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Posts Tagged ‘ LTE North America ’

Densification is a Toolbox Approach. So, Now What?

By Mike Collado
November 24th, 2014

20141119_122042We had the pleasure last week to attend one of our favorite events – LTE North America.

(For additional coverage, see our tweets from the show and videos from RCR Wireless.

This event stands out for us because it’s the Goldilocks of both content and stakeholders within the wireless ecosystem – not too broad and not too narrow; not too overwhelming and not too sparsely attended.

With topics such as HetNets, Small Cells, LTE, 5G, Network Optimization and Public-Safety, it’s always right up our alley.

We had the privilege to present before industry peers our observations on the evolutionary and revolutionary approaches that will be deployed to densify the network. As a manufacturer, it’s a topic we’re truly energized by.

(In fact, we’ll advance this topic further next week at Small Cells Americas.)

One of the key topics that stood out the most for us during the two days in Dallas was that it appears that our industry is mercifully moving away from the DAS versus Small Cells debate and beginning to engage in a pragmatic conversation to identify the right tool for the job rather than promoting an allegiance for a single technology.

Well, sort of…

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 5.46.06 PMThe Decade of Densification

Why are we even having this discussion?

Earlier this summer, we dubbed the current period in the wireless industry as the “decade of densification.”

(The wireless industry transforms itself roughly every 10 years; see a great infographic here)

Pat Diamond from Key2mobile – an early stage company working on improving urban capacity and connectivity in the licensed-spectrum space – observes that densification is about marrying up both coverage and capacity within the wireless network.

Or, as Paula Doublin from AT&T describes it: coverage is ensuring water fills the entire lake; capacity is ensuring how deep the water is in the lake.

Of course, densification is required both indoors and outdoors.

And those spaces are unique in size and physical characteristics as well as usage requirements and durations.

Time after time, presenters and delegates uttered the phrase, “A toolkit approach is needed to densify the network.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 5.47.50 PMThe Beatles vs. The Stones

Leave it to our friend Dr. Derek Peterson (CTO at Boingo) to break it down as he did during his afternoon talk on Day #1.

Everyone loves a good debate. And some within the wireless industry have pitted DAS against Small Cells.

Remember the claims that Small Cells would kill the DAS industry?

(See our thoughts on this topic from Small Cells World Summit 2014)

The problem is these kinds of discussions have made it increasingly difficult to discern the truth from the hype.

For instance, some say DAS is too expensive compared to Small Cells. We heard a presenter claim that Small Cells will be deployed at stadiums at 1/10 to 1/20 cost of DAS.

At the other end of the spectrum, another presenter suggested that small cells won’t have the capacity to support a single floor of users at a meeting facility.

As a rule of thumb, we believe DAS to be ideal for large venues (>500k square feet).

Small Cells are ideal for small buildings (<100k square feet).

But that’s just a starting point. And it leaves a big gap for densifying medium-sized enterprise venues.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 5.54.05 PMThe Right Tool for the Job

You wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to drive a nail for a picture hook, would you?

The industry discussion needs to progress to explore using the right tool for the job.

That’s what AT&T is doing based upon their series of commercials featuring the fictitious characters of Frank and Charlie highlighting a toolkit of strategies that include the macro network, DAS and Small Cells.

Here’s the thing… The toolkit is advancing and old assumptions may longer hold true.

For instance, at this year’s Small Cells World Summit, Stuart Carlaw (Chief Research Officer at ABI Research) observed that DAS is becoming economical for medium installations between 100k and 500k square feet.

However, the toolkit may also inform that multiple tools might be used. In Dallas, Boingo’s Dr. Peterson rhetorically asked, “Why not use all the tools in the toolkit?”

We believe there exist venues in which DAS and Small Cells should be deployed together. In this theoretical scenario, DAS may cover the majority of the public areas and small cells could be used to boost capacity for specific operators or applications where needed.

Advancing the Discussion

In our opinion, one of the most important discussions the wireless industry needs to have centers on the densification toolkit.

It’s no longer sufficient to say it’s a toolkit approach. Rather, we need to explore the “decision tree” which informs which tool or tools to use based upon the unique requirements.

To jumpstart the conversation, SOLiD is sponsoring a forthcoming paper to be published by our friend David Chambers at ThinkSmallCell.

Meanwhile, how do you view the decision tree? And how is it different for operators compared to the enterprise?


Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 6.00.55 PM

SOLiD was short-listed for the Best LTE Backhaul Solution award for INFINITY ACCESS



Jennifer Pigg Clark (VP at 451 Research)


Andy Germano (VP at Small Cell Forum)



Nicolas Cotanis (CTO at Reverb Networks) & Ken Sandfeld (EVP at SOLiD)



Mike Collado (VP of Marketing at SOLiD)



Paul Gowans (Mobile Strategy Director at JDSU)



Dr. Derek Peterson (CTO at Boingo)



Chief Alan Perdue (Executive Director at Safer Buildings Coalition)


Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 4.14.31 PM

Stuart Carlaw’s Presentation from Small Cells Americas

Jam-Packed End of Year Event Calendar

By Mike Collado
September 18th, 2014

IMG_0133Each year, the event calendar for the wireless industry starts off with a bang with CES and Verizon’s IBTUF in early January.

The schedule remains full into June. (Although this year events crept deeper into June!)

Then there’s a brief respite during summer. (Notable exceptions include HITEC, SEAT and APCO which was set this year in – um – steamy New Orleans)

Things kick back into high gear right after Labor Day before settling down briefly in December before the cycle starts once again.

So buckle up and earn those travel awards!

Here’s where we’ll be through the end of the year. Please contact us to meet, follow our updates on LinkedIn and Twitter or just stop by at the event.

(Be sure to check our our events calendar for updates):


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BICSI Fall Conference 2014
September 28 – October 2
Panelist: “Densifying the Network Through DAS and Small Cells” (October 1 @ 10:30 AM)


HetNet Expo
October 15 & 16
Panelist: “Connecting the Dots on DAS” (October 16 @ (9:00 AM)


NEDAS Fall Training & Social
October 22
Washington, DC
Sponsor & Exhibitor

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.18.08 AM

Small Cells Global Congress
October 28 & 29
Presenter: “Densifying the Network for the Next Decade”
Panelist: “Overcoming Practical Obstacles to Small Cell Network Deployments”


Canadian Wireless Trade Show
October 29 & 30
Presenter: “Evolution and Revolution: Densifying the Network through DAS and Small Cells” (October 29 @ 2:00 PM)


LTE North America
November 18 – 20
Panelist: “Small Cell Deployment in the USA” (November 19 @ 11:50 AM)
Presenter: “Evolution and Revolution: Densifying the Network through DAS and Small Cells” (November 19 @ 2:00 PM)
Sponsor: Awards Party
Meeting Room


DAS & Small Cells Congress Europe
November 19 – 21
Presenter: “Meeting In-Building Enterprise Coverage and Capacity Demands” (November 20 @ 4:20 PM)


Small Cells Americas
December 1 – 3
Presenter: “Evolution and Revolution: Densifying the Network through DAS and Small Cells”

Reports from the Trade Show Circuit

By Mike Collado
December 15th, 2013

After thousands of miles, countless handshakes and dozens of informative meetings, we’re back from the end of the year “trade show circuit” as our friend Jim Parker calls it.

Here’s where we’ve been and what we heard…

Pennsylvania Wireless Association DAS Tour & Conference

With Citizens Bank Park as our backdrop in the City of Brotherly Love, two key themes emerged at this one-day event:

  1. Although emerging Small Cell technology will be appropriate for certain deployment applications, Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) will remain the go-to strategy for enabling capacity for tens of thousands of fans at large stadiums and arenas. These large venues is where we expect to see key innovation trends to play out including scalable infrastructure and analytics as mentioned here and hoteling to address head-end space constraints as mentioned here.
  2. The requirement to support public-safety communications as well as commercial cellular is being driven and battle-tested in venues such as hospitals where doctors, nurses, first responders, staff and security as well as patients and visitors all need access to wireless communications.

TETRA Congress Americas

Propelled by our thought leadership within the public-safety space, SOLiD was invited to participate in this inaugural event in New York City which served in part as a platform to promote the use of TETRA in Canada and the US.

TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) is the specification for two-way transceiver radio communication using LMR (Land Mobile Radios) that has been used in Europe for mission critical communications for emergency first responders much like P25 (Project 25) is the standard in North America.

We discovered that TETRA is being deployed within Utilities and Transport industries.

However, we observe that TETRA will likely not be deployed for public-safety in the US because federal grant money is already being directed to support deployment of P25 by municipalities.

