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Posts Tagged ‘ WiFi Offload ’

2014 Most Read Posts

By Mike Collado
December 29th, 2014

P1010744As we close out 2014 (and to quote Frank Sinatra, “It was a very good year…”), here’s a look at the top 10 Inside Story posts you read this year.

In many ways, our industry advanced.

But we also continued to wrestle with past questions.

We enjoy bringing you our insights and look forward to sharing our thoughts and observations with you in 2015.

Would you do us a favor? Use the comments below to tell us what you like and don’t like about our posts as well as what you’d like to read about more next year.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Thanks for reading!

 

Number 1: The DAS Equipment Vendors
An oldie (from 2011) but goodie… In just three short years the OEM landscape continues to change!

Number 2: Teenagers, Standards & Education: Themes at BICSI Fall Conference In-Building Panel
Questions abound from design and deployment stakeholders on ownership, choosing among DAS or Small Cells or WiFi, and public-safety.

Number 3: WiFi on a DAS? First ask yourself why
Convergence and all-fiber infrastructure inform that the industry will keep wrestling with this question.

Number 4: Where are the Small Cells?
Process and technology continue to be obstacles for widescale deployment of small cells.

Number 5: What are the Business Models for In-Building Coverage for Healthcare & Why Look at Them Now?
A look at who should own, pay and manage the network for DAS deployments in hospitals.

Number 6: Advice Before You Jump Into A DAS Project
Practical advice whether this is your first DAS rodeo or not.

Number 7: Not Quite Super, But a SOLiD Week in Vegas
Observations from the latest incarnation of CTIA’s annual conference: it’s ain’t over yet…

Number 8: Playing it Safe in the Big Easy
In spite of a slow start, FirstNet is narrowing the gap between the commercial cellular and public-safety industries.

Number 9: Densification is a Toolbox Approach. So, Now What?
Now that the industry has advanced from “DAS versus Small Cells” to a “toolbox approach”, it begs the question of how do we decide?

Number 10: oDAS + Collocation = FTW
We predict an oDAS renaissance where OEMs innovate small cell-like solutions to lower the coverage canopy beyond macro and high-power 40W DAS.

Emerging Wireless Technology Trends on Campus – Part 5

By Mike Collado
November 1st, 2013

In the final post in our series that has explored wireless technology trends on college and university campuses, we examine the strategies and technologies that will emerge both near-term and further out to address the “data tsunami“.

Higher Education represents what we believe to be one of the most challenging wireless environments.

In our first post, we introduced what is currently the most prolific wireless user: students who’ve grown up in the connected world; who possess multiple wireless devices; and don’t consider bandwidth limitations an option.

The next post focused on university IT Departments that have the unenviable challenge of meeting the wireless expectations of students while operating within shrinking budgets.

Our third post reintroduced Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) which have been deployed on campuses for over 10 years but have become pivotal in recent years to provide capacity for overburdened macro networks as well as coverage for public-safety services. We also identified a funding conundrum which often leaves student dormitories and other buildings unfunded in favor of stadiums and hospitals.

Then in our fourth post, we explored the role of Wi-Fi in the “toolkit” approach to enabling the heterogeneous network (Het-Net).

Convergence and Fiber Networks

Networks are evolving to handle more data; faster, and more perfectly. They will continue to change rapidly – demand on the infrastructure depends on it.

Two key trends in campus technology include convergence and fiber networks.

Increasingly DAS networks will be called upon to support both cellular and public-safety services. The fledgling in-building public-safety market of today is similar to the early days of neutral-host cellular DAS, when building owners insisted on a single platform, as opposed to having three systems installed by three different shareholders.

Meanwhile, Gigabit Ethernet fiber multiplexing solutions will increasingly be deployed to solve fiber exhaustion.

Demand for throughput is being driven by the explosion in Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices, and the emergence of bandwidth-intensive cloud-based services, social networking, advanced collaboration and medical applications. Data throughput and speed are typically constrained by the point-to-point fiber optic links that connect campus buildings.

Fiber multiplexing solutions use wavelength divisional technologies to channelize fiber strands – increasing the capacity of existing fiber deployments without the need to install or lease costly new fiber strands.

As an example, a single strand of fiber can deliver multiple wavelength channels each running symmetrically at 1Gbps up and down stream. This represents significant CAPEX and OPEX savings.

Shift to Fiber and Digital DAS

Although copper cabling (CAT 5 & 6) has long been the standard, over time, the industry will shift to a fiber infrastructure to meet throughput requirements.

