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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.


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

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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.

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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.

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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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Teenagers, Standards & Education: Themes at BICSI Fall Conference In-Building Panel

October 6th, 2014

IMG 0140 Teenagers, Standards & Education: Themes at BICSI Fall Conference In Building PanelI had the privilege last week to lead a panel of industry experts at the BICSI Fall Conference to examine the state of the in-building wireless industry – “Revolution and Evolution: Densifying the Network Through DAS and Small Cells”. The session fostered numerous observations and discussions that lasted well after the allotted hour.

It’s always revelatory to go play in another sandbox rather than one’s own. Meaning – much can be learned simply by going to non-wireless industry conferences.

For starters, it’s a good litmus test to check for alignment. Are we speaking the same language? Are we focused on the right things? Are we making it easy for stakeholders to do their jobs?

The wireless industry loves its acronyms (indeed, every industry has its own vocabulary). But within the BICSI crowd, we quickly discovered found that our “dazz” is often “D-A-S”. Similarly, a comment about coming carrier VoLTE deployments was immediately met with puzzled looks and a question of it meaning.

Don’t be fooled: BICSI attracts the smart folks who are in the infrastructure “trenches”.

Compared to a DAS panel I attended at last year’s conference, the majority of attendees in our session possessed experience in designing, deploying and managing a DAS. And true to BICSI membership characteristics, they were mostly technical engineers focused on network design and implementation; no OEMs nor wireless operators.

Here’s what we learned…

Teenage Angst

The in-building market exhibits the paradoxical characteristics of a teenager: mature yet immature.

Small cells – a shrunk down version of a macro network Remote Radio Head (RRH) – are part of the toolkit to cost-effectively densify smaller buildings. However, this strategy continues to lack an ubiquitous business process for deployment.

Similarly, it has been observed by ABI’s Stuart Carlaw that DAS is evolving at a frightening pace. Unlike small cells, DAS can serve as a “neutral host” to support multiple wireless operators as well as public-safety. Additionally, DAS systems can be tailored to provide appropriate capacity levels through a variety of remote amplifiers including low power (1W/2W), mid-range (5W) and high power (20W). Still, the deployment of LTE has meant end-of-life to many DAS networks – some barely three years old. Plus DAS is unable to deliver analytics beyond a rudimentary level.

As the title of the session alludes, the in-building space continues to mature – much like a teenager. So we expect the paradoxes will continue even as the industry makes significant advances.

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

We fielded a lot of questions…

Who’s responsible for owning the in-building network? 

Joe Mullin (InSite Wireless) believes the best model is for a “neutral host” such as his company to own it. They possess the capital and the repeatable process among OEMs, Integrators and Operators to see a densification project through “on air” completion. Over the past 12 months, neutral host has become the most prevalent model. But another is the carrier-owned model such as AT&T’s Antenna Solutions Group (ASG). This model enables the operator to be the anchor tenant and allows other operators to join (akin to a neutral host). Lastly, a venue itself may choose to own the network; however this model is currently less prevalent among DAS deployments

Who’s responsible for paying for a public-safety network to comply with local mandates?

Bob Kelley (MCS) says the building owner should’t have to shoulder the entire burden of cost to comply with public-safety mandates. A neutral host DAS is a pragmatic solution to deploy public-safety communications in addition to cellular services to meet requirements and mandates. If the DAS is being build – typically – for commercial cellular, it’s advantageous and cost-effective to add the public-safety layer. After all, Kelley says that public-safety should accomplish four things: (1) enable interoperable communications among agencies; (2) provide e911 location; (3) enable the general public to communicate with emergency personnel and; (4) enable emergency personnel to notify and communicate with the general public. (These are issues the Safer Buildings Coalition are wrestling with in which SOLiD is a founding member). However, some mandates prefer to keep public-safety, which increases the cost because it requires a separate and parallel network.

What’s the right tool to enable in-building communications?

The toolkit currently consists of DAS, Small Cells and WiFi. For buildings under 100,000 square feet, small cells are the obvious choice. Conversely, for big venues larger than 500,000 square feet, DAS is best-positioned to address capacity and coverage needs. But that exposes a gray area in-between where we believe there will be a hybrid. For example, consider a hotel / conference center… We might put small cells in the lobby, conference areas and open areas where there is a need for higher capacity and deploy DAS through the rooms. And layer WiFi throughout. We’ll be publishing a paper in the coming months on this thought-provoking topic.

Becoming Experts

With BYOD (bring your own device) initiatives and trends where companies eschew desktop phones (remember those?) for smartphones, the BICSI community can’t avoid in-building.

But is it possible to make it simpler though – say – a “DAS in a box” approach for deploying in-building networks? Dave Dohm (Panduit) and Greg Soffera (P2S Engineering) don’t think so.

Given the unique characteristics of every building, these RCCD engineers say there are too many variables to consider including LEED (green building) materials; leaded walls (in hospitals); floorplans (open areas versus offices); and proximity and sides facing macro towers – all of which affect design and link budget.

However, the in-building industry continues to struggle with the challenge of expertise among those who design, install and manage the networks.

Wireless operators are increasingly requiring training and certification to ensure QoS (quality of service) over DAS networks. OEMs including SOLiD offer sophisticated training programs that cover RF principles as well as product-specific nuances. CIBET has led the industry by providing BICSI accreditation for the in-building RF Engineering and Project Management communities. And PCIA just announced its training initiative vision.

BICSI is actively developing standards and guidelines to define current practices and drive improvement in quality and system performance.

With public-safety rapidly becoming a requirement, standards will be increasingly important including ways to certify that buildings are FirstNet public-safety compliance.

Our Brilliant Panel

Engaging discussions are made great by insightful thought leaders. We were fortunate to have accomplished stakeholders from the network design, infrastructure, OEM and integrator roles including:


We hope to keep the discussion going among the BICSI community through webinars and inclusion on future conference agendas. Stay tuned.


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A view from the stage as attendees start filling up the room


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Fueling up before the panel with Joe Mullin (InSite), Ken Sandfeld (SOLiD), Bob Elliot (Panduit) and Mike Collado (SOLiD)


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Wireless guys can’t resist car shows (the Orange County Auto Show was setting up as BICSI was winding down). Nor unicorns, it seems…


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Test drive?


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Outside the Anaheim Convention Center – Bird of Paradise flower

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