In-Building Wireless Experts Stress Flexibility in Access

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With 80 percent of wireless usage taking place indoors, real estate companies, building owners and landlords must find reliable, scalable and affordable in-building wireless solutions. What do in-building wireless connectivity experts say about the challenges, opportunities and future drivers associated with the delivery of anytime, anywhere access to wireless connectivity?  

At the In-Building Wireless Congress, held June 10-12, 2019, at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, 50+ industry thought leaders shared their perspectives on in-building wireless trends and technology advancements and their unique views on the economic, technical and practical considerations of network densification.  

Top of mind were funding models and technology options, along with the vast array of applications and use cases. Another theme was the evolution of 5G networks combined with the explosion of loT devices. Throughout the three-day event, many questions were raised, hype and realties uncovered and unique solutions offered as participants evaluated and advanced their wireless strategies.  

The congress provided a unique window into the connectivity world which is changing incredibly quickly, in multiple directions. We can see 5G, WiFi6, optical LANs, cloud RAN, neutral hosts, loT and evolving public safety needs all arriving at the same time, according to Dean Bubley, founder of Disruptive Analysis, in his opening remarks. He said some things are certain—we will need speed, lower latency, better coverage in all areas of buildings, and more manageability. But there are still unknowns. 

 “I think a big challenge is the organizational and operational aspects relating to deployment, integration, funding, staffing, whether we have enough people in place who understand the internet of things rather than human communications, for example,” Bubley said.  

He made a strong case for the vital role of flexibility in future in-building networks. “The future of wireless has a lot of opportunity, but it also has a lot of uncertainty. We need to have flexibility for our in-building wireless structure to deal with the unknowns around 5G in particular. What’s it going to be used for, when it is going to appear, what spectrum is it going to be in and also who is going to own and operate the assets, networks and services.”

At a panel discussion following the opening address, industry leaders continued the discussion of strategies and key considerations, agreeing that flexibility is indeed vital. They highlighted the importance of integrating cellular, WiFi and fiber infrastructures to deepen densification and achieve ubiquitous connectivity. Also on their radar was the emergence of virtualized infrastructure and the impact on network equipment costs, and the challenges, successes and future of converged networks. 

Panelist, Dennis McColl, Distinguished Member of Technical staff, Verizon Wireless, offered a different perspective. “The greatest challenge for in-building wireless adoption is getting everybody to agree on a course of action. We need to start forming agreements that are different from the agreements we’ve had before.”

He added, “Our customers have very diverse needs. There are a lot of solutions being discussed, but we need to focus on an achievable objective and work with our customers and form the agreements that are necessary to accomplish the task.” 

The diversity of the in-building wireless community McColl pointed to was clear at the 2019 congress. The 300+ industry stakeholders and decision-makers who attended came from across the value chain and included enterprise end users (26%), wireless carriers/network operators (20%), component manufacturers (17%), OEMs (11%) and engineering services/consultants (11%). 

In addition, the broad mix of 150+ companies represented included commercial real estate (42%), education (32%), government (16%), transportation (8%), and entertainment/sporting stadiums/arenas (2%).   

For decades, the congress has been the definitive three-day event bringing together the wireless eco-system to identify ways to meet the ever-increasing demand for in-building coverage and capacity. Each year, the driving message is the need to look ahead. This year was no different for attendees, whether building owners, enterprise end users, network operators, equipment manufacturers or solution providers: 

“I have found over the course of visiting and attending the conference a few years in a row, that it is beneficial for me to see what is happening and benchmark or get ideas that have occurred in Asia, the United States and Europe. This is a perfect forum and perfect opportunity in which to see that,” said Charles Bryan, Senior Director Real Estate & Special Projects, Freedom Mobile Inc. 

“As a public safety radio professional I have finally found a conference with sessions that are very educational and enlightening, and not ‘agenda driven.’ The In-Building Wireless Congress provides meaningful and worthwhile information for wireless professionals, consultants, and building owners,” James Graf, Telecommunications Support, University of Central Florida, said.  

Call for 2020 speakers is now open.

Planning is underway for the In-building Wireless Congress to be held June, 2020, in Las Vegas. This will be a market-driven event, shaped by the industry, for the industry. Dynamic, knowledgeable and engaging speakers are being sought to share their ideas on current trends in wireless coverage and capacity technologies and strategy, and provide useful and practical takeaways.

For questions about next year’s event contact [email protected]

July 23, 2019

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