Let's kick off with some quick stats, shall we?
- There are 4 Billion connected people.
- There are 50 Billion connected devices.
- Indoors mobile traffic contributes 80% of the total mobile traffic today.
- The number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 50.1 Billion by 2020.
- In-Building Wireless market is expected to be worth $16.71 Billion by 2020.
- IBW equipment market itself is expected to be worth $10 Billion by 2025.
- Out of this, IBW 5G equipment alone is expected to be worth over $500 Million by 2025.
We live in a world where everything is mobile, nimble, and fluid. Our needs and demands are always changing and always in motion - and so are we! Always shifting and always on the move.
Today's workplace isn't tied to their desks. Or their offices for that matter. We work from our offices, our homes, from cafe's, from client sites, from airports, from hotels, and even from our holiday destinations! The fluidity of today's workforce has long put a spotlight on the IBW coverage gaps. The need to expand and strengthen both, our macro and micro, networks is more real now than ever before. And the demand for omnipresent network coverage, and of a great quality at that, is only ascending.
It's no surprise that the industry is in the nucleus of an impending spectacular shift. Yes, spectacular is the word because no matter how rollercoaster of a ride it may be to get there, it will be grand once we land in an era of omnipresent network coverage. So what's happening that's pulling us in that direction?
- The cellular and Wi-Fi technologies are in the midst of converging.
- A number of technical and standards developments are happening.
- License Assisted Access (LAA), LTE Wi-Fi link aggregation (LWA), Hotspot 2.0, Wi-Fi calling, and more are in play.
- The recent spectrum auction freeing up a lot of frequencies.
- The race to the 5G is in its full motion, and the
- The IoT (Internet of Things) is larger than life, and only around the corner.
Not only these, but the shift is also driven by 5 GHz support on devices becoming ubiquitous, agnostic OTT applications, new non-traditional spectrum-sharing options and models, etc. The biggest driver of all is the core need to ensure consistent coverage and quality experience for the users at large.
Enterprises and Businesses have predominantly embraced Wi-Fi for the primary in-building wireless data connectivity. But is that enough in today's day and age? The answer is no. There is a gaping hole in the in-building micro network that needs filling. Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and traditional Small Cells are there to address a lot of these issues over the micro network. While there's no one-shoe-fits-all solution to IBW coverage, enterprises need to look into various factors and dig deep to find out what they truly need that not only meets all the user demands, but also meets all regulatory requirements and standards.
Though the 'outside-in' approach is widespread, it does not go without challenges. From building materials that often block or weaken wireless signals, to unreliable reach of macro network to top floors of the high-rise buildings, to fickle coverages in tricky spots, to intermittent connectivity because of street-level shadowing - the macro network alone just doesn't cut it anymore.
So what does it really mean for the enterprises and building owners?
The rising demand for In-Building-Wireless (IBW) coverage needs to be addressed now with more urgency than ever before. However, tackling the IBW coverage gaps issue is a holistic one that needs a wider participation at all levels. Implementations can bring about a lot of challenges - but do they have to?
With a right integration partner, it doesn't have to be a challenging and difficult ride. The solution needs to be architected right from day one, the pre-installation due-diligence has to be conducted properly, and there are regulations and standards that need to be met. Sure, there are many ways to lose money with DAS, but with the right partner, neither do you have to lose money, nor does the IBW project have to be a bumpy ride.