Ultimately, the FirstNet initiative suggests that both P25 and TETRA will be replaced by LTE in the future (although it’s important to point out that although P25 was ratified by APCO (Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International) in 1989, many US agencies have still not migrated to it due to costs).

For in-building communications, we believe all of these public-safety standards are likely to exist simultaneously. Therefore a successful DAS platform must support the full spectrum of narrowband and wideband frequencies.

LTE North America

Analysts and Operators and Innovators, oh my! Hosted this year in Dallas, this conference tackles Devices, LTE, HetNets, Network Optimization, Public-Safety and more. Here’s the most interesting things we heard:

  • Ken Rehbehn at Yankee Group: Has the small cell hype has outpaced reality? Key challenges facing widescale deployment of small cells include (1) the scarcity of real estate (i.e., street furniture); (2) lack of a process to ubiquitously roll it out and; (3) current inability to host multiple operators and services.
  • Art King at SpiderCloud: Small Cells will be deployed by Wi-Fi installers, not DAS installers. To achieve widescale penetration, the design and deployment of small cells will need to be simplified to resemble an access point.
  • Bill D’Agostino at FirstNet: Out of tragedy comes innovation. The key themes the wireless industry is addressing include (1) technology evolution; (2) regulatory innovation and; (3) spectrum acquisition and management. 2014 will be the year that FirstNet develops the plan to get to the plan to implement a public-safety grade network to achieve 100 percent coverage and connectivity.
  • Gordon Mansfield at AT&T and Small Cell Forum (SOLiD is a member): It’s a toolkit approach for achieving network densification in urban areas. 80% mobile traffic takes place indoors and 39-61% offices have poor in-building coverage. DAS will be the key solution deployed in public venues and large buildings while Small Cells fill in the gaps indoors and outdoors. It is expected that operators will embrace the Small Cell approach because the model promises to be fast and have low costs.
  • Iain Gillott at iGR: Gillott: The industry will need a new name for DAS as next generation solutions that possess a common all-fiber infrastructure emerge that increasingly resemble hybrid solutions that converge radio frequency (RF) and Internet protocol (IP) services and applications.
  • Ken Sandfeld at SOLiD: Future antennas outdoors will be more efficient, do more and be better camouflaged to be more aesthetically pleasing. This trend will be paramount to address the concerns expressed above by Ken Rehbehn.
  • Jeff Cohen at APCO: Pinpointing location is fast-becoming a key need for first responders inside buildings. While being able to communicate indoors the critical requirement today, locating the right floor and position of an e911 call is the in-building Holy Grail. Next generation DAS will be able to triangulate to identify location but solutions are still needed for today’s DAS.

Small Cells Americas

We returned to a chilly Dallas after a quick pit-stop for Thanksgiving to join a vastly different group of participants than we encountered just two weeks prior at LTE North America.

As we observed earlier this year at the Small Cells World Summit in London, the industry has moved past wild claims that Small Cells are going to be the demise of DAS. However, the notion of 2013 as the “year of the small cell” is overzealous.

Most in the industry are still searching for small cell deployments in North America. Our friend Bryan Brooks at Pavlov Media has repeatedly shared he’d buy and deploy small cells at the college campus MDUs where his company provides triple-play services. And we’ve heard from wireless operators that their transport teams are not just under water but under sand when it comes to deploying small cells.

Translation: it’s gonna be a while.

Perhaps one the most informative panels was “How Coverage with Small Cells Can be a Game Changer for LTE and Beyond” because of the inclusion of both Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson. The presenters – which included SOLiD’s Ken Sandfeld – agreed that small cells can deliver on the promise of delivering capacity and quality of service at a low cost, but that the accelerated rollout needs to be automated and deployment simplified like Wi-Fi access points. More importantly, the widescale deployment of small cells means that it will be incumbent upon ALU and Ericsson to work with DAS OEMs and other stakeholders in the ecosystem ( As we blogged, ALU’s Mike Schabel shared this same opinion earlier this year in London).

Another insightful presentation was delivered by Teresa McEneny from Cisco who highlighted location based services and analytics as big opportunities within the evolving in-building space and identified the barriers to widespread deployment of small cells to include power, support, backhaul, real estate, cost and need for multi-vendor HetNet. She also painted an interesting scenario: leveraging Cisco’s Wi-Fi sales channel to scale the deployment of indoor small cell solutions given these teams already possess the enterprise relationships.

