Connect (X)

Category Archives: Small Cells

Zinwave Pilots Private LTE in Fortune 100 Enterprises

By Don Bishop, Exec. Editor, Assoc. Publisher, AGL Magazine

Zinwave is piloting private LTE cellular deployments with several Fortune 100 customers, using its OnGo DAS system, the company announced at the Connectivity Expo, Connect (x), conducted by the Wireless Infrastructure Association in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“This is a groundbreaking announcement because it will illustrate real-world use cases of companies using OnGo to create a private cellular network, which is something that most companies have only theorized about doing,” Scott Willis, Zinwave’s president and CEO said. “OnGo works on the unlicensed CBRS band 48. This means customers can set up their own private cellular networks and use the same LTE technology used by the operators, which is critical for the adoption and growth of IoT applications.”

In-building wireless connectivity supplier Zinwave displayed its fiber-based, full-spectrum-enabled technology designed to empower the wireless frequencies of the future. Willis said that Zinwave’s solution is a DAS that guarantees quality cellular connectivity indoors, and Zinwave’s DAS solution, known as OnGo, is the only one that can cover all carrier, public safety frequencies and private LTE spectrum.

Zinwave’s UNItivity 5000 DAS solution consists of a primary hub, which is a space- and energy-efficient unit installed in the network closet, according to Willis. The network also consists of an RF base station, fiber-optic cabling, optional secondary hubs (which are even more compact) and remote units. Additionally, with only five total components, Zinwave’s UNItivity 5000 has easy, Wi-Fi-like installation.
The customers piloting OnGo include the biggest names in consumer electronics, aviation and automotive manufacturing, according to Willis. Any enterprise vertical, including CREs, health care, airports, public venues, university and hospitality, is a potential customer.

“All businesses should be thinking strategically about how to create private network environments that position their organizations to remain competitive,” Willis said. “To take full advantage of the economic benefits of IoT applications, enterprises must consider the mobile platform best suited to enable their business-critical solutions. This includes businesses that need a better than Wi-Fi connection for maximized efficiency, businesses that need an extra layer of security for improved protection and businesses that need the highest quality mobile service within a private environment for optimal productivity.”

Speaking about the kind of technology the Zinwave technology replaces and the advantage the Zinwave technology offers compared with the technology otherwise in use today, Willis said that Zinwave provides a wireless connectivity layer that ensures high-quality cellular and public safety connectivity. With the addition of OnGo (private LTE), Zinwave DAS could potentially replace Wi-Fi where reliability and security are necessary for business-critical applications, he said.

“OnGo offers a best-in-class quality of service for businesses that need to function at maximum productivity,” Willis said. “With ever-increasing growth, adoption and value being driven by connectivity demands, such as IoT applications, Wi-Fi won’t be able to meet the increasing demand for fast and reliable bandwidth.”

Willis said that the future of the wireless landscape is difficult to predict, which is why Zinwave created a wideband DAS solution that covers all commonly used carriers’ public safety and OnGo frequencies on one hardware layer. Changes in wireless frequencies can be done through a software update (often remotely through Zinwave’s network operations center), instead of having to purchase additional hardware.

“Regarding the future of OnGo specifically, OnGo holds tremendous promise for the enterprise,” Willis said. “Taking full advantage of IoT technology will require businesses to deploy higher quality networks than what Wi-Fi can provide, and be seamlessly interoperable with commercial cellular and public safety frequencies.”

Don Bishop
Executive Editor and Associate Publisher
Don Bishop joined AGL Media Group in 2004. He helped to launch and was the founding editor of AGL Magazine, the AGL Bulletinemail newsletter (now AGL eDigest) and DAS and Small Cells magazine (now AGL Small Cell Magazine). He served as host for AGL Conferences from 2010 to 2012, appearing at 12 conferences. Bishop writes and otherwise obtains editorial content published in AGL Magazine, AGL eDigest and the AGL Media Group website. Bishop also photographs and films conferences and conventions. Many of his photographs have appeared on the cover, in articles and in the “AGL Tower of the Month” center spread photo feature in AGL Magazine. During his time with Wiesner Publishing, Primedia Business Information and AGL Media Group, he helped to launch several magazines and edited or managed editorial departments for a dozen magazines and their associated websites, newsletters and live event coverage. He is a former property manager, radio station owner and CEO of a broadcast engineering consulting firm. He was elected a Fellow of the Radio Club of America in 1988, received its Presidents Award in 1993, and served on its board of directors for nine years. Don Bishop may be contacted at: dbishop@aglmediagroup.com.

