Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  15 Mar 2012

COMMUNICATIONS: Ubiquitous Indoor Coverage: SA OperatorsÂ’ Biggest Challenge


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Mobile data usage, across both business professionals and consumers, has grown immensely in the past couple of years. As a result of increased smartphone, tablet and wireless laptop usage, individuals are now able to access information from anywhere, at any time. Winston Smith, Managing Director of Alvarion in South Africa says that the increase in data traffic and the shift from traditional to rich data usage is leaving corporates, building owners and most importantly mobile operators in a data capacity crunch.

With smartphone and other devices becoming more adept at handling larger data loads like multimedia applications, networks are forced to adapt to support this shift. Smartphones can generate as much as 30 times more data than a standard feature cell phone. Usability inside facilities like office buildings, exhibition halls, conference centres or shopping malls is limited due to the lack of an in-building wireless infrastructure to support the new levels of connectivity and speed that todayÂ’s consumer and worker demand.

Building Insulation is Main Mobile Connectivity Issue

The biggest obstacle to quality mobile connectivity in-doors is that buildings, by design, are built to insulate from the outdoors. The reflective quality of window coating also blocks cellular signals and the result is limited mobile device performance inside buildings, and hence a poor user experience. “Delivering in-building data and voice traffic places up to three times as much strain on the network as the equivalent outdoor traffic,” says Smith.

Smith says that Wi-Fi, femtocells and DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) all play a role in addressing the connectivity issue but they don’t all offer a full-proof solution. “When faced with architectural challenges that inhibit indoor reception, operators need to find the right combination of coverage. Wi-Fi can provide hot spot coverage, but doesn’t have the clear advantages of licensed spectrum,” says Smith. “Femtocells can only have a single operator support the service, like MTN or Vodacom, and it only supports one type of services, like 2G or 3G, but not both.”

DAS Solutions Providing What Mobile Operators Desire

DAS solutions allow mobile operators to provide more capacity and deliver optimal service levels in the busiest and most demanding surroundings, including those within a corporate environment. Alvarion’s BreezeCELL™ solution, based on TrueActive™ DAS technology offers a single platform to serve multiple wireless technologies, such as 2G for voice and 3G for data and is able to provide in-building coverage and capacity from multiple operators. In the future the ability to support 4G technologies may also be a possibility.

Smith says that a unique value proposition of the BreezeCELL DAS solution is that it can be installed utilising the existing cable infrastructure as used by the cabled television within a hotel or building, thereby reducing the overall cost and speed of deployment.

“South African operators are facing a significant challenge ensuring voice and data quality in-doors. With the pressure on their networks due to the constant data crunch, they will need to find a solution to overcome these challenges with the most efficient network and avoid churn by providing their customers with the best possible level of service,” concluded Smith.

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