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Posts Tagged ‘ Mobile World Congress ’

The MWC Time Warp

By Mike Collado
March 9th, 2015

IMG_0055I’m always impressed how seemingly quickly Mobile World Congress begins and ends despite four extremely long days (show floor hours begin at 9 am and conclude at 7 pm). And that doesn’t account for early breakfast meetings and meandering late night dinners!

(Okay, I put in three days and flew home on Thursday but I wasn’t alone: Ed Gubbins from Current Analysis and Dan Jones from Light Reading were on my flight along with a bunch of other exhausted-looking MWC attendees who all got marooned at snowed-in JFK airport for many, many hours)

Perhaps it’s countless hours of planning and executing one’s exhibit, product launch and business development strategy.

Or a result of what I unaffectionately refer to as the “long short night” of traveling east to Barcelona. (Although I suspect that flying business class as our friend Vicki Livingston did on my flight while I flew in steerage works a whole lot better!)

Maybe it’s hanging out with 93,000 of our closest colleagues from the industry in a paradoxically intimate setting. (Within 30 seconds of exiting our taxi on Day #1 we found ourselves walking with Bo Piekarski from Crown Castle).

Or perusing the industry giants in Hall 3 who use MWC to raise the technology bar through dazzling new initiates both real and far-fetched.

Nor can I discount the rinse-and-repeat cycle of bocadillos, patatas bravas, jamon, paella, cava and sangria. (Thankfully barista extraordinaire Daisy Rollo‘s team was once again in the Spirent stand to keep me caffeinated!)

And so we experienced another frenetic MWC. Here’s some key observations…


Dr. Erik Pennings (SOLiD Director) presents at the Small Cell Zone

The Network Gets Smarter

From the macro to indoors, the network is moving toward becoming more dynamic to “steer” capacity resources to where they are needed which informs a fundamental shift in how networks are to be architected.

In their now-annual state of the industry manifesto, Real Wireless observes:

“At the core, virtualization, cloud RAN and SDN propose bringing the power of centralized resource into the wireless space. This offers the promise that capacity can be temporarily increased in specific areas when needed, for example at train stations during rush hour and then moved elsewhere. This is a brand-new area and, though the challenges for MNOs are significant (particularly in the cost of front-haul), the potential is clear if these can be addressed.”

The flow of news releases at MWC reflects this as evidenced through RAN initiatives from Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, Telefonica and Brocade.

At the end user level, the same principal applies where capacity moves where it is needed. Imagine a stadium where capacity first supports tailgate festivities in the parking lot and then shifts indoors for kickoff. Or capacity reallocated from the stands during the game to the concession areas for halftime. And finally, from inside the stadium to the parking lot after the game and ultimately redistributed into the macro network as fans board public transportation or become ensnarled in traffic away from the venue.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.44.24 PMOutdoor Densification Revisited

News that AT&T is migrating from its plan to deploy 40,000 small cells begs the question, “So how do we densify urban areas?”

The problem remains to address the spikes when demand exceeds macro capacity by 10 to 15 times.

In our presentation in the Small Cell Zone, we observed that macro and high power oDAS methods are inefficient and ineffective methods. Similarly, small cells don’t necessarily inherently solve the problem due to the absence of a ubiquitous process to address backhaul, site acquisition, monetization and network management to support widescale deployment and the fact that multiple operators exist within the market. (For more, see our post from 2014)

Last year saw the Ericsson and Phillips Zero Site solution. This year Freescale and TTP demonstrated a small cell add-on to existing light pole infrastructure. But both approaches continue to be single-operator centric.

Instead we suggest the need for a broader collocation approach to support the deployment of multiple operators and services on a street pillar such as the SOLiD CityDAS. Why try to solve deployment challenges multiple times when it can be addressed once?

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.42.37 PMThe Enterprise Battleground

One of the most compelling and underserved market segments is the enterprise space that is defined as buildings smaller than 500,000 square feet and larger than 100,000, as noted by our friend David Chambers at ThinkSmallCell who in his MWC recap noted:

“There was a lot of optimism in this market segment, which is definitely growing. I sense that with many initial LTE network investments now well advanced, operators are finally finding time to respond to in-building opportunities – there’s certainly strong demand for it from venue owners.”

This opportunity evokes the thesis of our previous post where I argued that the “toolkit approach” strategy – which consists of DAS, small cells, Wi-Fi, C-RAN and future architectures likely based on passive optical LAN (POL) – needs to evolve.