Illinois Governor Signs Small Cell Legislation

The steady march of state legislation transforming the regulatory process for deploying small cells in the right-of-way continued last week as Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a measure giving carriers a “fair and predictable process” for small cell deployment.

The bill classifies small wireless facilities as permitted-uses and subject only to administrative review if they are collocated in rights-of-way or outside rights-of-way in property zoned exclusively for commercial or industrial use.

However, the act said the small wireless facilities must be designed in a manner “consistent with the character of the area.”  Additionally, it does not apply to a municipality with a population of more than 1 million or more, in other words Chicago.

Delays in processing have been a constant source of friction between municipalities and wireless carriers. The Bill sets out certain municipal deadlines before an application is “deemed approved.”

  • 30 days to determine if an application is complete.
  • 90 days to approve or deny an application to collocate a small wireless facility on an existing utility pole or wireless support structure
  • 120 days to approve or deny an application to collocate a small wireless facility that includes the installation of a new utility pole shall be processed on a nondiscriminatory

Another source of irritation has been rates and fees. According the bill, a municipality may charge an application fee of up to $650 for an application to collocate a single small wireless facility on an existing utility pole or wireless support structure and up to $350 for each small wireless facility addressed in an application to collocate more than one small wireless facility on existing utility poles or wireless support structures. An application fee of $1,000 may be charged for each small wireless facility addressed in an application that includes the installation of a new utility for the collocation.

The bill sets the annual recurring rate for collocation of small cell wireless facilities on authority utility poles $200 per year.

Ohio Small Cell Bill Result of Compromise

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

After surviving lawsuits involving 70 municipalities in Ohio over the last year and passing the House and Senate, small cell legislation is heading to Gov. Kasich for his signature. The bill is an example of the push-pull, give-and-take necessary for next generation networks to get deployed.

House Bill 478 and its companion Senate Bill 331 are the product of months of negotiations and compromise between local governments and the wireless industry, according to its sponsors State Representatives Ryan Smith and Sarah LaTourette. For more than three months on a bi-weekly basis, municipal and telecom officials participated in conference calls that usually lasted five hours, according to Kent Scarrett, executive director of the Ohio Municipal League.

“On these calls, pain-staking time was devoted to craft language that addressed municipalities’ concerns with the small cell facility language enacted through Senate Bill 331, while also addressing the telecommunication industry’s real concerns of ensuring greater predictability in deploying new technology throughout the state via Ohio’s cities and villages,” Scarrett said in testimony before the Ohio House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee.

Municipalities receive more control over the placement, construction and design of small cells in the public right of way in the final, revised version of the bill compared with its predecessor, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

The legislation creates a regulatory provides the wireless industry with uniform fees to attach to municipal-owned poles and a uniform process for obtaining permits in the public right of way.

Additionally, the competitive rules apply to both cable operators and wireless service providers for the operation of small cell facilities.

Keith Pennachio, EVP of SQUAN, applauded the passage of the small cell bill, but he called for more regulation poles owned by utilities.

“While the passage of Bill 478 is a monumental step that will benefit long-term proliferation of technologies like small cells and 5G, more will need to be done with the utility sector to create an equitable platform for joint use,” Pennachio said.

When it comes locating an antenna on a utility pole, the pricing differences between a regulated pole versus a non-regulated pole can be extreme. A regulated pole can be limited to $24 per year, while a utility can demand $2,000 annually for an unregulated pole, according to Pennachio.

“Poles owned by utility companies represent a distinctly different set of hurdles,” he said. “Plus, a single polygon can have poles owned by the utilities, the municipality and the telecom companies, which means we are faced with three different sets of rules for one small cell deployment.”

With the passage of Bill 478, greater focus should be given to utility-regulated poles and the compensation mechanisms for fair use in small cell applications, Pennachio said.

J. Sharpe Smith
Senior Editor/eDigest
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with  Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.  Sharpe Smith may be contacted at: ssmith@aglmediagroup.com.

