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New Beginnings

By Mike Collado
January 25th, 2016
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Foundation Day Celebration at SOLiD’s Seoul Headquarters in 2015

The combination of digging out this weekend from Winter Snow Jonas and watching the NFL conference championship games served as a reminder that we’re only 25 days into 2016. (For a look a back on 2015, check out our Year in Photos!)

Like many, I find the start of the new year to be an opportunity to embrace new goals, new outlooks and new approaches.

At SOLiD, we’ve already made changes…

Most significantly, we announced last week that SOLiD Inc. has acquired the North American operation including all assets, business dealings, and resources.

This is an exciting and important next step in advancing SOLiD’s success and growth in both the North American and global wireless markets. As “ONE SOLiD”, we are stronger and better positioned to accomplish great things.

ONE SOLiD is a win for the markets we serve by increasing our ability to offer a broader product portfolio and a more competitive value proposition by leveraging our portfolio of RF Amplifier, RF Radio and Optical Transport core capabilities that have been battle-tested in the global markets.

(For more information, here is our acquisition FAQs plus a video interview by RCR’s Martha DeGrasse of newly-appointed president for SOLiD Americas, Ken Sandfeld.)

In the spirit of change, we’re making other changes you’ll be seeing soon.

We just gave our homepage a facelift to more effectively showcase new and relevant information for myriad stakeholder interests. Among them, be sure to check out our new Bold Ideas section. The same layout and format will soon carry over to our secondary pages. And we’ll soon reflect our entire global initiative. Please let us know what you think!

Our blog is also changing, starting with its name.

“The Inside Story” was a clever mash-up for conveying the “scoop” for the in-building wireless industry. And it served us well.

But the market has evolved and continues to do so at a rapid pace. SOLiD, too, has responded and continues to do so with a portfolio of solutions that enable densification from the edge of the core network to the building or pole and ultimately to the handset. Put simply, SOLiD is more than in-building DAS.

In addition to changing the name, we’ll bring you new topics and trends to build upon and compliment some of our key themes from 2015 including the Middleprise and Public-Safety Imperative. Plus you’ll hear from more voices at SOLiD and from within the industry in addition to my own.

So stay tuned. Until then, here’s to new beginnings!

Now back to the snow…

 

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Snow topped out around 30 inches for director of marketing Scott Gregory!

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Most Read Posts of 2015

By Mike Collado
December 29th, 2015
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Team SOLiD at its 2015 Sales Kickoff

I’m sure every year has its share of highs and lows, ups and downs, challenges and opportunities, you get it… But 2015 seemed to be infused with a little more change than in recent years.

The ecosystem wrestled with two significant and interrelated transformations:

First, business models for funding and owning DAS networks got put under the microscope. Wireless operators moved further away from owning the neutral host DAS network as evidenced by AT&T’s all-but-abandonment of its Antenna Solutions Group (ASG). And even though they had been connecting to 3PO-owned networks for the 12 to 18 months leading up to 2015 (and continued to connect throughout the year), operators started to question whether the old business models for DAS networks – where the venue does not pay – are still valid.

Second, the ecosystem began to shift focus from Tier 1 venues (i.e., having over 500,000 square feet such as stadia, subways, airports, etc.) to the Middleprise (i.e., enterprise venues having 100,000 to 500,000 square feet such as hospitals, hotels, college buildings and Class A corporate). Why? Namely, saturation within the Tier 1 segment. In contrast, the nascent Middleprise market has barely been addressed. But it comes with challenges to not only the business models and technology toolkit but also to network infrastructure and public-safety communications.

No doubt, we’ll begin to see evolutionary and revolutionary progress in the coming years that address both of those trends.

Until then, thanks for reading. On behalf of Team SOLiD, I wish you and your families comfort, joy, peace and happiness to last throughout the coming year!

Here’s what you read the most on The Inside Story in 2015…

Number 1: WiFi on a DAS? First ask yourself why
Convergence and all-fiber infrastructure inform that the industry will keep wrestling with this question.

Number 2: The Evolution of Multi-Carrier DAS
An oldie but goodie – A look from back in 2011 at how DAS may evolve.

Number 3: What are the Business Models for In-Building Coverage for Healthcare & Why Look at Them Now?
Another throwback post but clearly indicative of what was on the minds of the ecosystem in 2015.