Put simply, today’s copper may not be high enough quality to support 1GE speeds. Further, the physical medium of copper is unable to support higher data rates of 10 GE.

Fiber infrastructure is physically smaller and lighter than copper, and is easily installed by technicians. Most importantly, fiber delivers almost unlimited room for future bandwidth expansion.

As a result, DAS will go digital.

Following the trends of convergence of services and the continued emergence of fiber, Radio Frequency (RF) and Internet Protocol (IP) will converge onto a single, digital architecture.

The platform will enable plug-in and support for cellular and public-safety communications, Wi-Fi services and other applications such as RFID, building automation, security and more.

We predict this infrastructure to similarly enable fiber-to-the-desktop.

Ultimately, these next-generation networks will be smarter and more flexible. They’ll handle increased data, enable better use of network resources, and scale capacity – up or down based upon use and need during peak and off-peak times.

At the core will be intelligent backhaul to centralize network management and lower operational expenditures.

This will be essential for higher education campuses.

How Long Will This Take?

Some of these trends may reach fruition by year’s end; others, currently under development, will be several years in the making.

No one fully knows what a good balanced network looks like.

We expect to see new technology trends develop at a rate of at least one new trend every two years, as demand – and solutions to meet demand – continue to grow and evolve.

The problems facing higher education campuses will only grow as they continue to struggle with disparate networks they don’t control, and unlicensed frequencies they cannot maximize or that do not have a clear ROI.

The urgent need to provide clear communication for public safety (hear from public safety experts here, here, here and here) and the exponential growth of the demand for capacity means that technology solutions will need to be consolidated offerings bringing multiple networks together.

They can be monetized and must provide unfettered access for students, employees, safety personnel, and the general public.

To be sure, the years ahead are certainly going to be interesting.

Your Turn

What are the key challenges and trends you are observing?

Note: A version of this article was originally published in 2013 Fall ACUTA Journal.

Emerging Wireless Technology Trends on Campus – Part 4

By Mike Collado
October 31st, 2013

In the preceding posts, we discussed the imbalance between students who consume more wireless capacity than any other demographic and college IT Departments who in spite of shrinking and highly-scrutinized budgets own the challenge of addressing this “data tsunami”.

We then explored how Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are being deployed to solve for network densification and  increasingly enable coverage for indoor and campus-wide public-safety communications.

However, there often remains a funding disparity. There’s a business use case for wireless operators to fund a stadium or the university to fund a hospital but it’s more difficult to build a funding model that includes deploying DAS in dormitories and other campus buildings.

Today we examine where Wi-Fi fits in to the campus wireless toolkit.

DAS Alone May Not Be Sufficient

DAS may not be enough – nor appropriate – to satisfy the capacity requirements.

For example, on game day, the University of Tennessee attracts more than 100,000 fans to Neyland Stadium (a SOLiD DAS Deployment). Demand for capacity for that number of people can strain carriers’ RAN (radio access network), which manifests itself on the user’s handset as showing full-bar signal strength but being unable to upload a photo to, say, Facebook.

That’s where an important campus asset can come into play: unlicensed spectrum on the university’s Wi-Fi network.

Like DAS, Wi-Fi helps augment the macro network. Wi-Fi is attractive because these bands are free and wide -offering big channels to stream data.

And also like DAS, Wi-Fi technology is not new.

But unlike DAS, Wi-Fi uses unlicensed spectrum.

Recent protocols enable wireless data networks to be more robust.

Still, Wi-Fi does not possess the bandwidth and throughput of wired networks.

Campus IT departments must move Access Point (AP) locations, or add additional APs, to deliver services as capacity requirements continually change and increase. And physically shifting infrastructure adds to costs.

There Are No Silver Bullet Solutions

The reality is that there are no silver bullet solutions to wireless communications challenges.

Today’s “toolkit” includes DAS and Wi-Fi and will soon be joined by small cell technology.

Small cells, akin to Wi-Fi AP, are a local base station but differ by using cellular standards.

User requirements vis-à-vis capacity throughput are driving changes that will occur to technology infrastructure, and this will have a profound impact on funding, tracking and monetizing such investments.

Next Post: Near-term and next-generation technology solutions

Note: A version of this article was originally published in 2013 Fall ACUTA Journal.

Are You Ready for Some Wireless?