Indeed, SpiderCloud and Airvana are responding with enterprise small cell solutions that increasingly borrow from the DAS playbook (support for multiple services). Meanwhile the DAS OEMs are advancing solutions that exhibit some of the best characteristics of small cells (ease of deployment).

We believe the common characteristics of successful solutions within the densification toolkit address needs that include reduced TCO (total cost of ownership), flexibility (to add services and mitigate the rip-and-replace cycle) and intelligence (performance optimization, energy efficiency and analytics).

Hasta la Proxima, Barça!

Mercifully, the prediction by Peter Jarich of a steady diet of 5G didn’t overwhelm us. But, hey, there’s always next year!

For more updates, please see coverage from Fierce Wireless, RCR Wireless and Light Reading as well as posts from ThinkSmallCell and iBwave.

So without further ado, here are the sights of MWC 2015…





Lemme guess… Flight’s delayed? Hanging our with Vicki (4G Americas) and Abe & Claire (TIA NOW) and others before the long short night






The queue for Fast Track at El Prat



The universal phenomenon of one guy doing the work… Thanks Urs!



Let’s get this party started



Team SOLiD



Mike Collado presents on densification trends at the Small Cell Zone



Team SOLiD Dinner



Lunching with Lori and Brian from Hutton Communications



Dr. Pennings presents on C-RAN at Small Cell Zone



Robot directing human at SK Telecom



You can dance if you want to…



Welcome to a 12-hour delay at JFK

An Unlikely Discussion at MWC

By Mike Collado
February 25th, 2015

IMG_20140222_105905_697[1]It’s that time again for jetlag, sore feet and one-hour taxi queues… For missed appointments due to Google-Outlook-Apple calendars that didn’t sync… And serendipitous encounters with long-lost colleagues on La Rambla at 2 am.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you Mobile World Congress.

(“And I like it!” as Mick Jagger says)

It’s been predicted by our friends Ed Gubbins, Peter Jarich and Joe Madden (among others) that a certain number (5) and a letter (G) will dominate conversations at this year’s congress.

(Cue Ted Nugent: “5G fever, duh, duh, duh…”)

While we understand the allure of the promise of fiber-like wireless speeds, the topic we’re keen for is network densification.

Unfortunately, the discussion won’t likely progress beyond the current mantra of, “It’s gonna to be a toolkit approach.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 2.03.44 PM

Courtesy of Joe Madden, Mobile Experts

The Densification Challenge

Iain Gillott from iGR identifies in a paper sponsored by SOLiD that “Mobile bandwidth demand is rapidly increasing around the world. In North America, iGR expects that by 2017 the consumption of mobile data per month will increase more than six times over its level in 2012. But, the deeper issue gets lost in this statistic. Within any given geographic market, there will be locations where the mobile data network will be unable to meet the average level of data demand simply due to the congregation of large numbers of users.”

Joe Madden from Mobile Experts quantifies this “data tsunami” as having properties whereby “data demand is ‘peaky’, with 15x higher demand during peak hours” and “data demand is increasingly ‘spotty’ with hotzone demand up to 500 times higher in some cells than in other cells.”

The solution? Make the network denser.

Pat Diamond from Key2mobile, an early stage company which is focused on the urban wireless market, defines densification as the marrying up of both coverage and capacity within the wireless network.

The key is getting coverage and capacity where the users are and when the users need it.

IMG_0350The Toolkit Approach

Only a few short years ago, the industry buzz was that small cells would be the death knell for DAS (distributed antenna systems).

Touted as a sure thing for densifying outdoor spaces, the wide-scale deployment of small cells has been slowed by the absence of a ubiquitous process which Small Cell Forum Chairman Alan Law says includes backhaul, site acquisition, monetization and network management. Similarly, Ken Rehbehn at 451 Research suggests that the key challenges center around real estate and power. Currently, small cell deployment is focused on indoor spaces which are low-hanging fruit having fewer obstacles.

Meanwhile, Stuart Carlaw at ABI Research observes that “DAS is evolving at a frightening pace” and is well-positioned to economically solve for both large (>500K sq. ft.) and medium (100-500K sq. ft.) venues.

Stu’s colleague – Nick Marshall – hypothesized during a briefing late last year that densification solutions may likely look more like DAS than a small cell.

And then there’s Wi-Fi which certain analysts including Ken Rehbehn and Joe Madden view as a compelling play for densifying indoor corporate environments.

