A wave of DAS systems for in-building use is making a splash at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, this week, as the wireless industry continues to try to break into the enterprise space. The new products feature all-digital technology and 100-percent fiber optics, as well as virtualization and centralized RANs. The products are also smaller and use less electricity.
Among the OEMs showing off new products are CommScope with its Era all-digital C-RAN antenna system, Zinwave with its UNItivity 5000 DAS solution and JMA Wireless with its XRAN fully-virtualized adaptive baseband software. Additionally, Cobham Wireless has integrated vRAN (virtualized radio access networks) capabilities into its idDAS (intelligent digital DAS).
OEMs are expanding their market from wireless users to include serve the internet of things and smart buildings applications, as well as public safety. But there are many impediments to DAS in the enterprise. One of them being price. The latest wave of DAS equipment is smaller and less expensive. According to Josh Adelson, marketing director, CommScope, DAS is following the same trends occurring in the outdoor wireless space.
“It’s about finding a way to deliver in-building wireless in a way that is consistent with the approach the operators are taking,” Adelson said. “The main technical step forward is allowing the signal source to be located in the operator’s C-RAN rather than in the building.”
DAS OEMs are also taking using virtualization to replicate the features of a proprietary base station in software that is run on a commercially available hardware platform.
CommScope Era is an all-digital C-RAN antenna system that leverages wireless operators’ initiatives to centralize and virtualize baseband radio assets. The centralized headend serves multiple buildings, as well as tapping capacity from existing C-RAN hubs.
“The C-RAN allows an operator to manage a pool of resources within its own facility and allocate them on a dynamic basis, as well as to easily maintain them,” Adelson said. “From the building owner’s point of view, not having the head-end within their facility allows them to lease out the space the headend would have inhabited.”
Era features a new family of access points that are available in a range of power levels, with copper and fiber connectivity and outdoor and plenum ratings, to serve a wide variety of venue types. It supports interleaved MIMO (multiple input/multiple output).
For more information on the Era, CLICK HERE
Zinwave has enhanced the energy efficiency of the UNItivity solutions’ hardware. Depending on the scope and complexity of the DAS configuration, an enterprise may see up to 17 percent energy savings.
Another update to UNItivity 5000 is the redesign of the secondary hub that adds 80 percent space savings in the IT closet. The streamlined design also integrates the power supply unit into the hub itself, which aids IT staff in procuring an external power supply while providing additional space savings.
“We are driving toward simplicity, improving aesthetics, lower total cost of ownership,” said Slavko Djukic, Zinwave Chief Technology Officer. “When you look at the total cost of ownership model including power usage and space usage, we believe we have made some significant improvements.”
For more information about the UNItivity 5000, CLICK HERE
JMA Wireless has virtualized 100 percent of its RAN with software with the XRAN Adaptive Baseband, which provides all of the RAN functions necessary for LTE mobile and IoT connectivity.
“Full virtualization of the entire stack has been elusive due to the complexity of the technology,” said Joe Madden, president of Mobile Experts. “XRAN has delivered full virtualization and gives operators a more flexible, low-cost platform they can control. This opens the door for MNOs and enterprises – providing an opportunity for enterprises to invest in solutions to provide coverage for their venues.”
The XRAN software platform integrates with the TEKO RF Distribution platform via high capacity digital fiber connectivity, eliminating layers of analog equipment and cabling and reducing the footprint, power and cooling requirements.
“Cost, simplicity, footprint, power, and cooling changes dramatically with XRAN,” said Todd Landry, VP of product and market strategy at JMA Wireless. “XRAN is designed from its inception to close the gap between rapidly growing in-building mobile connectivity demands and today’s complex, proprietary hardware solutions unable to evolve and adapt for multi-operator services.”
For more information about XRAN, CLICK HERE
Cobham Wireless as designed the next generation of the intelligent digital DAS (idDAS) with a direct connection to the network core and virtualized capabilities. The latest idDAS supports both C-RAN architectures and vRAN architectures, replacing baseband units with commercial off-the-shelf technology and virtualized software.
“Operators are facing a capacity challenge, and with more people using high-bandwidth services and the number of IoT applications growing, this will only increase,” said Rami Hasarchi, VP Coverage, Cobham Wireless. “Virtualising the RAN for in-building coverage offers the ideal solution to this problem, maximizing spectrum efficiency and end-user experience, while vastly reducing running costs.”
For more information about the idDAS CLICKE HERE
This fall, Cobham Wireless came together with a number of organizations, including local first responders, to provide Evanston Township High School with duel 4G LTE cellular and public safety communications in-building wireless systems, based on the OEM’s Intelligent Digital Distributed Antenna System (idDAS) product.
High schools are probably not the next high growth area for in-building wireless. Nevertheless, Evanston, which is the largest high school under one roof in the United States, gave Cobham the opportunity to do a good deed and show off its chops in solving in-building coverage problems. It also marks the British company’s first deployment of its idDAS in the United States.