Comm-Infra Provider Combination Blurs Telecom Lines

J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

You may not have heard of ZenFi Networks and Cross River Fiber, which agreed to merge this week. But the communications infrastructure provider that will result will have operations across the New York City and northern New Jersey metro areas spanning both wireline and wireless worlds.

ZenFi brings its primary focus on helping mobile operators densify their networks to the merger, while Cross River Fiber delivers its primary concentration on telecom solutions for large enterprises and carriers. The resulting entity will have more than 700 route miles of fiber optic network, 130 on-net buildings, 49 colocation facilities and 1,700 outdoor wireless locations with more than 3,000 under contract.

“The merger enhances our network reach, deepens our product portfolio, and delivers a next generation network infrastructure that is the foundation of tomorrow’s communications networks,” Ray LaChance, CEO of ZenFi Networks, said. “The merger not only extends each company’s network reach but also provides an enhanced product set and customer diversity. The entity known as ZenFi Networks will deliver the combined services of both companies.”

The next generation of network infrastructure, according to LaChance, is one where the underlying infrastructure supports both enterprises’ wireline telecom services needs and carriers’ wireless needs.

“In the future, there is going to be less and less differentiation between traditional telecoms and tower companies,” he said. “It is all converging. It is one unifying infrastructure and the glue that keeps it together is under fiber and a network of collocation facilities.”

ZenFi deployed its first fiber infrastructure in support of outdoor DAS installations alongside existing enterprise fiber networks in 2008. There was a distinct separation of the networks.

“The old networks were built for backhaul of sparsely connected end points,” La Chance said. “We saw a need for a new type of network that is focused on a lot of fiber capacity and a lot of connection points, one on every street corner.”

ZenFi provides fronthaul fiber and passive wavelength services, facilitating the wireless industry’s initiative to move baseband processing from antenna sites to hub locations, known as centralized RAN.

“When I meet with the mobile operators now, they clearly see that fronthaul is a horizontal tower. There is a lot of velocity behind this convergence,” LaChance said. “Fronthaul fiber is being built much like towers are. It is a shared resource to get economies of scale. We see that as a huge opportunity.”

Both companies provide services in their respective markets: ZenFi Networks in the five boroughs of New York City, and Cross River Fiber in New Jersey. The current ZenFi Networks and Cross River management teams will continue to lead the combined company with the support of Ridgemont Equity Partners, a middle market private equity firm and majority shareholder of Cross River Fiber.

“In addition, our partnership with Ridgemont Equity Partners further strengthens ZenFi Network’s financial position by providing access to additional capital to continue to deliver on our vision of building the most pervasive and high capacity connectivity platform in the region,” LaChance said.

ExteNet’s Acquisition of Axiom Another Example of Blurring Lines

Another example of wireline/wireless convergence occurred in December of last year when ExteNet Systems acquired MetroFiber d/b/a Axiom Fiber Networks, which added 20 miles of 864-strand fiber-count network in lower Manhattan ExteNet’s fiber-optic network that supports the firm’s +2,000 nodes constructed or under construction in the New York metropolitan area.

But there was more to Axiom Fiber Networks than just fiber. The firm provided telecom infrastructure services over its dark fiber network to enterprise customers including, financial firms, government agencies, healthcare providers, educational institutions and media organizations.

Axiom goes deep inside the enterprise to provide companies with dark fiber and custom network solutions. With the deal closed, ExteNet can pursue new vectors in the enterprise space.

The Axiom network, which has five major carrier hotels, allows interconnection and connectivity to the cloud. It also gives the firm the ability to put together solutions that interconnect buildings with edge devices at the carrier hotels.

J. Sharpe Smith
Senior Editor/eDigest
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with  Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.  Sharpe Smith may be contacted at: ssmith@aglmediagroup.com.

Sprint Plans Thousands of Triband Upgrades, Hundreds of Thousands of Small Cells

By John Saw

As we close out our fiscal year I’m excited to report some great progress with our Next-Gen Network build and the positive impact it’s making for our customers. The billions we’re investing in our network is about putting our spectrum advantage to work, building a superior 4G network and launching mobile 5G in the first half of next year.

Thousands of Triband Upgrades

One of the most important things we’ve been doing over the past two years is to upgrade our macro sites to use all three of our spectrum bands – 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz. When we put all three bands together, customers get our fastest, most reliable service. Today we now have thousands of triband upgrades on-air in cities across the country.

