Before we hunker down and get back to business, here are our industry predictions for 2014.
A Look Back
Over the last 12 months, we at SOLiD have observed two fundamental trends in the wireless communications industry.
First, out of the buzz surrounding Small Cells has emerged a more rational and pragmatic conversation for solving densification issues that applies a tool box approach that consists of Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), Small Cells and Wi-Fi.
Second, FirstNet – by virtue of a Board that consists of both cellular and public-safety stakeholders – has nudged the two industries closer together to explore converged solutions to disparate problems.
It is these key trends that drive our predictions for 2014.
Alright, I’ll just go and say it: Small Cell deployments won’t roll out as quickly as the industry suggests. I realize this may sound self-serving coming from a company that is best-known for its DAS solutions. However, it’s not about technology; instead, it’s about the delays due to the inherent complexity of obtaining approvals and permits from municipalities to place radios on street furniture.
Necessity spawns innovation so, to address street furniture and street pillar concerns, Outdoor DAS and Small Cells are going to get smaller, lighter, greener, more powerful and provide more bands.
Single infrastructure will rule the day. Outdoors, we’ll start to see street furniture that is capable of supporting DAS, Small Cells and Wi-Fi technology. Indoors, we’ll begin to see next generation in-building solutions that take the form of a single, all-fiber, carrier-grade and enterprise-ready platform with fiber-fed antennas and power at the edge.
Finally, fiber owners become to the Het-Net what tower owners are to the macro network. There’s no solution that offers virtually the limitless capacity of Single Mode Fiber, and carriers will rely heavily upon fiber owners to empower them to deploy network densification solutions.
Anyone familiar with Washington, DC knows that bipartisanship is a fact of life. In 2014, the inevitable will happen whereby FirstNet will grant the carriers access to D-Block spectrum. It fosters a win-win that satisfies the carriers’ need for spectrum and delivers the interoperable ecosystem needed to make the vision of a nationwide LTE Public Safety Broadband Network reality.
Meanwhile, FirstNet answers the question of whether it will drive the creation of fire codes that inform in-building public-safety communications requirements. With a focus on the PSBN, the task of creating fire codes definitively – and appropriately – remains with Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).
Lastly, location becomes the “Holy Grail” problem to solve for in-building wireless public-safety communications. Because Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can be turned off, those location solutions won’t qualify as public-safety grade. Location won’t get solved in 2014, but it’s going to be a hot topic.
Whatever does happen in 2014, our industry is poised to incubate step-changes that impact the wireless market for the next 10 years.
We at SOLiD wish our customers, partners and peers a fantastic New Year in the most exciting industry there is!
What do you predict as the key trends for 2014?