There are various ways in which businesses and public entities (such as universities) can implement Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) within a given venue. If you are interested in deciding upon a best-practice deployment strategy for your organization, read on.
Divestiture was the term used when the original AT&T Corporation, which had been declared a monopoly, was broken up into the seven “Baby Bells.” The divestiture of 1974 did create competition in the telephone industry as it was intended to; however, it also left behind a legacy that made it difficult for competitors to collaborate on shared financial objectives. This is especially true when private venues are involved. Public venues (taxpayer-supported facilities like state universities, transportation authorities, or government agencies), on the other hand, are regulated by specific rules stating that WSPs should cooperate and in fact, team up with one another. In the latter, which is a “share-and-share-alike” paradigm, every stakeholder contributes an equal share of money to the project and has equal access to all the equipment provisioned.
When the venue is private the process of how to best interact and deploy final solutions is not always clear. What is understood is that WSPs naturally seek to deploy DAS infrastructure in given areas based upon their individual market shares, service offerings and network coverage. In other words, WSPs are very competitive, and they will do what they can to stay ahead of the game. When “equal sharing”, as seen in the public model above, is not mandatory, one carrier will inevitable be chosen to act as the lead on any specific DAS deployment. While it’s true that the lead carrier will be required to incorporate into the system design some aspects that are not essential to its own individual network infrastructure goals (and don’t even utilize the same frequencies), in an effort to make the DAS accessible to other carriers, you can be sure that, at the end of the day, it will have designed itself an advantage. The question is: how big of an advantage and how much will this impact other carriers from joining up?
Since the DAS equipment manufacturers’ gear is capable of re-promulgating any signal with quality, the lead carrier will be able to claim that the network environment is “Carrier Neutral.” In reality, however, there are many technical aspects that can favor the lead carrier over any subsequent participants. What you have to watch for is if there are too many inequalities (and the WSP favors itself too much), other carriers will not want to get involved at all; in this case, your venue will be left with only one service provider. The impact would be a reduced number of service options to the students, faculty, and visitors, and reduced income or infrastructure investment to the University.
Wireless Service Providers are in the business of buying spectrum, then charging others (their subscribers) for its use. To be successful in an industry that leases spectrum to subscribers for pennies per call, WSPs naturally seek to increase their subscriber base and the average revenue per user, while winning sufficient competitor churn and reducing churn from their own customer base. Churn occurs when a subscriber is dissatisfied with its wireless service and jumps to another provider. If a given WSP has low churn, then its profits remain high. Likewise, if it has many unhappy subscribers, then its churn is high, and profits decline.
More than 70% of wireless traffic happens within buildings, so doing everything possible to leverage a position of advantage over the competition in a large building venue is a good way to influence the local market share by creating a preferred customer-base. This strategy can be deployed by a lead WSP in these ways:
In addition, business issues, such as contract negotiations, require much more legal time due to the anti-trust liabilities involved. This fact results in project, licensing, and leasing agreement delays, which incur costs that can discourage participation.
On some occasions the WSP that may seem like the obvious choice to lead the DAS deployment today becomes a less good choice as time evolves. Considering the dynamics of the WSP community over the last 10 years, the likelihood that today’s lead carrier will morph into something different in the next 10 years is pretty high. In the WSP community nothing is permanent except change; and that change occurs with increasing rapidity as time progresses.
If you are a university, you have fans, faculty, students, and service providers that are concurrently using three generations of technology. Some lead carrier service providers are reluctant to provide 2G voice services, as their sunset is likely to occur inside the terms of the 10+ year lease agreements. Others may be anxious to deploy technology advancements and will insist that all participants pay for an upgrade from which they won’t be able to benefit for several years. Still others might be reluctant to upgrade the system in the case where it only benefits a competitor. These circumstances are generating frustrations and legal maneuverings in venues nationwide as second tier stakeholders seek assistance to resolve their differences with the lead carrier.
Most of these venues were enterprises where only a single carrier solution was required, which is clearly a preferred investment opportunity. Successful DAS projects where multiple service providers participate cooperatively over generations of technology evolution require several circumstances to be present at project inception:
“Venues requiring multi-carrier or host neutral solutions should be reluctant to expect that an organization specializing in the delivery of one technology can well assume the responsibility for a technology other than their own. As the differences among deployment tactics for various waveforms are substantial, trusting the needs of the many to an organization not familiar with those needs is a recipe for friction and disappointment.”
Steel in the Air has the cross-technology expertise and liaison experience to assure that the DAS systems deployed across the speedway community will create and maintain an optimum fan experience. When our resources engage, the venue is assured of a modular, expandable, evolutionary solution that will support the fans through whatever changes in the business and technology climate may occur. Wireless Service Providers are good at competing with one another for subscriber business; we are good at creating technical and business conditions conducive to a shared-resource paradigm with high levels of efficacy for all, while isolating the property or venue owner from the inter-stakeholder bickering derived from an uneven playing field.