Small Cells – Popular Beliefs are Challenged by Reality!

September 12, 2016

einsteinWhile at the Las Vegas airport, returning from CTIA Super Mobility, we were reflecting on many of the unexpected places where SpiderCloud is participating in rollouts of our Enterprise RAN system. The locations themselves are challenging a number of widely held popular beliefs about venue and customer acceptance of small cells in the wireless industry.

To share the context, there are a few small cells beliefs that permeate wireless thinking:

  1. Large venues and public institutions, like universities, must be multi-operator. Their Telecom/IT leadership won’t entertain alternatives.
  2. Where a venue is large enough that an operator’s business case to supply a base station for multi-operator DAS is positive, there is little room for small cells.
  3. Enterprises with mobile BYOD policies require multi-operator systems.

Where are we seeing challenges to these arise?

  • A number of Universities, after they have been successful with a pilot single building small cells deployment, have decided to partner with the operator who supplied the small cells to add more buildings to their improvement plans. Universities, in the past, have been very vocal about the need to support mobile devices for every student. The driver behind the decisions is that the expense, to the University, to fund multi-operator infrastructure has less priority than other areas competing for budgetary allocations.
  • Greenfield facilities that have no indoor cellular improvements in-place and are large enough to justify multi-operator are opting for small cells. The decision in balance is that implementing small cells from a single operator outweigh the multi-operator demands of the business due to cost, complexity and disruption associated with multi-operator construction activities. This is especially apparent in hospitals (infection control measures) and older buildings (asbestos abatement) where Ethernet and Wi-Fi infrastructures have already put in place structured cabling that can be used to deploy small cells without the complexity of opening walls or ceilings.
  • Enterprises with BYOD policies who have decided, at national or regional level, to deploy small cells from one operator to solve for the indoor coverage demands of employees and contractors. The twin driver behind the decisions are the expense to fund multi-operator infrastructure has less priority than other areas competing for budgetary allocations and, if an employee has coverage problems, they need to move to the operator who has invested in the enterprise. This approach leverages Apple and Google migration utilities that enable extremely fast and accurate moving of configuration and data between similar devices along with very attractive credits (US$650 as of this posting date) to offset employee liable hardware costs and termination fees.

Today’s downstream enterprise IT stakeholders who are making decisions for their operations and facilities are challenging the popular beliefs that shape our thinking about their business needs. IT leadership has realized that the mobile devices that their business demands are available from all the “business class” operators, and it’s more cost effective for them to request scalable small cells and partner with one primary operator.

In summary, budgetary pressures and the competitive nature of our market will continue to demand that we all question popular beliefs like enterprise IT is doing.

– Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Twitter: @ArtKingg
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