

In Transport, this means maximizing fiber allocation from the carrier’s demarcation point deep into the Edge, leveraging both CWDM and DWDM to enable Centralized RAN (C-RAN) architectures now and using NFV and SDN to transition to Cloud RAN in the future. Fiber transport can function both as backhaul and fronthaul and is a critical part of C-RAN and basestation hoteling. It also enables virtualization of the baseband in the cloud or data center as well as MEC (Mobile Edge Computing) or IT functionality at the Edge to further increase densification.

In the Access layer, densification techniques would include using more efficient protocols such as LTE with carrier aggregation or aggregating with Wi-Fi in the unlicensed bands for data offload, 3GPP standards such as eICIC, CoMP and higher order QAM and MIMO can all be deployed to densify the Edge and increase throughput per square meter.

Although still to be specified, densification will continue into 5G as one of the drivers of a massively dense small cell underlay/overlay. This will probably operate in the millimeter wave bands with short range and low power for high frequency reuse.

Together Transport and Access can be used to enable the increases in coverage and capacity needed for Edge Densification. Using Edge Densification, MNOs can respond to the exploding growth in data traffic and the proliferation of wireless connections to subscribers and to IoT devices. The MNO must densify its network and balance between maximizing the use of a limited asset or spectrum with ever more efficient transport such as DWDM and access protocols such as LTE-Advanced Pro or 5G, and obtain an increase in throughput per square meter of its network while lowering TCO.

Are There Edge Densification Business Models?

The traditional MNO ecosystem has reached a level of “Capex Exhaustion” for in-building and venue densification and property and venue owners must look towards neutral hosts or 3rd party owners (3PO), value added resellers (VARs) and system integrators to deploy and densify their in-building networks. 3PO’s like Tower companies and infrastructure owners are already stepping up in the US – many Towercos are reporting significant double digit leasing revenue growth in recent earnings. VARs are leveraging multiple OEM relationships to handle the maximum variety of deployment scenarios. There is also an emerging role to be played by the building owners and real estate companies themselves to deploy DAS in the “middleprise.” Neutral host and SCaaS offerings from small cells are emerging to compete with traditional DAS systems as do the various “flavors” of Wi-Fi – LWA, LTE-U, LAA and MulteFire.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 12.00.44 PMWhat are the Opportunities and Obstacles for Edge Densification?

In the US the majority of the big venues have been done and DAS is readily available. According to the US government there are 335,000 commercial buildings with floor area >50,000 square feet for a total of 44 billion square feet in the US today. With < 6% aggregate floor space penetration by in-building wireless systems there is a huge opportunity – this is the Middleprise. In addition with in-building traffic growing 7X by 2020 and 4G and Wi-Fi outpacing that to reach a staggering 53 Exabytes/month by 2020, there is a clear need for densification.

SOLiD at MWC 2016

I recently had the pleasure of discussing this topic on a panel at MWC 2016 with Ken Sandfeld – President and CEO of SOLiD North America, Ray LaChance – Co-Founder and CEO of ZenFi Networks and Chris Jaeger Managing Director Transit Systems/Large Venues from BAI Communications. BAI’s subsidiary Transit Wireless built and operates the New York City Subway DAS which runs over ZenFi fiber and uses SOLiD DAS equipment.

You can watch the videos here:


The New York City Subway is one of the World’s oldest (1st station opened in 1904 [world’s oldest is London-1890]) and largest (by number of stations). There are 422 stations in the New York Subway system, and Transit Wireless equipped the 279 of these which are underground. This is the World’s largest DAS – 279 subway stations, with 1.6 billion riders/year (averages 5.3 million during the week, 3 million on Saturdays and 2.4 million on Sundays) and a great example of Edge Densification.

(Learn more about this project here)

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We’re All Living on the Edge

By Mike Collado
March 14th, 2016

When we started blogging about densification in late 2010, both the industry landscape and vocabulary were significantly different. Heck, we didn’t even use the word “densification”.

Much has evolved over the last five-and-a-half years…


Which is why – as we stated in our last post – that it seems necessary to update our the name of our blog to better convey the SOLiD’s role within the wireless ecosystem.

(Insert drumroll here…)

Welcome to Living on the Edge.

Why this name? Put simply, the edge is where we spend our days working, playing and living.

Here’s why it’s apropos: the macro cellular network is not designed for life at the edge. Which means that enabling communications at the edge requires solutions and strategies that deliver coverage and capacity from the edge of the carrier core network to the building (indoors) or pole (outdoors) and ultimately to the handset.

We call this Edge Densification. And SOLiD possesses the portfolio and experience to provide these complex solutions that include Fronthaul and Backhaul for C-RAN and Base Station Hoteling strategies; Passive Optical LAN as a building block for RF and IP inside the building; and next-generation amplifier-radio solutions for distribution of RF indoors and outdoors.

At Mobile World Congress, we joined our friends Nick Marshall (ABI Research), Chris Jaeger (BAI Communications) and Ray LaChance (ZenFi Networks) to discuss Edge Densification with TIA NOW’s Abe Nejad. Check out our videos for a primer on Edge Densification!


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