An invention from VoltServer called Digital Electricity remote power uses packet energy transfer technology to help in-building wireless system providers market their systems to building owners, managers and occupants. Keeping costs low for powering mobile communications system components lets VoltServer build tightly integrated services for equipment vendors, systems integrators and mobile network operators.
— Dan Lowe, chief business officer at VoltServer
Dan Lowe, the company’s chief business officer, said VoltServer began operations a little more than four years ago and began shipping commercial products about three years ago. Speaking at the Marketing to the Enterprise session at the 2017 Wireless Infrastructure Show, he reported that the invention breaks electricity into 700 pulses per second. During a data interval after each pulse, the power system verifies safety on the circuit. If and when the system detects a fault, it shuts off the electricity.
With packet energy transfer, VoltServer equipment can send more than 1,000 watts of power — enough to power all of an in-building wireless system’s DAS remotes, power over Ethernet (PoE) switches for Wi-Fi, and internet of things (IoT) gateways and LED lights, Lowe said. ExteNet Systems bought the first VoltServer remote power system for use in a 64-story tower building that reaches 950 feet high. Lowe said that in about two years’ time, the remote power system has been installed in about 250 large venues.
Packet_Energy_Transfer Lowe thanked Jon J. Davis, vice president of business development for indoor networks at ExteNet Systems, for believing in VoltServer. Lowe shared the stage with Davis during the marketing session.
Because packet energy transfer can send electricity safely over otherwise low-voltage wiring, the remote power equipment can use a small alarm cable or Ethernet cable to send enough power for the first wireless carrier that an indoor wireless system lights up for multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) communications, Lowe said. He said that as an in-building wireless system provider adds Wi-Fi, the VoltServer equipment can power a power-over-Ethernet switch at some of the locations using a little alarm cable that is easy to move around.
“The remote power system would take years to sell if we sold it as a vendor,” Lowe said. “Instead, we work hard to integrate our packet energy transfer technology with all of the equipment vendors that are important to the operators and real estate owners. With free training, we teach construction firms, installation firms and other partners that can take advantage of packet energy transfer to power their radios or digital signage anywhere.”
For owners and tenants alike, electricity bills matter, Lowe said. Tenants also want wireless communications capacity. And wireless system providers want to future-proof their installations. “But our real goal is helping to reduce the entry cost and speed the initial installation,” he said. “For the first service, that’s important.”
Obtaining a good return for the time spent marketing the remote power system leads VoltServer to find real estate management companies that are solving their building-owner clients’ indoor wireless coverage problems from the top down, Lowe said. “We didn’t go out to a thousand people and have a thousand conversations,” he said. “We tried to pick people who were trying to innovate or trying to solve a problem, and made sure we really listened. Then, we adjusted our product and our go-to-market approach based on the problems they said they had.”
Lowe said he started with a building owner with many properties. He said the owner acknowledged that installing traditional electrical wiring and powering systems throughout the building was a problem. But the owner said he would not make the decision whether to use the packet energy transfer system. “He told me ExteNet Systems would make that decision, and that’s how Davis and I were introduced to one another,” Lowe said. “We started from the top down, even though our power starts from the bottom up in the solution.”
The value that the packet energy transfer system represents has appeal for four groups: real estate companies, wireless carriers, in-building wireless system providers and equipment manufacturers, Lowe said. “We have to make T-Mobile US, AT&T Mobility or Verizon Wireless happy for ExteNet Systems to put us in, and then we better know how to work all of the equipment that needs to go in,” he said.
“It’s an iterative process, but that’s how we market remote power,” Lowe said. “We just try to get meetings. We try to get into one-day conferences that are educating CTO and CIO levels in the real-estate investment trust and in the IT that have multinational or multi-office needs.”
Lowe said VoltServer helps its customers improve speed to market and speed to install, together with a lower cost of entry, but with some future-proofing so they can add revenue-generating services and services that improve retention of their customers.
Don Bishop is the executive editor of AGL Magazine. He joined AGL Media Group in 2004. He was the founding editor of AGL Magazine, the AGL Bulletin email newsletter (now AGL eDigest) and AGL Small Cell Magazine.
A frequent moderator and host for AGL Conferences, Don writes and otherwise obtains editorial content published in AGL Magazine, AGL eDigest and the AGL Media Group website.