Once again the FCC is working to improve broadband access in the USA. For that, I say thank you. This time they had a workshop to understand what DAS is and what small cells do. Hey, the FCC is busy trying to improve this wireless world for you!
If you missed it, don’t fret. All 6 hours and 57 minutes are on YouTube at https://youtu.be/UHtr5if7wzo to see what happened, trust me, it is easier to watch there than on the FCC website. If you are interested in the presentations that were at the workshop, go to https://www.fcc.gov/news-events/events/2016/05/distributed-antenna-systems-and-small-cell-workshop then scroll down to download the presentations. The FCC is really great at sharing information.
So what did we learn? We learned that this is a great way to promote your company. Sorry, but that’s what many people did However, I did learn a lot from this.
Distributed Antenna System, DAS, is mostly associate with indoor coverage. Although, there is outdoor DAS where they deploy radio heads like they would small cells.
Small cells are really small cellular BTS systems that offer a low power, small foot print unit that can be deployed indoors or outdoors.
This workshop was a showcase of studies showing how the DAS and small cell solutions can provide a multitude of solutions for public safety and carriers.
For public safety, DAS provides first responders with indoor coverage so that the communications are reliable for anyone entering a building in an emergency situation can remain in contact with their teams. In today’s world this is absolutely critical. The desired signal for first responders is above -95dB. This should allow fire rescue, police, and emergency responders to maintain RF coverage in all cases. The way this is done in today’s buildings is to put the antenna and signal boosters inside the building. Critical communications are not cheap, but they are necessary if you value life. DAS creates this reliability and level of safety.
The Wireless Deployment Handbook eBook that covers professional carrier end to end deployment of LTE small cells, CRAN, and DAS to show you the proper way to plan for deployment then execute without the mistakes.
I am shocked that most municipalities don’t have written requirement for this. When I look around some states have taken this seriously while others don’t’ want to be bothered. Even after a major incident happens, the government doesn’t seem to react soon enough. If they make the requirements then they know that building owners will put it in because an inspector, usually the local fire department, could go out and approve this. An example of the sprinkler system was brought up and how they are in every large building now. It was a great analogy.
Carrier coverage is different. We all rely on our smart phones in today world for work and convenience. However, the carriers are no longer going to pay for the indoor coverage unless they see a large payback. They will only do it for large customers. The carriers say that broadband is a utility. So the carriers should be regulated like utilities, right? Sorry, just a quick dig there.
So the carriers want to have the building owners and businesses pay for their own small cells and DAS systems. I am fine with that but they need to find a way for these units to be deployed inside building with their support, but the way it is now they want to control it. That may change soon with the deployment of LTE-U.
Qualcomm’s MulteFire was mentioned several times. It seems like this may be the way that small cell coverage for multi carrier requirements may be the wave of the near future. MulteFire is a LTE-U format where it can run LTE in unlicensed spectrum without the licensed support. Apparently many companies are relying on this to move ahead.
One more thing that was covered extensively is the stealth deployment to make the municipalities happy. For outdoor, or even indoor, antennas have to be hidden to make people feel safe and make the companies look good.
I brought up the note that broadband is becoming a utility and that people expect it. Yet it was brought up again and again how when new buildings go up, broadband is generally an afterthought, not in the original plans. I believe they should replace the telco rooms with data rooms and allow for wireless and fiber access to buildings at the same time they plan electric and water access.
This wasn’t just all about public safety and carrier class. Wi-Fi was also brought up several times. Broadband is part of our life. It is more than a convenience. If you don’t believe me, then tell me how many of you don’t have Wi-Fi in your homes? If I drive through my neighborhood I see so many Wi-Fi hotspots because everyone around me has a Wi-Fi router in their house! Do you?
I also noticed how many people talked about outdoor small cells. Stealth is a huge topic. Power access is another issue that came up again and again. These are all things that make small cells expensive to deploy.
The expense was brought up again and again. Remember that no matter what you deploy you need to worry about zoning and permitting, power, looks, and backhaul.
If this subject interests you, then look at what the FCC put together. This is a great opportunity to learn from what they did. It can be a workshop for all of us.