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Posts Tagged ‘ AT&T ’

Many Questions About DAS, Small Cells & Spectrum At 4G World

By Mike Collado
November 3rd, 2012

4G World 2012

Team SOLiD enjoyed a busy and productive week during 4G World in the Windy City in spite of Hurricane Sandy which affected travel for many exhibitors, presenters and attendees from the East Coast, making for a much cozier event than organizers had envisioned.

(BTW, please considering joining SOLiD and our employees by making a contribution to a charity of your choice that is working to support the hurricane relief and recovery efforts to help our neighbors, brothers, sisters and four-legged friends. Here’s a list of highly-rated charities that are responding. Thank you!)

Nonetheless, we connected with Michael Howard at Infonetics and Joan  Engebretson from TMCnet who has since published a column about our vision to converge DAS and Optical Transport to form the foundation for next-generation DAS networks.

We braved the chilly night air to catch up with partners and peers at a rooftop party hosted by our partner and friends at iBwave. Plus we got our Chicago-style deep dish pizza fix at Lou Malnati’s.

SOLiD had the privilege to present on the the “In-building 4G Wireless Solutions for Venues” panel along with Jim Parker from AT&T’s Antenna Solutions Group, Mario Bouchard from iBwave and Emil Olbrich from NIST (agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce). Based upon the panel’s interaction with attendees, it’s clear that there are many fundamental industry questions about DAS, Small Cells and Spectrum.

DAS and WiFi and Small Cells (oh my…)

The key problem for wireless operators is satisfying customer needs given a “data tsunami” that Jim Parker quantifies as having 20,000 percent growth. With customers now uploading more content than they’re downloading and the bulk of cellular traffic occurring indoors (80% cites Mario Bouchard), the macro network can not efficiently service users in high-density areas. Given the tremendous uptick in use, it is necessary to build the network from the “inside-out” to compliment macro network approach of “outside-in.”

For large public venues (think: hospitals, college and corporate campuses, sports venues, convention centers and the like), DAS, WiFi and Small Cells are identified as the go-to solutions capable of scaling to bring more capacity indoors.

Which One To Use?

During a case study earlier this year at the ACUTA Annual Conference, a panelist pondered whether WiFi could be used to support smartphone users across the campus at Indiana University. While it’s tempting to look to unlicensed spectrum and existing investment in deploying and supporting WiFi Access Points, the issue is that the cellular band is very large compared with WiFi. On the other hand, wireless operators do look to WiFi as a complimentary strategy to offload data to conserve RAN.

Wireless Spectrum

Meanwhile, having been fed a steady diet of Small Cells at 2012 industry events, attendees at 4G World questioned whether Small Cells – and most folks are referring to a femtocell or picocell – will replace DAS as a more cost-effective technology. (To inject a little levity, Bouchard quipped that “small cell” is a buzzword that attracts a lot people to conferences)

Today, a femto can’t compete with DAS because it does not provide a neutral host solution. And even if you cobbled together multiple femtos required for each carrier, you’d need a bunch of them and they’d not scale as bandwidth requirements increase. Besides, all these boxes would be aesthetically unappealing.

But the key reason, as we alluded to above with WiFi, has to do with spectrum. Remember, the cellular band is very large: dropping a PICO or eFEMTO for this entire band is not possible since the typical pico chip only handles 20Mhz up and 20Mhz down.

SOLiD CTO, Saeed Anwar, cautions that supporting 4 major wireless operators (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile) does not mean you need just 4 picos. Rather, each wireless operator has a spectrum across the entire band. For instance, Verizon Wireless has 4 bands (700, 850, 1900 and 2100 MHz). However, 1900 is a very large band (65Mhz up and 65 Mhz down) and is split in many sub-bands. These sub-bands may also vary by region on operators owning specific sub-bands. So, Verizon alone could have 700 upper c as one pico, 850 as a second pico, variations in 1900 picos because of the large spread and a 2100 AWS pico. (There are also variations in 700 and AWS but not to such a big scale as 1900)

What Is A Small Cell, Really?

The answer, it seems, depends…

Bouchard referred to Small Cells as a big bucket of solutions. Meanwhile, Parker cited DAS as being the original Small Cell.