Number 4: Holding its Own: IBTUF IX
The annual Verizon summit wrestled with hot topics including Small Cells, Public-Safety, CPRI and C-RAN

Number 5: The Wonderful World of Wireless
In spite of industry turbulence, the wireless industry is about to usher in some significant change and opportunity!

Number 6: The Public Safety Imperative
Creating safer in-building environments for occupants and first responders is paramount.

Number 7: Kicking Off 2015 at the NEDAS Philadelphia Social
It was a frigid evening but a great start to the year hosted by our good friends at NEDAS!

Number 8: The Future of DAS Ownership
Another throwback – an exploration of how funding and ownership models could evolve.

Number 9: A Disturbance in the Force
Given what’s currently in movie theaters, how apropos… The Middleprise!

Number 10: An Unlikely Discussion at MWC
It’s almost that time again… Our thoughts on the hot topics for the 2015 edition amid industry superlatives.

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Hello Again, oDAS

By Mike Collado
December 23rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 7.54.52 AMThroughout 2015, our team at SOLiD talked about two key industry trends and challenges: the emerging Middleprise market opportunity and ensuring that indoor public-safety coverage become an imperative requirement within both greenfield and brownfield venues.

(Learn more about the Middleprise by watching our video from DAS Congress and our article in AGL Magazine.)

(Learn more about the Public-Safety Imperative by listening to our webinar with Urgent Communications and our article in High Rise Facilities. And be sure to download a copy of our free eBook here.)

There’s a third industry challenge trend afoot that has myriad implications for the wireless ecosystem: densifying urban outdoor markets.

Last year, I blogged 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” and that this suggested opportunity for not just Small Cells but also reimagined oDAS solutions such as SOLiD’s CityDAS Collocation Street Pillar, as part of a JV with ConcealFab.

And a year prior to that, Joe Madden at Mobile Experts wrote in FierceWireless that “DAS is under-hyped” and that “Outdoor DAS is quicker than towers. Outdoor DAS is actually growing faster than indoor DAS in the U.S. market, because LTE roll-out needs to happen quickly and new towers are not quick.”

Does this mean a coming renaissance for oDAS?

For perspective, Stephane Teral at Infonetics reports that iDAS accounts for 70% to 80% of the total DAS market worldwide while “outdoor remains a niche market.” (Source: October 23, 2014 DAS Equipment report)

But at the recent DAS Congress Europe conference, Earl Lum at EJL Research observed that outdoor wireless deployments in dense urban markets are migrating to oDAS and Small Cells.

 

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Here’s where it gets interesting – at least for U.S. markets… According to Lum, implementation will vary from city by city. For example, he says San Francisco is deploying oDAS while New York City is deploying (mostly) Small Cells.

(In Europe, Lum suggests that Small Cells will be the solution of choice for dense urban outdoor coverage and capacity.)

The key factor is availability of poles. With limited poles, San Francisco requires sharing which means a multi-carrier solution which means oDAS; in contrast, NYC has many poles so collection of rent revenue wins the day for standalone pole solutions which means a single-carrier solution which means Small Cells.

(See Martha DeGrasse‘s story on small cell deployments on New York City in RCR Wireless .

The industry is now beginning to need to solve for capacity – not coverage – in dense outdoor urban markets. Because of that need, city managers and city IT managers within the top – say – 50 markets are likely starting to formulate whether their municipality will go Small Cell or oDAS. That is, if they want to get in on the lucrative revenue opportunity of leasing poles. Otherwise, they risk losing out to commercial buildings that will host densification solutions on rooftop sites.

Which brings us back to oDAS… New problems require new thinking and new solutions. So if not an oDAS renaissance, at least there’s a revisiting and rethinking of oDAS.

Is high-power still the right approach? Or is it more pragmatic and strategic to consider lowering the “wireless canopy” with a lower-power, pin-point type solution that enables a “roadmap” whereby chassis infrastructure remains in place with modular hardware / software adaptability to address inevitable changing capacity requirements?

And do we architect with 20W oDAS and plan to fill in with a next-phase 10W underlayment as capacity requirements inevitably increase? Or, should oDAS begin to look like iDAS from a power level perspective (i.e., 5W or less)?

As we learned from the exploring the Middleprise this past year, the business model (watch a panel discussion about funding and ownership trends from the NEDAS Boston Workshops & Social) will influence the technology solution. For dense urban outdoor markets, the strategic levers likely center around lowering the cost to get on a pole or the ability to generate more revenue by changing what gets deployed.

What are you observing in the outdoor urban markets?

