As 2019 draws to an end, we’re reflecting on the past 12 months and what’s to come for 2020 for us as a company and the wireless industry as a whole.
What we achieved in 2019
We’ve worked on some fantastic projects this year, deploying our indoor multi-operator 4G service within 1.6m sqft of commercial real estate; 2019 saw Spectrum widen our reach to America, Ireland, Germany & India, carrying out indoor coverage surveys for a number of landlords and enterprise clients; our partnership with TwistedPair, following the appointment of Adam Glyde and Toby Woodfine as Directors to the business has strengthened our position in the industry as a trusted global service provider to many of the world’s leading technology companies and landlords; we really couldn’t be happier!
What’s been happening in wireless?
There’s been a lot of noise in the cellular industry in 2019; the emergence of 5G, the new Emergency Services Network (ESN), Shared Spectrum Access, Open RAN and vRAN, all of which are very exciting developments, however, what should the real estate industry be keeping their eye on, what’s the reality of it all and how do you prepare for these technologies in 2020?
Everyone wants to talk about 5G
Everyone we meet asks if our service is 5G ready? Although the indoor coverage technology we deploy has capabilities to deliver 3Ghz to 6Ghz, the real high bandwidth 5G services, we tend to ask why? If you imagine it’s taken 4G 10 years to get to where it is now, as a technology, we firstly think 5G has a long way to go. If we’re talking about stadia and high capacity public venues, 5G is certainly a strong consideration to deliver massive data usage, however, for commercial real estate, given so little has dedicated mobile coverage at present, we think it essential to focus on 4G, especially given the UK’s emergency services is starting a transition from TETRA to EE’s 4G network (ESN).
As few indoor coverage technologies such as a Distributed Antenna System’s (DAS) or small Cell have capabilities to deliver 3G, 4G and 5G through a single access point, our advice is to ensure your building is flooded with single mode fibre as this type of cabling has the capabilities to deliver high bandwidth services which 5G will drive. Given that an indoor coverage system will require both 4G and 5G and the cost implications of deploying multiple cellular bands, the most cost effective strategy would be to plan for the future with appropriate cabling and containment being in-place for 5G once it has matured. From our perspective, we’re delivering 160Mb with 4G, so we think these speeds will see users through for some years yet :)
The Emergency Services Network
We’ve banged on a fair bit about this throughout 2019 and it’s not going to change in 2020. We can’t stress enough that if you have public safety at the heart of your building, you must ensure it has dedicated coverage for the new Emergency Services Network (ESN), running on EE’s 1800Mhz and 800Mhz 4G spectrum. EE do have measures in place to provide temporary coverage to buildings in the event of an emergency to ensure the Police, Ambulance and Fire responders can communicate, however, 4G is very poor at penetrating buildings and nothing will provide a seamless connectivity to blue light services throughout your campus, school, estate or building, better than dedicated 4G. You will of course benefit from voice and data for staff, guests and tenants. This will be a hot topic for 2020!
Virtual Radio Access Network (vRAN)
vRAN is going to be a game changer for 2020! At present, a DAS still requires around 1 x 47U cabinets per network operator, which of course, no one wants to give you; space = money!
There are a number of vendors and service providers virtualising the mobile networks bulky 3G/4G base stations which take up room, need cooling and are expensive. This revolution is essential centralising this network infrastructure into a data centre, like a cloud service, meaning we just require an internet connection from the data centre to a building, router and switch which will then connect either to a DAS or small cell. This will be a huge cost, power and space saver, speeding up the time of deployment and keeping our real estate friends happy. We’re really excited about this development and look forward to the year ahead.
Shared Spectrum Access
In 2019, Ofcom made a publication stating that they are making spectrum within the 3.8Ghz – 3.4Ghz spectrum bands available for outdoor use and 24.25-26.5 GHz for indoor use through local licenses, allowing for innovation within enterprise, manufacturing, agriculture, logistics and many other industries. These local licenses will be granted to neutral hosts, systems integrators and managed service providers which has historically only been available to Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s).
There are very few service providers of indoor cellular such as 4G as it’s very tricky dealing with the MNO’s which has hindered the amount of organisations able to operate within our industry. This very exciting development from Ofcom means that organisations can deploy their own private 4G system within their building or estate at a much lower cost than traditionally possible, allowing them to have guaranteed mobile voice and data and 4G enabled push to talk services for security, not to mention a huge amount of IoT applications for sensors, cameras and BMS. Spectrum Infrastructure welcome this news from Ofcom and look forward to new markets opening up to us with exciting services for our customers.
2020 for Spectrum Infrastructure
For us, our focus is still indoor 4G within commercial real estate, serving developers, landlords and enterprise alike; we plan to build upon our international reach as we have done in 2019, delivering guaranteed cellular throughout the words most impressive buildings. Raising awareness of ESN is going to be a hot topic for Spectrum! As a provider of critical national infrastructure, public safety is key to our offering. vRAN is undoubtedly going to change real estate for the better; we plan to deliver our indoor 4G service faster, at a lower cost and in a way that impacts the environment less than what’s available to us today.
Finally, a big thank you to all our customers, contacts, friends and family who have helped Spectrum throughout the last 12 months. We’ve achieve some great things and can’t wait for what lies ahead.