“We were trying to find a good way to launch our digital DAS in North America, and the high school had some coverage issues,” Matt Thompson, VP sales Americas at Cobham Wireless. “We took the lead but also worked with other business partners that contributed either equipment or services so we could provide a free system for the school.”
To set the scene, Evanston Township High School, located in a suburb north of Chicago, occupies a building that was built in the mid-1920s. After a number of additions over the years, the structure now covers 1.2 million square feet. The student body has grown to more than 4,000 and the public safety staff now numbers 50.
There is an AT&T tower located at nearby football field, but the core building of the high school is shielded from the signal by the wings. Both public safety and cellular coverage needed to be improved so that the first responders could communicate in the building, and text messages informing people in the building of a lockdown situation could also be delivered to cell phones.
“Problems over the years with in-building radio coverage to support public safety emergency and first responders necessitated the need to investigate ways to increase coverage within the high school,” said Evanston Police Department Communication Coordinator, Perry Polinski.
Cobham Wireless worked with Radvisory 5G, as well as RFS, Galtronics, Graybar, Chicago Communications and Fullerton Engineering, to design and deploy the coverage system. All parties contributed equipment and services, with AT&T donating testing and engineering time and a five-year maintenance contract. In the end, the system was fully financed at no cost to the school.
“Improving cellular and public safety coverage in the ETHS building ensures that staff and students are able to communicate rapidly and reliably with Evanston’s police and fire departments in emergency situations, as well as providing a high quality of service to AT&T subscribers,” Thompson said.
Cobham deployed a digital DAS fiber/coax hybrid system, which takes the signal off the air, digitizes it and sends it to a CPRI router. The signal is then distributed to antennas located in the building.
“It is all about flexibility. Digital technology allows the sectors of the DAS to be increased without rewiring, Thompson said. “It can all be done through software with a click of the mouse. Operators also like digital DAS because of the ease of commissioning. It is all automatic, which means less labor during the deployment stage.”
The Public safety DAS and cellular DAS were kept separate to keep the costs down. The planning for each was done simultaneously and the labor was shared, which also kept costs down.
“People tend to build out these systems in a piecemeal fashion,” Thompson said. “But you really need to look at it all at the same time. You will save money, since the majority of your cost is the labor.”
Many public buildings – courthouses, city halls, State offices, capitol buildings — have the same coverage problems as ETHS. They are old brick and marble structures with byzantine hallways surrounded by added wings. And the safety of the public that visit these buildings is no less vital than young adults that attend the high school. It is this market, Thompson believes, that is ripe for a surge in DAS deployments.
It has been an uneasy dance. For many years, people have contemplated whether a single in-door network can, or should, handle both cellular users and public safety users. Some say the low-power cellular technology simply doesn’t mesh with high-power public safety portables, although others say the problem is not technological but legal. Carriers would not want to take legal responsibility for a system that fails to work for the first responder personnel.
One thing is clear. Many, if not most, of the future in-building wireless systems will be funded by enterprises, which already have responsibility for the lives of their tenants and will want to keep their overhead low.
Meanwhile, OEMs are moving forward with DAS technology that serves both the cellular and public safety agency communications. For example, Cobham Wireless’ digital distributed antenna solution (idDAS), which has already been used in large-scale cellular projects, will soon be available for legacy public safety communications.
“The key to penetrating enterprise is offering a long term DAS solution that can evolve with the networks. Building owners don’t want to have to rip and replace the system they use every three years. Cobham Wireless’ idDAS allows for this,” said John Giarolo who is Cobham Wireless’ VP of Coverage for the Americas.
The public safety idDAS was unveiled at Critical Communications World, Amsterdam, this week and will be made available worldwide in Q4 2016.
Things have changed over the years. Fear of terror attacks in public venues has increased. Cobham’s new system supports next generation public safety applications such as facial recognition technology, video and data transfer and site mapping, as well as providing dynamic capacity across areas for cellular communications.
“Bringing idDAS to the public safety communications market opens up a new world of opportunities for first responder agencies,” said Rami Hasarchi, vice president, coverage solutions, Cobham Wireless.
The ability to share capacity with nearby facilities as required means facilities managers and owners can significantly lower the OPEX costs associated with coverage enhancement systems.
“Providing additional bandwidth for first responder services enables the development of a raft of next generation emergency service communication technology, while minimizing the OPEX costs associated with high-bandwidth emergency service coverage provision,” Hasarchi said.
December 3, 2015 — When Axell Wireless (now Cobham Wireless) announced the development of intelligent digital DAS (idDAS) in February 2014, the target market was the distributed antenna system market. As idDAS continues to develop, an additional application has emerged for the technology: Cloud RAN, Matt Thompson, Cobham Wireless vice president of sales for the Americas, told AGL Link in a phone interview.
idDAS can route multi-operator cellular resources located in the cloud to the particular multi-operator remote radio units in a C-RAN architecture. It provides very flexible routing capability for the fronthaul from the BTS baseband units, used for centralized processing and capacity management, to the remote radio heads.