For a great summary, check out David Chambers’ 2013 Small Cells Americas Event Report at

IWCE Virtual Show

Okay, so it didn’t involve travel but some the industry’s public-safety wireless thought leaders (including SOLiD) participated on “virtual” panels moderated by Urgent CommunicationsGlenn Bischoff and Donny Jackson.

From an indoor perspective, Bischoff shared that it will be a great day should ubiquitous indoor public-safety communication become reality. Afterall, what good is a nationwide public-safety network (vision of FirstNet) if you can’t bring the signal indoors?

There are two key impediments to achieving this vision:

  1. Although municipal codes increasingly require that new construction venues of a certain size and having certain physical characteristics (such as underground parking) provide in-building public-safety communications – typically through DAS, many codes allow older structures to be grandfathered.
  2. There remains plenty of FUD that espouses the need to keep cellular & public-safety on separate infrastructure. Fact is convergence is both technologically and financially feasible – if not an ideal approach.

As a founding member of the Safer Buildings Coalition, SOLiD is optimistic in seeing a very large uptick trends in DAS systems that bring public-safety service into buildings.

Your Turn

Of the events you attended in the fourth quarter, which stood out as having the greatest impact from a thought leadership and networking standpoint?


Fueling up on Matzo Ball Soup at Carnegie Deli


Chief Alan Perdue (Executive Director of Safer Buildings Coalition) Stops by to Visit at LTE North America


Bill D’Agostino, Jr. (FirstNet General Manager) Keynote at LTE North America


Gordon Mansfield (Chairman of Small Cell Forum) Keynote at LTE North America


Finishing Strong

By Mike Collado
November 12th, 2013

SOLiD's Dan Le (Staff Accountant) Finishing Strong at Spartan Race

Anyone who’s ever participated in sports knows the expression, “Finish strong”.

It’s the runner’s finishing kick.

It’s when the cyclist “throws” his bike at the line.

Or when a team closes out a game for the win.

It’s how we’re approaching the end of the year at SOLiD.

Here’s our busy event schedule for the remainder of the year as we finish strong.

Please bookmark our Event Calendar for updates and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with us at events where we’re attending.

We’re looking forward to seeing you on the road!

 November 14 – 15
New York

This inaugural event examines the benefits that TETRA could bring to Mission Critical Radio Users. SOLiD’s resident RF expert Greg Glenn presents user case examples for ensuring public-safety communications inside buildings during the “Strategies for Supporting Public-Safety Communications Indoors” session on Friday, November 15 at 4:15 PM EST.

November 20 – 22

With a focus on the most pertinent issues facing the North American LTE market including HetNets, LTE Advanced, Public Safety LTE (a/k/a FirstNet), VoLTE and Mobile Backhaul, this conference brings together over 1,250 high-level attendees. SOLiD’s Vice President of North America, Ken Sandfeld, teams up with our friend, analyst Iain Gillott from iGR, to explore emerging indoor and outdoor DAS, Small Cell and Wi-Fi strategies and technologies in “The Future of LTE” at 1 PM CST on Friday, November 22.

December 3 – 4

Whether you are focused on public access, enterprise, residential – indoor or outdoor – femtocells, picocells, metro deployments… this is the place to make connections and learn the very latest information from the market. Ken Sandfeld makes an encore appearance and joins presenters from AT&T and other organizations on the first day of the conference at 11:10 AM CST to explore “How Coverage with Small Cells Can be a Game Changer for LTE and Beyond”. We’ll wrestle with the pros and cons of Small Cells, and examine synergies with DAS and Wi-Fi.

December 5

This event provides a free-to-attend, in-depth day of learning, discussion, networking and exhibitions for communications technology professionals and key vendors. SOLiD President and Safer Buildings Coalition founder Seth Buechley joins Urgent Communications’ Donny Jackson and other public-safety industry thought leaders to discuss the most important trends and most pressing issues in the roundtable discussion “State of the Industry: What’s on Your Mind?” at 4 PM EST.

December 5

The AGL Regional Conference in Pleasanton features an inside look at LTE installation issues including what installation pitfalls to avoid, protecting your vertical assets from unnecessary liabilities. Included on the agenda are discussions about in-building, small cells and DAS from public-safety to city networks and more. SOLiD Team Members Shane Hague and Eli Fischer will be in attendance to meet with your teams.