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eMagazine Covers Public Safety In-building Wireless Challenge

ImperativeThe In-building Wireless and Public Safety Imperative is an eMagazine recently published by SOLiD and Hutton that describes the need for in-building wireless public-safety networks and the steps necessary for their widespread deployment. The publication, which was created for public-safety professionals, building and property owners, and the in-building wireless integration industry, looks at in-building wireless through eyes of fire and police chiefs, association leaders, a journalist, and solution providers and integrators.

The Public Safety “Imperative” is also a call to arms for safer in-building environments for the public and the first responders, according to Mike Collado, SOLiD’s vice president, marketing.

“To meet the challenges of the imperative, the stakeholders must implement fire and building codes and standards for indoor public safety communications; develop and innovate a toolkit of robust wireless communication technology and networks; and identify business models to overcome the burdens of complying with an unfunded mandate,” Collado said in a blog post. “To be sure, the imperative is shared by the public safety, commercial wireless and venue owner ecosystems. It’s time we move the imperative forward.” eMagazine Download

Enterprise Segment Requires New DAS Approach

By J. Sharpe Smith —

June 25, 2015 — Enterprises that are neither marquee event venues nor small businesses have special needs when it comes to technology and business cases. SOLiD’s Mike Collado refers to these venues, which range from 100,000 to 500,000 square feet, as the “middleprise” segment.

Mike Collado“It’s a large and underserved in-building market that represents millions of square feet requiring coverage and capacity and includes hotels, hospitals, class A office space, high rises and retail space,” Collado told AGL Small Cell Link in a phone interview. “Increasingly, coverage and capacity in the middleprise are being viewed as a competitive differentiator, and the stakeholders are exploring their options.”

During the DAS & Small Cell Congress in June, Collado and SOLiD led a tour of the 122-year-old Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, citing it as an example of a middleprise. A discussion ensued about the market challenges and trends of the middleprise market segment. Among the speakers were Bob Johnson, Duke University; Earl Lum EJL Research; and Nazim Choudhury, iBwave; as well as Collado.

“It’s generally accepted that in a large enterprise the solution is DAS, and in a small buildings the solution is small cells. But the middleprise opportunity is complicated by multiple variables such as funding and ownership, design and compliance with public-safety mandates. Solving for the middleprise requires a toolkit approach,” Collado said.

In-building technology and business case models must change to meet this vast market opportunity, according to Collado.

“The current densification toolkit – DAS and small cells – doesn’t do a really good job of scaling down or scaling up to bring a cost-effective, multi-operator coverage solution for the middleprise,” Collado said.

Conventional technologies – both small cells and DAS — and business models are changing to address this market opportunity, according to Collado.

“A successful product for the middleprise market will need to offer lower total cost of ownership starting with price per square foot,” Collado said. “Additionally, it will need flexibility to support multiple operators and bands and have intelligence that makes it easy to deploy, commission, optimize, manage and monitor.”

When carriers and third-party owners look at the middleprise market they see a big opportunity. In fact, ABI Research states that less than 2 percent of this market has been penetrated, globally. However, the business case for funding this market segment is another complicating variable and will require the venue owner or stakeholder play a new and expanded role, Collado said.

“There is a catalyst opportunity where the venue owner is going to play a more significant role in funding and owning the in-building network,” he said. “They will do it if the price is right, it’s easy to deploy, and will scale. The carriers will also welcome a solution that is easy and less expensive for the carriers to connect to the core.”

Also at the DAS & Small Cell Congress, SOLiD launched a DAS product that possesses some of the qualities Collado mentioned as success keys for a DAS in a middleprise facility.

Designed to provide coverage and capacity at large venues including stadia and campuses as well as within the dense urban outdoor market, the Alliance 20-watt DAS solution reduces power consumption through new amplifier technology. It also possesses “green mode” intelligence which, based on the capacity used, enables the system to further reduce power consumption. Additionally, the DAS features a one-click, auto-commissioning software that reduces installation costs and simplifies system commissioning and optimization.

