As carrier spend slows, how should enterprises fund in-building cellular?

Carriers have a limited pool of money to spend on in-building cellular systems. As such, that investment is targeted toward marquee venues like stadia, transportation hubs and the like, and to high-priority customers. This paradigm means there’s a huge, underserved market that needs in-building coverage and capacity.

In a panel discussion at the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s HetNet Expo in West Palm Beach, Fla., moderator Rich Berliner posed the question, if cellular is the fourth utility, who’s the provider?

Allen Dixon, vice president of national accounts for Zinwave, framed it as a decision between an opex model or a cellular-as-a-service model. With an opex model, “You’re just sort of pushing that cost to a different bucket so you don’t have to pay it all at once. You can do that on your own as a venue. That’s still your network and you’re still responsible for it. If you look at it as a true service opportunity, then the field narrows a bit. There are a couple of operators that are starting to emerge now with service models. If you look at those, those guys are going to come in and give you a price, essentially, per square foot. The difference between the opex and the service model is basically who owns the network at the end of the day. Who’s going to take care of carrier negotiations? Who’s going to choose the OEM?”

Frankie Smith, vice president of sales at SureCall, framed it as a “good, better, best model, where best means the small cell or active DAS components. I also think what SureCall does on the passive side is really user-friendly and it’s really cost effective. We’re carrier agnostic, so it really helps simplify it for the real estate owner. That should be the first question the real estate owners asks is, ‘Is this compatible with my carriers, or is it compatible witha ll my end users that are in my building?’ A carrier agnostic solution is the best solution.”

Rounding out the panel session were John Bergeron of Boingo, Greg Najjar of ADRF and David Cheskis of Wireless Telecom Group. Watch the a video of the entire discussion at the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s Facebook page.




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