We have been talking a lot about 5G and how the networks going to look. I brought up some 5G business cases in a post that are feasible for more than the carriers and I am working on many more. What about the enterprise and the building owners, how will they benefit? What about the smaller building owners, how will they benefit? How will we get the enterprise to have a carrier-grade wireless network? How can we deploy in small venues where carriers think installing small cells and DAS is too expensive? How can the enterprise and building owners benefit? I think I have a plan, let’s talk it through.
As you know the carriers are getting stingy when it comes to small cell and DAS deployments for anything smaller than a 30,000 seat stadium. So where does that leave enterprise and the smaller building owners? Don’t discount yourselves! You have more power than they know. You have the key to letting them into your building or office or even using them as a carrier. Let’s go over how the changes in availability of carrier grade equipment will make all of this possible for all of you in the enterprise IT departments. You have to make an investment, but it may not be too expensive.
Keep this in mind, the carriers fought to make LTE a commodity. They have pushed LTE-U and it opens up opportunity to you, it can give you control of what’s in your building. The upcoming CBRS, 3.65Ghz, will open new doors because of its lightly licensed availability for small cell deployments. Let’s see how.
Now this takes a change in mindset for wireless usage in the enterprise and buildings, so please, be open-minded!
Let’s think about what having your own carrier-grade wireless system can do for your business. For starters you can isolate you network and control who roams onto it. Coverage and security will be pretty awesome because you control both. You can control who roams onto your indoor network, so you choose which carriers you will allow to roam onto your network. You can have the carriers tie into your network to complete handoffs from their core to yours. How cool is that? I bet you wonder how this will happen. I’ll go over it below. Take control of your network and only share with the carriers that will work with you.
The equipment will be available to everyone, not just the carriers. While the bigger OEMs like Ericsson and Nokia will have this equipment, there will be many companies making this equipment more affordable. Look at Wi-Fi, the hardware prices came way down when companies like Ubiquity made it very inexpensive. Router prices came down. Server prices came down. You will have the opportunity to get this equipment within your budget. Also, you will have a say on who can enter your building or office space in your wireless domain. This gives you power to choose what carriers you want in your office space. Maybe you don’t want any and you want your devices to roam onto your secure network in your office. Well, here you go. Public safety is going to set this up in their models this way so why can’t you? Make your network safe and secure to control who roams onto it.
There are several wireless spectrum choices in place to help you move ahead with this concept. Follow along.
- LTE-U, which is LTE in unlicensed spectrum will be available soon. This will be just like your current Wi-Fi network which you probably already use. The good thing is that it will offer an easy way to handoff from the carrier to your cell. So your smartphone will offer features that seamlessly roll from your carrier to your network. Wi-Fi does almost all of this but LTE makes the handoff smoother. The downside is that it is unlicensed so if you have a lot of Wi-Fi hotspots and LTE-U hotspots then you will have bandwidth issues due to interference.
- LTE in the 3.65GHz range is lightly licensed and made for indoor small cells. This equipment will be available to anyone soon so all you need to do is apply for the license online, which is going to be really easy, then you can light up a licensed network in your building or office. The upside is that its licensed so interference will not be an issue. The downside is that it takes more effort up front but once you set it up, it’s done until the license needs renewed.
- Soon, the 5G spectrum will be available in lightly licensed or license-free bands. Think of this as a new opportunity. You will see be high bandwidth on large swaths of spectrum. When the carriers stop paying for indoor coverage you have the opportunity to allow only the carrier you want to use in your domain. They could have a dead spot in your building, but as long as your carrier of choice has coverage, who cares? Seriously, it’s not your responsibility to provide them coverage. You should not be force to let them in.
How can you improve throughput?
- Carrier aggregation allows for all LTE bands to work together. This is something that we expect small cells to have very soon, so it will look like you have the bandwidth of both LTE-U and 3.65GHz LTE all in one. WOW! The downside is that you need an OEM small cell that supports this technology. You also need to build out small cells on both bands to make it work.
- The 5G mmwave spectrum will have huge spectrum channels available for you to use in your building. Think about that! The potential is there for you to use something clean and massive in your own space!
What about the core?
- The core is something you install yourself and have running like your servers in the data room. Of course, there is more to it than that but someone can help you figure it out. Several companies make smaller cores that you can use to anchor your LTE system and tie it into the carrier’s core. There is also MulteFire, the QUALCOMM format that allows you to have your own LTE service, unanchored if you wish. MulteFire gives LTE the ease of use and connectivity like Wi-Fi. I am not sure but it make invoke some security issues that you also have with Wi-Fi.
- Security will be very tight on your licensed spectrum with the core to control who is in and who is not allowed on the network. It is up to you to make sure that your network is secure.
And then what?
- Suddenly you have new IOT options and equipment that was only available to the carriers. Features that could really help you track people and equipment in the building. Wi-Fi has options like this as well, but now we’re taking it to a carrier grade level.
- Offer your system as an extension to the carrier of your choice. Since they won’t pay for coverage in your office or building, contact them and see how they will roam onto your network. It may be mutually beneficial for them to use your network. I don’t know how billing may work but this may be a way for the carrier to improve their coverage and for you to extend the coverage of all of your company’s devices.
So what do you do next?
- Choose your OEM, preferably one that will have a core product that will connect to a carrier’s network if possible. You can search for either LTE in a box or small LTE system or something like that.
What can you do with your network? Take it to the next level. If you don’t see anything past Wi-Fi, then why spend the money? If you do see potential in having all of the devices connected to a carrier-grade network, then use it to connect the devices that currently are only capable of working on the carrier network. The potential is there for LTE to change your life and make your wireless network go to the next level by offering apps specific to your location. Wi-Fi has this capability now in NFL stadiums, so why can’t you do it in your building? Think about the work specific applications you can offer your employees on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Maybe you have people that come into your work area from other regions that would need access to these apps? Now you have a quick solution to providing them with quick and seamless coverage in your work space.
What about IOT? Track and control your equipment within the smart building. Monitor and track all of your equipment in the building. You could not only monitor all the things you have now, like your servers and alarms, but a building owner could monitor pressure gauges or door alarms or heating and cooling sensors. Control of these things is also possible. These are all things that you may want to connect to your device. You may already have this. You could also track your people inside the building. While all of this sounds cool, most of it can be done today and you could lay the foundation on your network, but the connections could go farther.
Now, think of the next generation of what you plant to do within your office? Do you plan to work with virtual reality, (VR)? Do you plan to use heavier and heavier data for specific applications? Then you could see where you could dedicate spectrum just for an application like that. You could run it anywhere in your office space wirelessly. You could stop running cables to every workstation in the office and you could move from the laptop to the tablet if you haven’t already. Think of the potential you would have with dedicated spectrum tied into your unlicensed spectrum.
Who controls your office wireless space?
Think about how you control your domain! You will be the master of your domain, in a wireless sense anyway. You don’t need to beg the carriers to come in, instead, you can control who enters your domain. You can keep them out. You control it and if you want it secure then you don’t need to let anyone in. Let’s change the paradigm here to one where you have complete control of your wireless network.