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The MWC Time Warp

By Mike Collado
March 9th, 2015

IMG_0055I’m always impressed how seemingly quickly Mobile World Congress begins and ends despite four extremely long days (show floor hours begin at 9 am and conclude at 7 pm). And that doesn’t account for early breakfast meetings and meandering late night dinners!

(Okay, I put in three days and flew home on Thursday but I wasn’t alone: Ed Gubbins from Current Analysis and Dan Jones from Light Reading were on my flight along with a bunch of other exhausted-looking MWC attendees who all got marooned at snowed-in JFK airport for many, many hours)

Perhaps it’s countless hours of planning and executing one’s exhibit, product launch and business development strategy.

Or a result of what I unaffectionately refer to as the “long short night” of traveling east to Barcelona. (Although I suspect that flying business class as our friend Vicki Livingston did on my flight while I flew in steerage works a whole lot better!)

Maybe it’s hanging out with 93,000 of our closest colleagues from the industry in a paradoxically intimate setting. (Within 30 seconds of exiting our taxi on Day #1 we found ourselves walking with Bo Piekarski from Crown Castle).

Or perusing the industry giants in Hall 3 who use MWC to raise the technology bar through dazzling new initiates both real and far-fetched.

Nor can I discount the rinse-and-repeat cycle of bocadillos, patatas bravas, jamon, paella, cava and sangria. (Thankfully barista extraordinaire Daisy Rollo‘s team was once again in the Spirent stand to keep me caffeinated!)

And so we experienced another frenetic MWC. Here’s some key observations…

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Dr. Erik Pennings (SOLiD Director) presents at the Small Cell Zone

The Network Gets Smarter

From the macro to indoors, the network is moving toward becoming more dynamic to “steer” capacity resources to where they are needed which informs a fundamental shift in how networks are to be architected.

In their now-annual state of the industry manifesto, Real Wireless observes:

“At the core, virtualization, cloud RAN and SDN propose bringing the power of centralized resource into the wireless space. This offers the promise that capacity can be temporarily increased in specific areas when needed, for example at train stations during rush hour and then moved elsewhere. This is a brand-new area and, though the challenges for MNOs are significant (particularly in the cost of front-haul), the potential is clear if these can be addressed.”

The flow of news releases at MWC reflects this as evidenced through RAN initiatives from Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, Telefonica and Brocade.

At the end user level, the same principal applies where capacity moves where it is needed. Imagine a stadium where capacity first supports tailgate festivities in the parking lot and then shifts indoors for kickoff. Or capacity reallocated from the stands during the game to the concession areas for halftime. And finally, from inside the stadium to the parking lot after the game and ultimately redistributed into the macro network as fans board public transportation or become ensnarled in traffic away from the venue.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.44.24 PMOutdoor Densification Revisited

News that AT&T is migrating from its plan to deploy 40,000 small cells begs the question, “So how do we densify urban areas?”

The problem remains to address the spikes when demand exceeds macro capacity by 10 to 15 times.

In our presentation in the Small Cell Zone, we observed that macro and high power oDAS methods are inefficient and ineffective methods. Similarly, small cells don’t necessarily inherently solve the problem due to the absence of a ubiquitous process to address backhaul, site acquisition, monetization and network management to support widescale deployment and the fact that multiple operators exist within the market. (For more, see our post from 2014)

Last year saw the Ericsson and Phillips Zero Site solution. This year Freescale and TTP demonstrated a small cell add-on to existing light pole infrastructure. But both approaches continue to be single-operator centric.

Instead we suggest the need for a broader collocation approach to support the deployment of multiple operators and services on a street pillar such as the SOLiD CityDAS. Why try to solve deployment challenges multiple times when it can be addressed once?

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.42.37 PMThe Enterprise Battleground

One of the most compelling and underserved market segments is the enterprise space that is defined as buildings smaller than 500,000 square feet and larger than 100,000, as noted by our friend David Chambers at ThinkSmallCell who in his MWC recap noted:

“There was a lot of optimism in this market segment, which is definitely growing. I sense that with many initial LTE network investments now well advanced, operators are finally finding time to respond to in-building opportunities – there’s certainly strong demand for it from venue owners.”

This opportunity evokes the thesis of our previous post where I argued that the “toolkit approach” strategy – which consists of DAS, small cells, Wi-Fi, C-RAN and future architectures likely based on passive optical LAN (POL) – needs to evolve.

Indeed, SpiderCloud and Airvana are responding with enterprise small cell solutions that increasingly borrow from the DAS playbook (support for multiple services). Meanwhile the DAS OEMs are advancing solutions that exhibit some of the best characteristics of small cells (ease of deployment).

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).

Hasta la Proxima, Barça!

Mercifully, the prediction by Peter Jarich of a steady diet of 5G didn’t overwhelm us. But, hey, there’s always next year!

For more updates, please see coverage from Fierce Wireless, RCR Wireless and Light Reading as well as posts from ThinkSmallCell and iBwave.

So without further ado, here are the sights of MWC 2015…

 

 

 

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Lemme guess… Flight’s delayed? Hanging our with Vicki (4G Americas) and Abe & Claire (TIA NOW) and others before the long short night

 

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Incoming

 

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The queue for Fast Track at El Prat

 

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The universal phenomenon of one guy doing the work… Thanks Urs!

 

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Let’s get this party started

 

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Team SOLiD

 

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Mike Collado presents on densification trends at the Small Cell Zone

 

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Team SOLiD Dinner

 

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Lunching with Lori and Brian from Hutton Communications

 

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Dr. Pennings presents on C-RAN at Small Cell Zone

 

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Robot directing human at SK Telecom

 

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You can dance if you want to…

 

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Welcome to a 12-hour delay at JFK

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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
Orlando
Exhibitor (Graybar)
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mwc 2015 logoMobile World Congress
3/2 – 3/5
Barcelona
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
Denver
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
Atlanta
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
Panelist
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6/8 – 6/10/2015
New Orleans
Panelist
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6/9 – 6/11
London
Presenter
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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!

 

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An breathtaking start to an amazing week

 

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Seth Buechley inviting us to the journey

 

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Ken Sandfeld sharing our maps for the journey

 

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Eric Carey describes new services and support initiatives

 

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

 

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Listening intently

 

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Team building exercise: planning and adapting

 

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Team leaders were distinguished by fashionable boas during team building exercise

 

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Evening reception after an “all-in” first day

 

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

 

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

 

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Gary Wilson, Kevin Vierling, Chip Laughton

 

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The rowdy table

 

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Day #2 – we worked, really

 

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Teambuilding exercises

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Celebratory bonfire

 

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Sunsetting another great company event

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