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oDAS + Collocation = FTW

By Mike Collado
October 27th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.24.54 AMIn 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.

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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 AMMunicipal 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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