IWCE Just Warming Up With HetNet, FirstNet and Networking

From left to right: Inside Towers Managing Editor Jim Fryer, Todd Schlekeway, Tom Chamberlain,
Allen Dixon, Kevin Forte, Patrick Lau. Photo by George Reed, Co-Owner, Inside Towers

Day Two of the IWCE Expo in Orlando covered a range of topics before the main festivities, such as the Keynote addresses and expo floor opening, get underway today.  FirstNet seemed to find its way into most conversations, even if not the titled topic of the session although “NG911 and FirstNet” and “The FirstNet Kitchen Sink” tackled the subject head on.

A morning session moderated by Inside Towers Managing Editor Jim Fryer, covered “HetNet, Small Cells and More: the New Wireless Site.”  Panelists included Kevin Forte of Crown Castle, Todd Schlekeway of NATE, Patrick Lau of Comba Telecom, Tom Chamberlain of Westell and Allen Dixon of Zinwave.

How will AT&T deploy FirstNet and will they allow repeaters? Chamberlain asked. “With over 25,000 AHJs [Authorities Having Jurisdiction] across USA,” he said “each has different levels of knowledge, standards adoption and enforcement.  Their existing radio investment dictates priority and migration to FirstNet at 700 MHz.” Chamberlain pointed out AHJs may not allow shared infrastructure.

Kevin Forte, Program Manager iDAS & Venues for Crown Castle established his company’s credentials on the subject by noting they had 40,000 towers, 50,000 small cells on air or under contract and approximately 60,000 route miles of fiber. “Increased demand creates congestion which can only be eliminated by more infrastructure,” Forte said. “But towers can’t do it alone,” he said. “They must be complemented with rooftop installations and small cell solutions to meet the wireless infrastructure demands of the country.”  Sometimes those rooftop and camouflaged demands can get expensive…and weird. Forte recalls having to build “$33,000 french fries” to accommodate one client.

Allen Dixon of Zinwave cited a survey of 612 Public Safety IAFC Members that discovered the following:
150 MHz deployments are more prevalent that we expected
95% of Fire Responders realize they respond in areas of poor coverage
FirstNet in-building coverage is going to be critical to a successful deployment
“Macro deployment will be relatively easy,” Dixon said, ‘effectively done today with AT&T non-band 14 but In-building coverage likely to be a problem for 700 MHZ LTE for a First Responder Converged Network.


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