ABI Research Highlights Next Generation of DAS Market Drivers

ABI Research has recognized several vendors for their product and market offerings in recently published research on the driving forces within the DAS manufacturing community.

While Corning MobileAccess, TE Connectivity, and Andrew Commscope dominate the marketplace, ABI Research has identified Axell Wireless, Solid Technologies, Optiway, Alvarion, Zinwave and Powerwave as the foundation of the next phase of market development.

“Amongst these vendors, Axell Wireless is possibly the furthest along collectively in terms of operator acceptance and product innovation,” Aditya Kaul, ABI analyst, wrote. “Their new broadband DAS solution combined with their considerable presence in public safety gives them an edge over their competition and is closing in on the top three.”

Along with Axell Wireless, ABI called Solid Technologies a vendor to “watch out for” in the North America space. The research firm also noted that Powerwave is staying in the game with new LTE picocell and low-power DAS products. Highlighted for work in the wideband, multiservice DAS space was Zinwave, Optiway and Alvarion.

Ian Brown, CEO, Axell Wireless, told DAS Bulletin, that the recognition from ABI is a product of the company’s experience and its involvement in several high profile in-building installations, including the [English] Channel Tunnel,  Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, the Pentagon, the Royal Palaces in Oman and  the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Most recently, a network at the 2012 Olympics in London was deployed by Axell Wireless where there were more than 400 base stations feeding several DAS systems.

“We have a long history in DAS. We have been involved in fiber optic technology for some 25 years,” Brown said. “Initially we focused on the public safety market where we have a market-leading presence around the world. There is probably not one major national public safety network that we haven’t had some involvement in. We have been fortunate enough to win projects to deploy public safety coverage into many of the world’s leading iconic buildings.”

During the last five or six years, Axell Wireless has broadened its focus to include cellular in-building market, in addition to public safety.

“We recognized there is a huge job to be done there [in cellular],” Brown said. “You have heard the statistic that 80 percent of mobile traffic is initiated within buildings. Data applications don’t work too well with one bar of signal strength.”

The majority of Axell’s customers in North America deploy a public safety system separately from the cellular DAS, but Brown believes the tide is changing toward converged public safety/cellular DAS systems, because of new building codes and the economics of deploying wireless. Axell Wireless’ Heathrow Airport deployment is an integrated public safety/cellular system.

“I do think it is changing. It has already changed quite rapidly in parts of Europe,” he said. “One of the drivers is cost. One DAS system with one headend that can support multiple remotes over the same fiber, you save a lot of money.”

The in-building wireless market has a lot of potential with surveys showing no more than 25 percent of public buildings with wireless. Beyond smart phones, Brown sees plenty of machine-to-machine wireless opportunities in verticals, such as healthcare.

“Patients can be sent home the same day as their surgery, wearing wireless monitors so the nurses can keep an eye on them,” Brown said. “There a tons of applications for wireless.”

Solid Technologies, Comba Grab Subway DAS projects

Solid Technologies’ Alliance neutral-host system has been selected by Transit Wireless to support a DAS being designed to provide wireless coverage and capacity throughout the New York City Subway System including underground stations, mezzanines and corridors.

The multi-year project includes 277 stations, 30 of which are scheduled to go live by the end of 2012. The New York City Subway is the largest and oldest rapid transit rail system in the nation. The scale of the system plus the harsh, subterranean environment makes the project uniquely challenging.

“The RFP process was long and detail oriented. It started with general pricing and solution modeling based upon Solid’s DAS and optical distribution products and included everything from gear specifications and certifications to pricing and delivery commitments,” Seth Buechley, Solid Technologies president, told DAS Bulletin. “It then evolved into derivatives of our Alliance multi-service DAS platform.”