Which brings us to the toolkit approach…

When asked why not just use small cells for everything during a panel discussion at LTE North America, our friend Dr. Derek (a/k/a Derek Peterson, CTO of Boingo) responded, “Why not use all the tools in the toolkit?”

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 2.13.15 PM

Courtesy of Joe Madden, Mobile Experts

Not Far Enough

Remember “the voice” in the movie Field of Dreams that urged protagonist Ray Kinsella to “go the distance?”

We observe that our industry – for the most part – is still stuck on the Beatles or the Stones debate (we’re borrowing this great analogy from Dr. Derek): do we densify with DAS or small cells?

But why not the Beatles AND the Stones? More importantly, why not the Beatles AND the Stones AND Dylan AND Hendrix?

We note that our industry is struggling to advance the toolkit conversation to a decision tree discussion which examines the rationale for selecting among DAS, small cells, Wi-Fi, C-RAN and future architectures likely based on passive optical LAN (POL). To jumpstart the conversation, SOLiD sponsored a paper by David Chambers at ThinkSmallCell but we maintain there is much more thought leadership to be done.

We believe that perhaps the most compelling gap to be solved is for the underserved “middle ground” indoor market that is best characterized as enterprise venues (think hotels and office buildings).

We’re not alone. Jennifer Pigg at 451 Research remarked at a recent conference that agendas would better serve the educational needs of attendees by avoiding yet another Super Bowl venue case study. And Joe Madden has identified this market as an important emerging battleground.

We believe the common characteristics of successful solutions within the densification toolkit address needs that include reduced TCO (total cost of ownership), flexibility (to add services and mitigate the rip-and-replace cycle) and intelligence (performance optimization, energy efficiency and analytics).

As an industry colleague recently shared: “The next few years are gonna be a helluva ride.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 11.25.21 AM

We’ll even have real, live human beings in our stand!

See Us at MWC

Team SOLiD is showcasing our RF and Optical Transport solutions in Hall 6, Stand L41.

We also have the privilege to be included on the agenda at the Small Cell Zone (Hall 7, Stand F61) which is hosted by the Small Cell Forum (SOLiD is a member) and features presentations from executives and thought leaders we most admire. We’ll present on “The Densification Toolkit Evolution and Revolution” (Monday at 14:00) and “Getting Clarity on Cloud-RAN” (Tuesday at 14:00).

Please message below in comments or contact us to meet; or just stop by!

Keep an eye out for updates on our blog, LinkedIn and Twitter.

On The Road Again

By Mike Collado
February 17th, 2015

IMG_0430To quote Big & Rich: Well we’re comin’ to your city…

(Or at least likely nearby!)

One of the things that energizes us the most is getting into the marketplace to meet with buyers and partners and to share thought leadership.

5G comes with the promise of fiber-like speeds. It also comes with the opportunity for new market leadership because infrastructure must be overhauled to accommodate capacity.

Needless to say, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Which is why events will remain an important and relevant vehicle to debate densification strategies and technologies.

For the latest listing of SOLiD events, please visit our website.

Here’s our calendar to-date:


agl_newAGL Regional Conference
2/18 – 2/18
Long Beach
Panelist: “Case Studies in Small Cells and DAS”

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logo no tagline

3/22 – 3/26
Exhibitor (Graybar)
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mwc 2015 logoMobile World Congress
3/2 – 3/5
Exhibitor: Hall 6, Stand L41
Presenter: “The Densification Toolkit Evolution & Revolution” & “Getting Clarity on Cloud-RAN”

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Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 8.54.23 AMThe CIBET Initiative

3/9 – 3/13
Sponsor / Trainer / Exhibitor
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3/16 – 3/20
Las Vegas
Exhibitor (Hutton Communications, Booth #620)
Panelist: “Introduction to HetNets and Small Cells” & “A Study of In-Building Wireless”
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3/31 – 3/31
New York
Annual Sponsor / Exhibitor
Panelist: “DAS & WiFi – A Symbiotic Relationship”
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4/19 – 4/20
Panelist: “The Wireless Technology Roadmap: A Trip Into the Future”
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4/27 – 4/30
Hollywood, FL
Tee Box Sponsor: 11th Annual PCIA Golf Outing
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6/8 – 6/10/2015
New Orleans
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6/9 – 6/11

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.21.46 AM

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.22.03 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.21.07 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.21.25 AM

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?