Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2015

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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MARCH/APRIL 2015 | | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | 75 of ARQ, about his experiences with indoor wireless deployments and his thoughts about where the technology is heading. Following are highlights from that conversation. BroadBand Communities: What kinds of projects is ARQ working on? Kunal Hinduja: We have a range of projects in major metropolitan areas across the country, including stadiums, convention centers, casinos, resorts, high-rise buildings, corporate campuses, malls, hospitals and universities. BBC: How do you decide which wireless technology to use in each project? KH: In a larger complex, we'll more than likely build a distributed antenna system (DAS), which can cover a large area and handle the trafc of many residents. In small commercial projects, we often use small cells. Tese aren't like femtocells, which are just for your phone in your home. Tey are commercial small-cell systems. BBC: A femtocell supports only one cellular network. Do commercial small cells work the same way, or do they support multiple carriers? KH: Tey're designed only for one carrier, but whenever users walk into a building, their phones will automatically register and they'll be able to use the network. So far, only single-carrier small cells have been released to the market. Tere's no neutral-host system yet. BBC: What's the trade-of between DAS and small-cell systems? KH: It's mostly a capacity issue. Small cells have hardware-based limits on concurrent users, and DAS doesn't, so a small-cell system will reach capacity quickly and stall out. Small cells, in many cases, are less expensive. BBC: How future proof are these systems? KH: Tere's a certain amount of future proofng, more for DAS than for small cell. Small cell has a life cycle, and once the technology reaches its limitations, it will more than likely be swapped out for newer equipment of the same type. With DAS, we plan for two to three years from a hardware standpoint; the fber capacity stretches fve to 10 years. Multifamily housing would likely use smaller DAS. With larger DAS, for stadiums and similar venues, we plan for more capacity growth. BBC: What deployment challenges do you encounter? KH: Aesthetics is a major challenge. Building owners want the hardware to be hidden and blend in with the structure. Tere have been some very good developments in the design of antennas and small cells that can be placed in strategic locations that work for coverage and capacity and still be aesthetically pleasing. For example, Galtronics has an antenna that looks like a very thin Frisbee disc. Put up against tile, it looks clean and nice, and it has quite a bit of capacity and coverage. Construction type and building age can pose challenges in pulling fber, Ethernet cable and coax cable. Tey'll take only so much curvature. Another issue is that LEED- compliant windows don't allow radio frequency waves to pass through. In one way, that's good because we can create an isolation point between the indoor and outdoor networks. During the design phase, we take the foor plans, map out antenna locations and create a radio frequency propagation model. Tat makes life easy – there's no bleed-over, and a phone won't interfere with the outside network. However, it may be difcult to walk in and out on the frst foor [and transfer the call between the indoor and outdoor networks]. One of the biggest challenges is that running last-mile fber to all these properties for DAS is costly and time-consuming. Even if there is already fber to the building for Internet service, there may not be enough capacity on it, and we may not be allowed to tap into it. Sometimes we can use it, and sometimes we can't. Tere are solutions – and they've probably been deployed – where the last mile is wireless. BBC: What's driving property owners to purchase indoor wireless systems? KH: Some of them say their customers are complaining when they don't have service, and they're blaming the building. Property owners don't want negativity attached to their buildings, so they've been running to the carriers, or to us directly, to improve service. BBC: Does it matter whether the carrier or the property owner owns the system? KH: It's the same network, but who owns the rights becomes a political or legal issue at the beginning of each project. Tat doesn't apply so much in residential buildings, but hospitals want to build and own their networks and allow carriers to connect their base stations to it. Another issue is that the capital costs can be large, so a property owner may want to ofoad these costs to the carrier or to a neutral host. Or they may want a revenue- sharing model. It's very much a custom case per building. v Small cells have limits on the number of concurrent users, and DAS doesn't – but DAS tends to be more expensive.

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