By Mike Collado
September 5th, 2013

In anxious anticipation of the start of football season, CNN published a story this week that explores the conundrum the sports and entertainment industry is wrestling with: meeting the wireless expectations of today’s uber-connected fan.

Cynics – which includes my wife – will wonder why on earth sports and concert goers need broadband capacity. After all, it’s noisy, you’re there to have fun, and the stadium shows scores from other games, right?

Wrong.

At a recent San Francisco Giants game at AT&T Park, it was the fans who were not looking at their smartphones and tablets that made up the minority.

And just to mollify any argument that you’d expect to see technology on display in Silicon Valley, the same was true at a Lynchburg Hillcats game – a minor league farm team for the Atlanta Braves.

AT&T Park - Home of the San Francisco Giants

 

Calvin Falwell Field - Home of the Lynchburg Hillcats

 

Bringing the Home Game Day Experience to the Stadium

The trend is so acute that both stadium owners and leagues are reacting. According to the CNN article:

The improved home-viewing experience — high-def TV, watching multiple games at once, real-time fantasy-football updates and interaction via social media — has left some NFL stadiums scrambling to catch up. It’s one of the reasons why, before rebounding last year, the NFL lost attendance between 2008 and 2011, forcing the league to alter television-blackout rules.

 

In response, the NFL (see more here) and MLB (see more here) have launched stadium Wi-Fi initiatives.

What will that mean for the fan?

Bleacher Report provides a great vision that includes social media interaction, stadium concessions and a dizzying array of multimedia and game footage.

Earlier this year at DAS and Small Cell Congress, SOLiD hosted a panel of experts that included John Avenson, Vice President of Technology for the Minnesota Twins. Target Field is one of the first stadiums to provide Wi-Fi. It has also deployed a Distributed Antenna System (DAS).

Avenson shared that today’s fans expect to stay connected, and that expectation now transcends generations.

The same panel included a wireless operator who, in describing the stadium of the future, declared that fans simply won’t come if the stadium can’t deliver a great wireless experience.

DAS First, Wi-Fi Later

Here’s where things get interesting…

In its inaugural “State of the Stadium Technology Survey”, Mobile Sports Report editor Paul Kapustka found that DAS is more prevalent that Wi-Fi:

When it comes to wireless connectivity, Wi-Fi might get the headlines, but according to our respondents, Distributed Antenna Systems, or DAS, is actually more popular. Fifty-three percent of survey respondents said their facility already has a full-facility DAS deployment to all areas, while only 33 percent of respondents said they currently offer high-quality Wi-Fi to all seating areas. Why is DAS showing up first, and Wi-Fi later? Simply because of two reasons: Putting in a DAS, a network of smaller, distributed cellular antennas, eliminates the most pressing problem in many large venues: The “no service at all” issue that arises when tens of thousands of cellular customers are competing for access from a few local towers. Though it might be slower than a Wi-Fi connection, DAS provides a working signal to a majority of people in a facility, solving the most vexing problem for many fans, that of having no connection at all.

 

Carriers fund stadium DAS networks to assure strong carrier Net Promoter Scores or Quality of Service for their customers. The concern is that if a fan can’t upload a photo of the winning touchdown, they might just switch cellular providers the next day.

(DAS is also effective for enabling public-safety coverage in the stadium)

But – as we learned at the recent SEAT Conference – carriers are not particularly keen on funding Wi-Fi deployments for the simple reason that they believe the DAS will be sufficient to handle data capacity.

Achieving the Vision

Clearly, DAS is going to be deployed only at high-profile stadium locations. (Sorry, Hillcats fans…)

But satisfying the fans’ broadband needs through Wi-Fi requires addressing the conundrum of paying for the network which the CNN article touches on:

Another reason, Kapustka said, is that the cost of installing Wi-Fi will come out of the pockets of venue owners and operators who have traditionally not needed to invest in such costly projects. Instead, they receive public money to help build stadiums and television money for the right to broadcast games.

“Stadium owners and operators need to get their hands on the fact that they need to put in Wi-Fi like they need to put in plumbing,” Kapustka said.

 

Given the costs to deploy either DAS or Wi-Fi, infrastructure – not revenue models or cellular and Wi-Fi technology – is perhaps the MVP (it just seemed appropriate – smiles) in assuring these networks can scale to enable the connected fan both today and in the future. RCR Wireless captured our thoughts last May at the HetNet Forum‘s DAS in Action event:

 

Your Turn

What are the challenges and opportunities for enabling the Home Game Day Experience at the Stadium?