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New Beginnings

By Mike Collado
January 25th, 2016
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Foundation Day Celebration at SOLiD’s Seoul Headquarters in 2015

The combination of digging out this weekend from Winter Snow Jonas and watching the NFL conference championship games served as a reminder that we’re only 25 days into 2016. (For a look a back on 2015, check out our Year in Photos!)

Like many, I find the start of the new year to be an opportunity to embrace new goals, new outlooks and new approaches.

At SOLiD, we’ve already made changes…

Most significantly, we announced last week that SOLiD Inc. has acquired the North American operation including all assets, business dealings, and resources.

This is an exciting and important next step in advancing SOLiD’s success and growth in both the North American and global wireless markets. As “ONE SOLiD”, we are stronger and better positioned to accomplish great things.

ONE SOLiD is a win for the markets we serve by increasing our ability to offer a broader product portfolio and a more competitive value proposition by leveraging our portfolio of RF Amplifier, RF Radio and Optical Transport core capabilities that have been battle-tested in the global markets.

(For more information, here is our acquisition FAQs plus a video interview by RCR’s Martha DeGrasse of newly-appointed president for SOLiD Americas, Ken Sandfeld.)

In the spirit of change, we’re making other changes you’ll be seeing soon.

We just gave our homepage a facelift to more effectively showcase new and relevant information for myriad stakeholder interests. Among them, be sure to check out our new Bold Ideas section. The same layout and format will soon carry over to our secondary pages. And we’ll soon reflect our entire global initiative. Please let us know what you think!

Our blog is also changing, starting with its name.

“The Inside Story” was a clever mash-up for conveying the “scoop” for the in-building wireless industry. And it served us well.

But the market has evolved and continues to do so at a rapid pace. SOLiD, too, has responded and continues to do so with a portfolio of solutions that enable densification from the edge of the core network to the building or pole and ultimately to the handset. Put simply, SOLiD is more than in-building DAS.

In addition to changing the name, we’ll bring you new topics and trends to build upon and compliment some of our key themes from 2015 including the Middleprise and Public-Safety Imperative. Plus you’ll hear from more voices at SOLiD and from within the industry in addition to my own.

So stay tuned. Until then, here’s to new beginnings!

Now back to the snow…

 

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Snow topped out around 30 inches for director of marketing Scott Gregory!

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.”

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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?”

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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.”

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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.

Jetlag & Powerful Connections at Mobile World Congress 2014

By Mike Collado
March 3rd, 2014

IMG_20140222_105905_697[1]Mobile World Congress is a mashup of experiential perspectives.

If you’re a glass-is-half-empty type, MWC is about sleep deprivation. 45-minute waits in the queue at the metro or taxi stand. And sore feet (our friend Zoran Kehler at Reverb Networks says he averaged 15,000+ steps per day based upon his Nike Fuel Band!).

If you’re the glass-is-half-full type, it’s the chance to connect with global business and technology partners to initiate solutions that will be showcased next year in Barcelona. Swill caipirinhas with FierceWireless editors Mike Dano and Phil Goldstein at 1:30 AM. Or share a taxi with Damon Wayans.

MWC is also full of contradictions.

In spite of drawing more than 85,000 attendees, MWC is an incredibly cozy event where one is constantly bumping into current and former colleagues among the sea of people.

And even though the only common denominator in the Fira Gran Via is mobile, friends such as iBwave say MWC and the unfocused sprawl across eight enormous exhibit halls is by far the most impactful conference on their event calendar.

So, what did we learn?

A common theme was that the industry continues to struggle to discern between the slideware and facts surrounding the use of indoor and outdoor small cells to solve for network densification.

Last fall, Ken Rehbehn at Yankee Group quipped that small cell hype had outpaced reality. And many attendees at MWC were inquiring where the small cells are.

It’s long been our position that small cells are not the death knell for Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) as some have previously suggested. Widespread deployment of small cells is inevitable, but DAS isn’t going away. Rather, both will play important roles in a pragmatic “toolbox” approach.

Which ushers in a related topic: backhaul strategies for network densification. Which appears to be the elephant in the room compared to the hot topic of small cells (our friend analyst Iain Gillott at iGR previously blogged about this).

