It’s hard to get a handle on how network operators are going to convince building operators to deploy in building coverage – will they suggest small cells, or will they suggest a DAS (Distributed Antenna System)? Mind you in some countries like South Korea, dominated by one operator, a network equipment manufacturer and a cooperative government small cells are kicking it, and are often provided at no cost by the operator.
Here in the US where we have a competitive market of network operators (some would argue, but it’s true) it’s a different story. First of all we have the operators leaving in building coverage to the building manager or owner. Secondly we have very few companies that have negotiated a plan for their employees. Finally, we have a no mandated strategies with the possible exception of rural coverage at the moment.
IMHO, the result is that we are better suited to DAS strategies where the signals for all the service providers are gathered and either boosted or backhauled to the appropriate macro networks.
Speaking with Don Henry of Comba Telecom we discussed the current trends in wireless coverage. Comba Telecom is an excellent company to ask about these topics since their products are all about wireless coverage including DAS and small cells. However, Don notes that Comba’s small cells products are only offered internationally. Comba North America’s team focuses on Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) and Fiber DAS solutions designed for public safety and commercial wireless in-building coverage.
Operators here in the North America primarily are concerned about the macro coverage and in-building coverage for large public spaces like, stadiums, airports and railways and in many cases will fund the in building coverage solution. But for a vast majority of large buildings, operators just do not have the funding to provide coverage for literally thousands upon thousands of buildings. Therefore if wireless coverage is wanted, the business owner must look to have a solution installed at their own expense. Small cells can provide a solution for the enterprise customer, but there are issues like band limitations and operator aggregation not to mention that a small cell solution for multiple operators will require multiple parallel systems (read that to mean a ceiling full of access points). A better solution is a DAS where multiple operators’ frequencies can be combined to design a more elegant solution for the business owner at an affordable price. Comba is well positioned with their DAS products to provide this solution to the enterprise customer.
Additionally on the public safety front, Comba is one of the leaders in providing solutions that ensure first responders can count on reliable in-building 2-way radio voice communications.
For new construction, building owners must adhere to building code. In most major markets around the country, part of building code is that first responders must be able to communicate over their 2-way radio network from within the building – this is enforced by the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). If successful communications is not possible, then the building owner must install a public safety in-building communications system known as an Emergency Responder Radio Coverage System (ERRCS).
Additionally, FirstNet™, a nationwide broadband public safety wireless network for delivering high speed data to first responders, will help save lives by adding preemptive broadband data services to the technology toolset that can be used by public safety. As First Responders continue to take advantage of the broadband capabilities of FirstNet, the apps are going to require better coverage, especially in-building coverage.
Whether we ever have a mandate in the US for in building coverage for FirstNet, which impacts the citizens as well as the first responders, we are probably still going to have a combination of solutions. Comba Telecom is well positioned to quickly provide solutions that will help first responders do their job – saving lives.