 

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5 Revelations for Indoor Public-Safety Communications

By Mike Collado
October 15th, 2015

I had the privilege recently to join two of my favorite public-safety subject matter experts – Donny Jackson (editor at Urgent Communications) and Chief Alan Perdue (executive director at Safer Buildings Coalition) – to discuss trends for indoor public-safety communications during an hour-long webinar.

Specifically, five revelations (or lessons, observations, finding, epiphanies…) that have bubbled to the surface for me from the research and subsequent discussions around the eBook SOLiD published in partnership with Hutton Communications this summer: The Imperative.

The Imperative is an introduction to some of the key questions and challenges we frequently encounter within the market regarding fire and building code requirements for indoor public-safety communications; technology solutions; and funding and ownership for these in-building networks. Read more from our pre-APCO 2015 post here.

The title – The Imperative – was purposely chosen… We believe that it is imperative that both the general public and public-safety first responders are able to communicate indoors should there be an emergency. Meaning that the public can be notified and call for help, and that first responders can communicate with one another, with command and with building occupants.

Here are the 5 revelations… Be sure to check out the free webinar for more information and in-depth discussion. And please let us know what you think!

 

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Revelation #1: We tend to overlook the “public” part of public safety

Most people think about police, fire and EMS and special Land Mobile Radios (LMRs) when they think about public safety. What is overlooked is the critical role that the general public and their smartphones (and feature phones – thanks Michael Dube for pointing that out on the webinar) play in public safety. This is a key shift in paradigm: a call from the public to 911 initiates the response from first responders; notifications from first responders provide instructions to the public. As Chief Perdue says, “If you can’t call us, we can’t help you.” The new public-safety paradigm requires a holistic view that includes both the general public and traditional public-safety participants. (Read more about this topic in our summary post for APCO 2015.)

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Revelation #2: We’re applying traditional outside-in thinking to solve a new indoor market reality

The majority of cellular calls occur indoors. Similarly, the majority of emergencies occur indoors. So why is public-safety communications being addressed as a last-mile problem with an outside-in approach that relies upon the macro wireless network (both cellular and public safety if you agree with me on Revelation #1)? Given the facts, we should reverse field and instead view public-safety communications as a first-mile problem to be solved through an inside-out in-building wireless network strategy.

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Revelation #3: Fire and building codes are complex for myriad stakeholders

With two fire code organizations (International Code Council and National Fire Protection Association) that publish model codes in different years which take years to be adopted at the discretion of each individual jurisdiction, it’s complicated and complex for stakeholders to navigate requirements for indoor public-safety communications. At a minimum, the lack of uniformity hinders a repeatable process for achieving the mission of Chief Perdue’s organization of making buildings safer. Further, the stakeholders – including public safety, building owners, wireless operators and technology manufacturers – often do not have a seat at the table to influence the creation of the codes. (Learn how Safer Buildings Coalition is helping)

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Revelation #4: Building safety systems should be paid for by the building owner

Indoor public-safety communications (once again, both cellular and public safety if you agree with me on Revelation #1) are akin to fire sprinkler systems: part of a safety system funded by the building as part of a code requirement. Like the sprinklers, those upfront costs can be recovered downstream via revenue from tenants. Is it a financial burden? Yes. But a “safe building” and/or one that enables cellular coverage is an asset to attract tenants, increase property value and retain tenants (learn more at WiredScore). We look to creative business models such as sharing in certain network expenses, tax breaks, insurance incentives and Good Samaritan laws to help advance funding of these networks by the building owner.

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Revelation #5: Convergence of indoor commercial cellular and public safety doesn’t make sense until FirstNet

It’s enticing to explore a strategy of converging commercial cellular and public safety on the same in-building distributed antenna system (DAS) network. After all, isn’t that the premise behind FirstNet: leveraging the commercial cellular macro network assets to build a broadband public-safety network? Set aside reliability and resiliency requirements for mission critical public-safety communications for a moment… The key reason to keep them separate t0day is interference. Specifically, an in-building public-safety network requires 25% of the significantly denser antennae infrastructure that supports commercial cellular LTE service. But, when FirstNet gets rolled out, the network will also be LTE – which suggests that the required in-building commercial cellular and public-safety DAS infrastructure will similarly map and support a converged network strategy. At that time, reliability and resiliency as well as coverage at locations such as stairwells and underground parking coverage areas which are critical in public safety, will need to be addressed).

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