The Small Cell Forum was originally focused on femtocells. However, our discussion with AT&T’s Gordon Mansfield, who was recently named the new chairman of the Small Cell Forum, reveals a  migration in thinking. Specifically, Mansfield shared that the Small Cell Forum will distinguish between residential (femto & wifi) and enterprise cells going forward.

Michael Howard at Infonetics was similarly adamant at 4G World that small cells and residential (femto & wifi) should not be in the same bucket.

So it seems reasonable to categorize it like this: small cells are the technology deployments used to fill-in where enterprise needs are not being met by DAS and WiFi.

What do you say? Let us know if the comments section!

 

Entrance to the Exhibit Floor at 4G World 2012

Big League Challenges for Professional Sports Venues

By Seth Buechley
August 17th, 2012

Team SOLiD had a chance to address several hundred of the sports industry’s technical leaders at SEAT 2012 in Boston last week. Christine Stoffel  and Chris Dill from SEAT did a great job of selecting a world-class venue and organizing a world-class event designed to foster interaction and idea exchange. The event was a mixture of panels, presentations, sports venue tours, and socializing about the most pressing challenges and opportunities within sports and public entertainment venues.

The DAS panel was a perfect straight of stakeholders that included a venue (Chip Foley from Barclays Center), a carrier (Chad Townes from AT&T), a DAS manufacturer (Seth Buechley from SOLiD), and a third party owner (John Davis from ExteNet).

Feedback from audience ranged from skepticism about how well the carriers really play together on a carrier-owned DAS, to curiosity about whether a venue should try to work with carriers directly or bring on a third-party.

For me, the key ideas to wrestle with came from Mike Morris with Major League Baseball.  He told the audience that MLB was focused on three major IT areas; (1) Analytics, (2) Mobile and (3) Data Security.  I couldn’t help notice that Analytics and Mobile fit squarely within the conversation we’ve been having in the DAS industry.

Analytics

I’m not sure you can have good analytics without the data to analyze.  How can you measure fan experience if you don’t know what they experience?

Outside of Super Bowls, which are handled quite differently than most events, I am not aware of a single professional sports venue that receives sufficient detailed network usage data to determine who is in their building and the type of mobile fan experience they are having.

Though the carriers and pro sport team both suggest  they “share” the customer, it clear they really don’t share the customer experience information. Carriers simply don’t share that information under the premise that it is their own “licensed” spectrum being used to deliver cellular.

In the future venues will find ways to access real-time mobile user data (subject to privacy laws) from carriers.

Mobile

You really can’t (or shouldn’t) roll-out a killer team or in-stadium mobile app without robust cellular and/or WiFi coverage.

Mobile users are finicky, so if a team launches a lame app, or one that appears lame because the network is overly congested, then that app may never be revisited or adopted.

Furthermore, it will be hard to know why the mobile app underperforms. Was the problem artistic layout, the content, the offer, or the network experience?

Cellular DAS and a robust WiFi offload program are some basic building blocks that have to be put in place before a team or venue can have a mobile strategy on-site.

Final Word

Clearly the folks in the sports venue IT space felt like kids in a candy mall, sitting squarely between two of Americas great loves – the smart phone and the home team.

What do you think?

SEAT 2012 Tour of Fenway Park

See SOLiD at CTIA Wireless 2012 at Booth 4461

By Mike Collado
May 3rd, 2012

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

SOLiD is exhibiting at CTIA Wireless 2012 in the Crescent City at booth #4461.

We know it’s busy at CTIA and it’s difficult to see everyone. So here are five reasons to visit the SOLiD booth:

Reason 1

We’re launching the TITAN™ 20W Remote Unit. TITAN provides high-capacity DAS for outdoor applications (think  large sports venues, metropolitan subways and college/corporate campuses). It seamlessly integrates with the ALLIANCE or EXPRESS head-ends and, like all SOLiD solutions, makes highly-efficient use of fiber. TITAN is powerful, yet compact. Plus its rugged design meets fire code equipment requirements and is ideal for harsh environment venue applications. And because all of SOLiD’s solutions were designed after the launch of the iPhone, TITAN is built to handle today’s wide spectrum of frequencies and deliver not only coverage but, more importantly, capacity, making TITAN a compelling solution for oDAS projects.