The addition of 2.5 GHz to more cell sites is key to giving customers a superior data experience. Today nearly every 2.5 GHz macro site uses either 40 MHz of spectrum with two-channel carrier aggregation, or 60 MHz of spectrum with three-channel carrier aggregation. As a result, when our customers use our 2.5 GHz service, they are getting our fastest average download speed in the country at 42 Mbps according to Ookla Speedtest Intelligence data.1 These great speeds are why we’re blanketing the country with 2.5 GHz.

Northern New Jersey is just one example of the results we see when we execute our plan. In the past 12 months our average download speed jumped 68 percent from 14.15 Mbps to 23.81 Mbps, and customers’ time on LTE now runs above 94 percent, with more improvements on the way.2

Hundreds of Thousands of Small Cells

Our Next-Gen Network build also includes densifying the network by adding large volumes of 2.5 GHz small cells in every major market. The award-winning Sprint Magic Box is key to our plan, and it continues to gain momentum. This all-wireless small cell not only boosts indoor data speeds, but more importantly, our Net Promoter and Quality of Experience scores with customers.

We’ve now distributed nearly 200,000 Sprint Magic Boxes to consumers and businesses in more than 200 cities, making this one of the largest small cell deployments in the U.S. We remain on track to further densify the network by deploying 1 million Sprint Magic Boxes as part of our multi-year roadmap. And we’re working on some innovative new product features to share in the coming months.

In addition to Sprint Magic Box, we have a number of other flexible, low-cost small cell solutions in our toolkit. This includes strand mount small cells. We’ve deployed thousands of these over the past few months, and our numbers are expected to ramp up dramatically by summer. As a result, customers are experiencing significantly faster data speeds. In preliminary internal drive tests where we’ve deployed 2.5 GHz strand mount small cells, the product delivered download speeds up to 16 times faster than just relying on our macro sites. And time spent on 2.5 GHz while driving throughout the test areas increased up to 58%.

Sprint Most Improved in Speed

While we still have work to do, our triband upgrades and new deployments have helped drive a 36 percent increase in Sprint’s national average download speed year-on-year, the largest increase of the four big carriers.3 Today Sprint is #1 for fastest average download speed in 100 cities according to Ookla Speedtest Intelligence data, including cities Austin, Denver, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City and Seattle as well as the market of Indianapolis.4

Seattle, WA
The availability of 800 MHz in Seattle has been a huge boost for the network, providing better in-building coverage and increasing overall time on LTE. We also have several thousand Sprint Magic Boxes deployed across Western Washington making a big difference for our customers.

Pittsburgh, PA
Sprint customers in Pittsburgh are having an outstanding data experience thanks to the fact that nearly all of our macro cell sites are now triband, with more than a hundred upgrades made in the past year across the market.

Austin, TX
At SXSW last month Sprint customers had a great experience on our network with more 2.5 GHz cell sites deployed in downtown Austin prior to the festival. Today approximately 75 percent of the market now has triband service with more upgrades on the way.

Building the Sprint 5G Network

We’re also well underway rolling out 256 QAM and 4X4 MIMO nationwide to improve the efficiency of our spectrum and drive even faster data speeds. These technologies, combined with three-channel carrier aggregation using 60 MHz of 2.5 GHz, will enable us to provide customers with Gigabit Class LTE service in more than 100 of the largest markets in the country. Our 4G LTE Advanced and Gigabit LTE network will be critical to providing customers with a seamless experience when we launch mobile 5G in the first half of 2019.

1 Sprint’s analysis of Speedtest Intelligence data from 3/1/18 to 3/31/18 for all Android mobile results comparing Sprint’s average download speeds on 2.5 GHz spectrum to 800 MHz,1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz combined

2 Sprint’s analysis of Speedtest Intelligence data from 3/1/17 to 3/31/18 for all mobile results

3 Ookla’s analysis of Speedtest Intelligence data comparing March 2017 to March 2018 for all mobile results

4 Ookla’s analysis of Speedtest Intelligence data from 1/1/18 to 3/31/18 for all mobile results


John Saw is Chief Technology Officer for Sprint. This is a reprint of a blog that ran on the Sprint website on April 17, 2108.