From the network architecture point of view, Verizon’s proposed $4.4 billion purchase of AOL Network will add to the business case for network densification and increase the need for intelligence at the edge of the network, feeding the ability to target content and marketing to the user, Tormod Larsen, chief technology officer, ExteNet Systems, told AGL Media Group in a phone interview.
“With the acquisition of AOL by Verizon, we see the value in content delivery and the service application layer providing revenue beyond the more traditional subscriber model,” Larsen said. “With content-rich applications, we anticipate a direct correlation between the delivery of the content and increased revenue.”
As content-rich applications become more critical to revenue, the ability of the network to handle high-quality content will be critical. Densification will increase the network’s capability to provide that high-value content.
“You might even see the carriers driving the network into areas to provide service based on where it is more valuable to provide that content. It is not always the content; it is also the Big Data,” Larsen said.
Content-driven Delivery Ups the Wireless Ante
Before cellular systems were voice-centric, carriers were inclined to build the same network everywhere, but now with data-centric service, and even more so with content-driven delivery, heterogeneous networks have come to the fore. The wireless infrastructure industry has moved from coverage networks to capacity-driven networks; now the goal is smart-capacity networks.
“What we see evolving is the concept of small networks within the big networks — basically an architecture of networks within networks. For example, a stadium network has different functionality and it is is more independent of the macro environment because it is its own ecosystem,” Larsen said.
Content delivery will be tailored based on the location, whether it is a stadium, a hospital or a hotel. The content can be targeted to specific audiences at specific times, based on how the network is architected. For network infrastructure providers, it is an opportunity to provide more infrastructure because there will be more demand for network capability, especially when a carrier wants granular Big Data analytics.
“What the user expects from a network in a stadium is different from what he or she expects the network to do along the highway,” Larsen said. “With Verizon’s purchase of AOL’s platforms, the carrier can know exactly which subscriber is sitting in which seat and what their habits are, thus allowing targeted content delivery and advertisements.” Additionally, advertising and content can follow the user from the stadium to a hotel room.
Pushing Intelligence to the Network Edge Gives the Carrier an Edge
Network coverage is currently the differentiator, and each carrier has its signature coverage map. But soon those networks will be built out with LTE and the map discussion will become a moot point from a marketing standpoint. So carriers are looking to content delivery for the advantage that will allow them to shine compared with their competition.
Verizon is not alone in its foray into content. AT&T plans to leverage its relationships with automakers to offer advertiser-supported or paid content exclusively for connected car users, according to Reuters. Connected car users will see content, such as videos and games, that can be streamed onto personal mobile devices later this year.
“When you talk about the carriers, currently, you talk about the network, but when you talk about Google, you talk about the subscribers and service, not the network. Even though they have one of the most complex networks,” Larsen said. “More and more carriers are moving into the service and applications. The network will not be the differentiator going forward. The differentiator will be the service and applications that the network enables.”
The play for a distributed network provider like ExteNet is to provide the carrier with a network within the larger network, where the intelligence resides at the edge of the network, not in a datacenter states away.
“It’s about being smarter about how you route your traffic in the network based on location, who the user is, the type of content and the event,” Larsen said. “The carriers may need some partners that are more nimble to help them adjust the network in a venue for a special event. We will need to be able to support that dynamic behavior.”
Commscope has removed the complexity out of integrating a DAS into a macro wireless network by upgrading its unified indoor-outdoor, low- and high-power single master unit ION platform. The upgrade reduces space requirements and the number of cable runs while maximizing design flexibility into a simple-to-use plug-and-play solution. The platform features integrated guidance and intelligence, enabling wireless network operators to design, plan, deploy and optimize a DAS more quickly and efficiently and at a lower total cost of ownership. The platform contains built-in intelligence that greatly simplifies installation. The embedded intelligence intuitively guides the design, planning, installation, set up, commissioning and optimization with virtually foolproof simplicity. The remote configuration tools enable operators to re-sectorize and access auto-leveling functions from anywhere in the world or right at the head end, and the built-in monitoring measures network quality and monitors interference and passive intermodulation (PIM). It also conducts detailed uplink/downlink spectrum analysis. www.commscope.com
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Since the birth of the iPhone in 2005 and the resulting wireless data demand, in-building wireless (IBW) systems have gone from curiosity to luxury to amenity and, finally, to utility status. Most recently, IBW communications —DAS, public safety and Wi-Fi — have crossed the chasm from being seen as a technology to being accepted as an intelligent building solution, RF Connect marketing executive Bob Butchko told DAS Bulletin.
“Today, the commercial real estate industry recognizes that having a positive in-building smartphone or tablet experience is critical to tenant acquisition and retention,” Butchko said. “It is commonly accepted that most commercial, residential or office buildings need, or will need, some form of in-building wireless enhancement if only for satisfying government-mandated public safety radio regulations.”
But that success has led to its own challenge: Who is going to pay for this solution?
As DAS moves from amenity to utility, building owners must figure out how to deploy and pay for wireless within their buildings. Carriers, which deploy DAS in hundreds of public venues and for thousands of their major accounts, are not much interested in the 1.2 million or so commercial buildings, most of which are not strategic to their business plans. Tower companies work on the same ethic; if the carriers don’t see a site as strategic, the tower companies won’t build there.
The only option left for most building owners, unless their building has a very high profile, is to purchase and deploy the IBW systems, which sets up a new dynamic. Building owners who are not knowledgeable about DAS are pressed into the position of project managing a wireless deployment, interfacing with carriers, the building tenants, municipality, general contractors, system integrators, OEM manufacturers, financial/legal experts and consultants. Butchko points out that just negotiating with the carriers is fraught with complications.
“[You need to] go to the carriers and find out if the building is strategic or not. What would they be willing to do? Would they provide a base station? Would they want to put antennas on the roof?” Butchko said. “What are their restrictions? Any DAS plan must be cleared by the carriers.” He recalls a DAS that was built at a hospital, and the carrier came by and told them they couldn’t do it.
To assist building owners in deploying an indoor wireless system, at RealComm IBcon 2013 on June 12, RF Connect launched a new service, known as the RFC Connection, which elevates RF Connect from the status of mere integrator to business partner and consultant for the building owner.
“Instead of skinnying down the bid to beat the competition, we will be trying to put the wireless systems that are really needed in the building for the lowest cost and best results over the long term for the client,” Butchko said.
The RFC Connection offers an end-to-end integrated package of services, where it assesses, designs, implements and provides long-term support for the wireless systems, as well as serving the building owner as a partner and advocate.
“The industry needs a new approach where a third party looks out for the building owners’ interests,” said Butchko. “Effectively, the burden of providing and supporting cellular coverage, Wi-Fi and all in-building wireless capabilities is contractually outsourced to RF Connect. All this adds up to a much better outcome for the owner.”
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