Reason 2

One of the most talked-about challenges during the recent DAS in Action event was – surprise – small cells. But the elephant in the room was backhaul. SOLiD is also launching ACCESS-GT™ which reduces network backhaul costs which are a serious issue due to the explosion of mobile data bandwidth consumption. ACCESS multiplexes 16 channels of high-capacity broadband per strand of fiber. But what’s unique is the cost of the tunable laser that drives this technology: it costs a fraction of similar tunable lasers. We’ll be demonstrating ACCESS at the SOLiD booth (4461).

Reason 3

We have the best multi-service, neutral-host DAS platform – ALLIANCE™. That’s not marketing hype; a Wireless Service Provider at a recent industry event told us that. SOLiD designed ALLIANCE for today’s market in which Building Owners are increasingly owning the DAS and have a significant say in how in-building networks will be deployed in their properties. ALLIANCE supports commercial wireless, public safety radio, private 2-way radio, and paging on a single infrastructure using one strand of fiber. It is 4G certified and offers guaranteed RF power control, so wireless operators to lock-in power levels. ALLIANCE is completely modular and flexible to accommodate current and future requirements. We’ll have ALLIANCE for demonstration in our booth.

Reason 4

Check out the industry’s fastest and easiest commissioning system. After bringing to market the ALLIANCE best-in-class multi-service DAS platform, we set about designing a single-operator DAS that was, well, easier to deploy, commission and manage. Designed to meet specific frequency band requirements, EXPRESS™ is a Quad Band and MIMO-ready solution that has a small footprint and is highly fiber-efficient. EXPRESS has UHF/VHF radio capabilities built-in. And our EasySET™ 1-Click software configures and commissions the DAS network – automatically. Stop by, we’ll show you!

Reason 5

Meet with Seth Buechely (President), Saeed Anwar (CTO) and Ken Sandfeld (Vice President of Sales). Learn how SOLiD is solving coverage and capacity challenges at leading hospitals, world-class hotels and resorts, Fortune 500 corporate campuses, international airports, large sports venues, metropolitan subways and other marquee customer sites. Get a deep-dive technical product demonstration. Hear about coming DAS trends. Explore your projects with the SOLiD team. We’re looking forward to it!

Also, please be sure to visit our SOLiD Certified Partners – Alliance Communications (5245) and Tempest Telecom (5201) – at CTIA!

Tell Us…

What are you seeking to accomplish at CTIA this year?

See you in New Orleans!

A Look Back at 2011

By Mike Collado
December 28th, 2011

As 2011 fades we are already shifting attention toward the frenzy of DAS activity we expect in the coming year. Budgets, forecasts and goal setting are top-of-mind. During these last few weeks, when no one is really sure who’s working and who’s not, it seems appropriate to take a step back, take a breath, gain some perspective and reflect on what stood out during 2011.

From my view, the biggest impact in the DAS space in 2011 was made by AT&T’s Antenna Solutions Group (ASG). Whether you were a DAS integrator, DAS equipment manufacturer, a competing carrier, a large venue owner or a third-party DAS owner (3PO), you felt the weight of AT&T’s grand push into the DAS space. AT&T hit its stride with hundreds of new employees offering hundreds of venue owners another choice for solving capacity and coverage challenges with limited out-of-pocket cost. While the AT&T model still requires much proving in the market, AT&T broke from the pack and challenged our industry to “rethink possible” when it comes to major venue DAS deployment.

The runner-up highlight in 2011 was the increasing level of enterprise-led DAS deployments. CIOs were at the table becoming educated on DAS technology and business models. Fortune 1000 corporate campuses, higher-education and hospitals are taking their wireless destiny into their own hands and are now more willing than ever to deploy DAS systems they own and manage with the help of trusted partners.

Tomorrow, I’ll put on my prediction hat and share what we at SOLiD believe to be the key DAS trends that will occur in 2012.

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

(Image of Janus: RedJinn)