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Look for a Frenzy of Activity in DAS in 2012

By Mike Collado
December 29th, 2011

In my previous post, I highlighted what we at SOLiD Technologies believe were the biggest trends in DAS in 2011. Today, I’m back with predictions for 2012 – a year in which we forecast will include a frenzy of activity.

In 2012 the wireless carriers will finally face the music with regard to delivering public safety communications over a DAS.

With the 700 MHz D Block allocation being sought by the public safety community (see Public Safety Alliance) and an increasing number of state and regional agencies mandating public safety coverage inside buildings, the requirement for public safety communications over DAS is unavoidable. Building owners demand converged DAS rather than the stand-alone systems carriers would offer. In the same way, building owners will require public safety, and in many cases two-way radio, on the DAS whether the carriers like it or not. Technology, real field experience, and the already-announced carrier alliances to use LTE for public safety have exposed carrier arguments against public safety on DAS as outdated.

Wi-Fi offload will make major strides in 2012.

Experts are predicting as much as $500 million in “carrier-grade” Wi-Fi dedicated to wireless carriers. From a manufacturing standpoint, the ecosystem is abuzz trying to pull the network elements together to get smartphones onto Wi-Fi whenever possible and with the same QoS and management capability as the RAN network. Though these systems are usually discrete, they are increasingly being deployed at the same time. Leading DAS integrators are becoming adept at deploying both Wi-Fi and DAS networks.

LTE deployments and the need for dedicated, high-capacity backhaul to each node will swing open the door for innovative transport solutions.

Expect to see the introduction of low-latency digital optical networks and even some base-station hoteling in 2012. An all-optical infrastructure will lead to significant savings through fiber reduction and the elimination of unnecessary hub sites.

And, finally, in 2012 I predict a “plug-in world.”

By that, I mean that the carriers will each develop a more streamlined process for plugging into a DAS owned by a building owner or a 3PO. Carriers have limited experience managing multi-carrier DAS, and building owners generally prefer to maintain control of their physical environment and communications infrastructure. Carriers are more motivated than ever to enhance indoor network performance and the quickest way to get there will be writing a check, plugging in and moving on.

On behalf of the 160 employees of SOLiD Technologies serving markets around the world, I’d like to wish our peers a fantastic New Year in the most exciting industry there is!

Now it’s your turn – tell me what you think!

A version of this article was originally published in AGL Bulletin.

(Image: Ludie Cochrane)

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