Northeast DAS & Small Cell Association’s (NEDAS) upcoming New York City Summit on September 6, 2018 will cover a wide range of topics including Public Safety. John Foley, the General Manager of the Safer Buildings Coalition, an independent, non-profit organization focused on advancing policies, ideas and technologies that ensure comprehensive in-building communications capabilities for Public Safety and the people they serve. In our discussion, Foley provided his insight on the changes in the in-building wireless industry these past 12 months and provided his insights on the future of where it may all be headed.
TelecomNewsroom (TNR) Q1: How has the in-building wireless industry changed in the past 12 months?
John Foley (JF) A1: In many ways. What is on my radar are the following six key initiatives: carriers continue to marshal their capital and engineering firms tell me their volume is up – which signals more projects coming in the near term; Public Safety DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) and Repeater Systems continue to grow as more and more fire and building code officials implement IFC (International Fire Code) and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) codes required of them. The trend is driving enforcement by more jurisdictions therefore driving more system deployments; Florida is requiring that all (including existing) buildings comply with in-building booster codes by 2022 (with some exceptions); Enterprise continues to be on the hook for funding; New 3PO and hybrid finance models are emerging; and finally, FirstNet realities are driving AT&T to take a closer look at in-building commercial cellular coverage (for AT&T bands). I think we ought to look for AT&T to roll out guidance on this in the next six months.
TNR Q2: What do you predict will be the long-term impact of emerging technologies and trends implemented in the coming 12 months?
JF A2: I predict there will be continued pressure on commercial properties to ensure cellular and public safety coverage is driving a need for lower cost in-building solutions as well as highlighting the need for new funding models. Location Accuracy requirements from the FCC are driving innovation that blurs the lines between mobility, WiFi, and upcoming 5G and CBRS implementations. The industry should look for WiFi and VoWiFi to emerge to fill the in-building coverage gaps.
TNR Q3: What is the most exciting technology or solution that you are seeing in the market?
JF A3: Device-based ELS (Emergency Location Services) are leapfrogging Network-based location accuracy paradigms while Digital Electricity is extending distributed power farther than ever and dropping the cost of resilient distributed power. Software Defined “white boxes” reduce the risk of hardware obsolescence. Fiber-connected cell hubs that support multiple carriers, CBRS, and more.
TNR A4: What drives the Safer Buildings Coalition mission?
JF A4: The Safer Buildings Coalition seeks to lift the entire mobility and life safety in-building industry in an effort to achieve ubiquitous communication availability when it is needed most (in an emergency). We are different from other trade associations by devoting energy and resources to drive the industry via top-down advocacy while delivering grass-roots local support to our members to develop local relationships and build channel. There are over 6 million commercial properties in the US, and most have poor in-building radio and cell coverage. The SBC cannot succeed in its mission to make buildings safer if the in-building industry and the solutions it offers does not scale sufficiently to meet that need and bridge that gap.
TNR Q5: What excites you about the future of the telecom industry in regards to wireless and wireline technologies and trends?
JF A5: Everything discussed up to this point is exciting. Most exciting for me is the degree of collaboration evident in the Safer Building Coalition membership (and adjacent sectors) working collectively to scale the industry and the solutions that will be needed to close the coverage and capacity gaps we see today.
Thank you John. It sounds like the Safer Building Coalition’s mission is very important and a great resource for our readers to learn more about the changes shaping communications among the public service sector. Our readers can learn more about the Safer Building Coalition by visiting: https://www.saferbuildings.org. John will be on a panel titled Public Safety: Challenges and Solutions at the upcoming NEDAS NYC Summit on September 6, 2018 in New York City at Convene Times Square. John will be joined by experts from Corning, Anritsu, Microlab and the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.). To register for the NEDAS NYC Summit please click here.
About John Foley:
John has held key business development, operations, engineering, and executive roles at telecom service companies such as Level 3 Communications, MFS, and MCI. John was a co-founder of XO Communications where he was VP of Operations and Engineering, and later VP of International Network Development. John led dark fiber provider City Signal Communications in the position of President and CEO. John most recently served as Capture Director for specialty construction firm Henkels and McCoy, a leading DAS Integrator.
 To learn more about these codes you can visit the Safer Buildings Coalition website for a quick code reference guide: https://www.saferbuildings.org/quick-code-reference