EDITORS’ NOTE — This is one is a one in an occasional series where AGL eDigest is chronically how the OEMs are approaching the burgeoning enterprise market with DAS and Small Cells.
DAS has been deemed too expensive for the enterprise space, which has led to a great amount of buzz surrounding small cells with their simplicity of deployment using cutting edge self optimizing network technology. Many of the DAS deployments we hear about harness macrocellular power to serve 10s of thousands of game day fans in massive arenas and stadiums, as well as acres of parking lots.
Those systems are simply not designed to serve most enterprises, while small cells seem to be a better match for enterprises. JMA Wireless is defying this perception by tailoring its DAS technology to make it simpler and more economical to fit the needs of businesses and office buildings.
JMA’s Teko E-DAS (enterprise DAS) is designed with a low-power interface option enabling it to combine one or more enterprise-oriented femto or micro cell devices. These devices provide suitable capacity (active LTE users) and when used with the Teko DAS, the enterprise can centralize everything and provide multiple operator solutions over a single infrastructure. One of the real drivers behind JMA’s E-DAS approach is the hurdle to get a more traditional BTS hotel deployed on enterprise premises, which is very high.
“You have to go to the carrier, get them to approve the budget dollars to do the site acquisition, purchase and deploy the BTS equipment,” said Todd Landry, corporate vice president of product and market strategy at JMA. “It’s costly and logistics around it are fairly painful.” And besides, he notes, the typical enterprise doesn’t need that scale of equipment.
Samsung’s eFemto, which is used by Verizon and Nokia/Alcatel Lucent’s microcell, which is used by AT&T, offer plenty of capacity, serving 48 and 128 active users, respectively. They have low RF power output at around 250 milliwatts, which can feed directly into the Teko E-DAS interface. Because the solution is modular you can scale up to cover the number of active users at the enterprise and you can combine the different mobile operators and bands you need.
JMA’s E-DAS webinars and roadshows illustrate how to calculate capacity needs for an enterprise by using building occupancy loading specified by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency). You can adjust based on surveys within a given building to provide appropriate coverage and capacity for different mobile user communities. The JMA targets for this solution range from a 50,000 square foot building up to one million square foot buildings, where for example as few as a couple femto cells up to as many as 18 can be combined to create a solution for a building.
“Because you can rack them and stack them and use just what you need, you have plenty of flexibility. Enterprises only have a certain number of active users anyway. Why oversubscribe it?” Landry said. “The beauty is you can order these things and deploy them fairly easily, if you are an integrator or a neutral host.”
Backhaul Over Existing Internet
Unlike the traditional BTS approach using a separate terrestrial WAN circuit for backhaul, femtos and microcells typically use the Internet to securely connect back into the carrier’s network. The IT department can easily allocate a certain number of megabytes to ensure adequate performance over the existing Internet connection. Moreover, the solution does not require the use of dark fiber connections like that of a CRAN approach, where metro dark fiber leases can cost as high as $2,000 per month – significantly reducing the operation costs to deliver a solution.
“The E-DAS approach opens a new market for ISPs that currently deliver backhaul Internet to thousands of buildings,” Landry said. “Operators and Neutral Hosts can leverage these ISP networks to deliver high quality IP backhaul over an existing network more quickly and at significantly lower costs.”
The ‘New’ DAS Versus Small Cells
Landry said the hype surrounding small cells has been a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison. Price comparisons for example have not included all the equipment needed for small cell deployments and DAS price references are often over played.
“Small cells are a good solution for the right problem, but there are many landmines not obvious in much of the marketing,” he said. “For example, typically separate cables must be pulled, devices need POE-based power, the weight of some radios requires support cables above the ceiling, and you have to deploy hundreds of them for multiple operators, often all different styles from different vendors.”
In probably the biggest difference, small cells are one or two bands and single carrier. JMA Wireless’ Teko E-DAS is a single infrastructure that can support all carriers and all bands, typical of what an enterprise needs. More importantly, when compared apples-to-apples the JMA Wireless E-DAS prices out at below 40 cents per square foot versus small cell solutions that range from 60 cents to more than $1 per square foot based on a single carrier solution. In a two-carrier scenario the JMA E-DAS system increased by some 10-15 percent while the small cell scenario all double the cost, and its goes up significantly for each carrier, according to JMA Wireless’ statistics.
“The flexibility of our approach allows the enterprise to include multiple carriers into the facility over a common infrastructure, whereas traditional small cell approaches are dedicated to a single carrier, which makes a big difference from the cost standpoint,” Landry said.