Much ado has justifiably been made of wireless backhaul technologies. Yet industry experts at last year’s Small Cells World Summit told us that wireless operators prefer fiber when it is available. And through our experience in working with wireless operators in South Korea, we know that interference from everyday occurrences such as buses, rainstorms and – er – bird poop can significantly impact wireless backhaul QoS.

Fact is, given the scarcity of real estate and business process to ubiquitously roll out densification strategies such as oDAS and small cells, backhaul similarly requires a toolkit approach.

We’ll have more on these topics in future posts.

For a concise and spot-on (in our opinion) take on MWC 2014, check out Frank Rayal‘s (Xona Partners) post: Observations on MWC 2014 – My Takeaways.

And now for the photos…

 

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Team SOLiD celebrating another successful week in Barcelona

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Before: Building our stand

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After: Ready to greet visitors

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Flamenco dancing during Pepcom’s MobileFocus Global pre-event cocktail

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Ken Sandfeld showcases SOLiD’s new products for RCR Wireless’s Jeff Mucci

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Sue Marek (FierceWireless), Jinsung Choi (SK Telecom), Kris Rinne (AT&T), Aicha Evans (Intel), Chris Pearson (4G Americas) & Rasmus Hellberg (Qualcomm) present during the Road to LTE Advanced luncheon

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SOLiD’s Cloud RAN solutions will play a role in the Road to LTE Advanced

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The ongoing construction of Gaudi’s Sagrada Família

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Gaudi’s Barcelona Cathedral

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La Rambla

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One of the many vendors at La Boqueria off La Rambla

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A ghost town. The Fira Gran Via clears out fast. See you in 2015!

Lessons from a Winemaker

By Mike Collado
January 30th, 2014

We had the chance to spend a day in Napa last week during our Annual Company Meeting where we met Tom Davies, President of V. Sattui Winery.

Aside from being a great host (check them out – fun wines, amazing Cheese Shop & Italian Deli, and stunning grounds), Tom is an insightful business leader whose stories about the winery were inspirational.

Four things resonated with our team…

Doing Things Differently

Tom likes to camouflage his business acumen by saying he’s a farmer. But it’s clear he and the winery are pioneers.

V. Sattui pioneered not only the wine tour experience – by being the first in Napa to invite the public to come to the winery and hang out on the property by providing picnic tables – but also the wine retail business – by establishing the first direct-to-consumer wine club.

Doing things differently is a key part of what makes SOLiD unique.

Such as tailoring the ALLIANCE distributed antenna system (DAS) around the requirements of building owners. Or warehousing products on-site and pre-configuring gear to fulfill orders within days (not weeks) and to simplify field deployments.

 

Doing Whatever it Takes

Before the winery scaled and deployed modern technology, Tom helped cork bottles by hand.

SOLiD is no stranger to heroics. From getting on a plane to be on-site the next day to troubleshoot or racing to the airport with a part because we missed a freight cutoff, we’re committed to moving mountains for our customers.

 

Always Be Advancing

Tom describes a healthy paranoia of not letting the winery’s success distract from the hunger to advance.

Even though V. Sattui pioneered the direct-to-consumer retail model, the winery has continued to challenge itself to innovate and improve.

Similarly, although V. Sattui Director of Winemaking Brooks Painter was recently recognized as “Winemaker of the Year” at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, the winery continues to push to safeguard from losing its edge.

In spite of our success at SOLiD, we’re energized every day to raise the bar by innovating technology, leading the industry with new initiatives, delivering “wow” to our customers, and working with the best and the brightest in the industry (we’re hiring!).

 

Building a Wonderful Brand

Tom pinpoints Quality, Value and Service as key attributes of the V. Sattui brand and is dogmatic in protecting and preserving it.

At SOLiD, our brand is about Creativity, Honesty and Reliability.

Or, as the mnemonic that Dr. Lee offered our team:

  • S = Solid professionals
  • O = Open minds
  • L = Leadership
  • I = Integrity
  • D = Dream (about the future)

 

We look forward to applying these lessons from a winemaker to our business. Let us know how we’re doing.