Today’s growing mobile dependency puts intense strain on the macro cellular network. Whether it’s getting a presentation you need in five minutes or streaming a video, when the network fails to make it happen, you are clearly on the edge! The edge is where we work and play and sleep and experience life. It’s also where the macro cellular network fails to meet our expectations.
Think Times Square on New Year’s Eve at midnight when thousands of people are trying to upload their selfies to Facebook at the same time, or on a subway car speeding along a track, or in a high-rise building where your office has a dead zone. Surges in traffic that strain bandwidth and RF interference can create an edge effect, where you can’t connect or stay connected.
A different model is needed: Edge Densification. In this model, a network of radio nodes—DAS or small cells—communicates with subscribers’ mobile devices. Edge densification adds access points that extend wireless coverage and create a dynamic, flexible network that delivers capacity where and when it is needed. Densifying the edge increases the effective bandwidth per square meter, while addressing rapidly changing coverage demands. Unfortunately, demand for edge densification is outpacing the budgets of carriers. Yesterday’s tier one model, one that addresses very large venues and strategic locations for the carriers, no longer applies.
Carriers have already implemented edge densification solutions for large venues like sports arenas, but they simply cannot afford to build out thousands of smaller venues like office buildings or hospitals. Innovative 3POs and VARs have started to recognize a big market opportunity. For example, Zenfi has built out a dark fiber network in New York City with the capacity to support a variety of edge applications. Densifying the edge will take a tool kit approach that includes C-RAN, Small Cells and DAS. No one technology or business model is the silver bullet.
Densifying the edge is a huge opportunity. The Middleprise segment of the market continues to evolve and place higher demands on both carriers and venues. I’m sure you have heard the numbers, and they are very telling. More cellular connections are made indoors than outdoors. Mobile devices are now mandatory tools across most industries.
Another area of change: carrier loyalty. Venue owners and tenants are now considering in-building coverage when they select a carrier for their corporate wireless needs. In the end, edge densification will ensure we continue to be connected as we rapidly advance mobile communication technologies and the networks that support them.