Solid’s technology was also used in the Seoul Metro subway system, and Buechley said that experience was instrumental in securing the NYC contract. “We demonstrated success having deployed a DAS at the Seoul Metro and the ability for quick-turn around through our corporate R&D facility,” he said.

Transit Wireless CEO, William A. Bayne agreed, “Solid’s extensive subway experience in Korea and ability to rapidly customize products and applications make the company ideally-suited to support our mission to enable state-of-the-art wireless coverage to all underground subway stations in New York City.”

Another subway contract has been awarded this month to Comba Telecom Systems by the Bangkok Metro Public Company Limited (BMCL) to provide an end-to-end neutral-host wireless solution to enable 2G and 3G voice and data communications throughout the underground railway network, which serves over 240,000 passengers daily and comprises 18 stations, concourses, tunnels, platforms, and retail stores within the concourses.

Comba Telecom will replace the existing 2G system with a multi-system (2G/3G) active DAS, which includes the DAS repeaters, antennas, passive equipment, cabling and services such as RF design, installation, optimization and maintenance.

Eric Ng, general manager of Southeast Asia for Comba Telecom said, “The modular nature of our DAS solution means that BMCL will be equipped with a scalable system which can be expanded to integrate future requirements such as 4G technologies or new subway lines.”

In-Building DAS Will Share the Stage with Small Cells: ABI Research

In mobile ecosystems where DAS has reigned supreme for coverage fill-in and capacity growth, small cell equipment sales are expected to catch up quickly to DAS and disrupt that dominance. The two technologies, however, are more likely to complement each other rather compete, according to an ABI Research report entitled, “The Future of Active vs. Passive DAS, Repeaters, and Threat from Small Cells.”

While awareness of small cells is increasing, most DAS vendors don’t really see small cells as a threat today. But they are resigned to the fact that small cells are here to stay, said Aditya Kaul, practice director, mobile networks at ABI Research.

Currently, the enterprise small cell equipment market is roughly one-third of the DAS, but by 2016, the two are both projected to even. The ABI Research believes that DAS and small cells will inhabit different market niches for the most part. DAS will be deployed in large and medium-sized public buildings, mostly more than 150,000 square feet, while enterprise small cells will see most of their deployments in smaller buildings below 100,000 square feet, according to the report.

“While enterprise small cells are mostly going to sit separate from DAS in two non-overlapping building segments, the trend of public access small cells that are targeted at public spaces like airports, shopping malls, hotels and even stadiums could see some revenue moving away from DAS,” Kaul said.

Small cell’s biggest impact on DAS may be in a support role. ABI Research estimates that one-fourth of distributed antenna systems will eventually be fed by small cells, because they are smaller, cheaper and easier to install than macro sites, repeaters and remote radio heads.

“Most likely we will see an intersection of the two technologies where DAS is fed by small cells especially in medium sized buildings,” Kaul said.

Seth Buechley, president, SOLiD Technologies, told DAS Bulletin that it will be a long time before small cells are going to begin to affect DAS.

“I think we will see DAS continue to grow,” Buechley said. “Eventually, some of that growth will be offset by the introduction of small cell architecture, but we are a long ways from the point where small cells are going to meaningfully impact DAS. There must first be standardization of the ecosystem. Additionally, the wireless industry must define the term “small cell,” as to whether it is an architecture, a product or a complete network, he added.

ABI Research also compared the market for active DAS with passive DAS. Active DAS is expected to make up half of the $2 billion global market for in-building wireless equipment in 2013. The other half of the market includes passive DAS, repeaters, cabling and antennas.

“While active DAS is where the action is, traditional passive DAS and repeaters will continue to see demand, especially in Asia Pacific and some parts of Europe because of their cost-effectiveness and operator familiarity,” Kaul said.

The active DAS equipment market is growing at a 20 percent annual rate in North America, well above the passive DAS equipment revenue growth rate of 6 percent, according to ABI Research statistics.