“You can take a component of our digital DAS system and deploy it as a separate infrastructure piece for C-RAN. It has been an interesting branch from what we originally set to develop. You can do some cool things with it. Carriers are very interested in that,” Thompson said.
The first deployment of Cobham Wireless’ idDAS is due to go live in Europe in the first week of December. Additionally, the idDAS platform is out in the field being beta tested around the world. Production-ready gear will be available in the United States by the end of the year.
“The headend for the first deployment will be 23 kilometers away from the remotes. It will truly be a C-RAN application,” Thompson said.
Cobham Wireless is meeting with a casino in the USA that wants to shift the capacity of its wireless system from the gaming tables to other areas, such as the convention hall and the hotel facilities to follow the flow of people.
“We provide an IP pipe,” he said. “We can backhaul anything you want: Wi-Fi, DAS and security cameras — whatever you want to plug in. We can share the same fiber strand and can save deployment costs.”
Cobham Wireless uses a patented CPRI router to move data packets around the system. A star architecture is employed sending the signal to any remote or multiple remotes from the central hub.
“Having a CPRI router is key to centralized RAN. There will be a role for our company in the C-RAN world,” Thompson said.
April 8, 2015 — Defense giant Cobham, which bought Axell Wireless in 2013 and Aeroflex in 2014, has brought the two companies together to form Cobham Wireless. The new company will be headed by Senior Vice President Ian Langley and will be integrated into Cobham’s Communications and Connectivity sector. Axell Wireless founder and CEO Ian Brown left the company last fall. We posed some questions to Langley to get an update.
AGL Small Cell Link: How does a close relationship with a test and measurement company positively impact your business? What are the synergies?
Langley: Cobham Wireless combines the expertise of Axell Wireless and the test and measurement division of Aeroflex to create new markets and opportunities for Axell’s DAS products. Both brands have complementary technologies and, by operating together, Cobham Wireless can provide a greater range of products to existing customers and increase the market potential of each product family.
AGL Small Cell Link: What will happen to the Axell Wireless name?
Langley: For the time being Axell Wireless will continue to operate under its own brand name, but will become fully integrated as part of Cobham Wireless in July 2015. Products will be rebranded as Cobham Wireless over the coming year, in line with the general rebranding strategy for both Axell and Aeroflex.
AGL Small Cell Link: It has been a year and a half since Cobham purchased Axell Wireless. How has their ownership changed your company? What doors is it opening for your operation?
Langley: The past 18 months have been focused on consolidating the strengths and portfolios of the companies which now make up Cobham Wireless. The integration has been positive and successful so far. Being part of the Cobham family provides both security and investment. Cobham’s proven ability to invest in customer support services, as well as in product R&D, will enhance customer confidence in Axell, allow Cobham Wireless to provide innovative new DAS products and increase market share.
AGL Small Cell Link: Are you selling your DAS to Cobham’s military customers? Does it increase your exposure to the public safety market? Or are there other new markets you are entering?
Langley: The acquisition of Axell Wireless and its DAS product portfolio adds a new dimension to Cobham’s offering, and opens the way to exciting new markets in both the commercial and public service sectors.
While there are no immediate plans to target the defense sector with DAS products, it is impossible to see into the future. At present, the key markets for Axell’s DAS product portfolio remain the same: commercial and public indoor spaces, including office and multipurpose complexes, stadia, airports, and public sector organizations that require cellular coverage and public safety provision.
Public safety coverage has always been one of the key use cases of DAS and Cobham Wireless will continue to focus on this sector to further enhance its already strong market position.
AGL Small Cell Link: It has been nine months since you introduced intelligent digital DAS. How has that been received? Can you tell me what are some of the deployments?
Langley: idDAS, the next generation, intelligent version of DAS, has been received well by customers thus far. The new technology enables the DAS product to react dynamically to network demands, saving operators time and money. idDAS also allows operators to channel coverage where it is needed most, improving overall customer satisfaction and driving sales.
Unfortunately, we are currently unable to discuss specific deployments.
AGL Small Cell Link: A lot of people see small cells competing with DAS for low-cost in-building systems. Are you thinking about developing a small cell system or is the answer making DAS less expensive? Or is there another evolutionary step for DAS?
Langley: DAS provides a very efficient solution for operators looking for cost-effective in-building systems. One of the key advantages of DAS is that the solution can be multi-operator, reducing the overall cost of indoor coverage provision, compared to small cells which are a single operator solution.
Operators can also experience significant OPEX and CAPEX savings by deploying intelligent DAS systems in multi-use venues. By redistributing capacity to where it is needed, rather than having to ‘hardwire’ coverage into every sector, the amount of money wasted providing underused capacity is vastly reduced.
idDAS operates with all current wireless technologies and is completely future proof.