In-building wireless is a red hot market, particularly given the shift from carrier subsidized deployments to enterprise- or neutral-host led financing models. To better enable enterprise buyers, equipment vendors are looking for ways to take cost and complexity out of DAS and small cells, the two solutions that get the majority of the mindshare when considering the in-building space. But there are more tools in the kit.
Werner Sievers, CEO of Nextivity, said during an interview at the recent DAS and Small Cells Congress event that many companies are “trying to bring the price point down to $1-per-square-foot. We’re operating at half that price point today.” They do that through a hybrid approach that, as the company describes it, “combines the best of active DAS and smart booster technologies,” for in-building wireless coverage in venues up to 200,000-square-feet.
From a product perspective, that’s accomplished by Cel-Fi Quatra, which supports either an off-air application, or deployment in conjunction with a small cell. Nextivity’s network unit can attach to a small cell, then feed the signal to up to four coverage units supplying RF and power over Ethernet cabling.
Sievers said, “We think that the small cell is going to become quite a consumerized device in time. At this point in time, we’re containing our architecture to make sure we’re functional with all small cells so we can directly couple to a small cell. We take that capacity and we can make it accessible by the rest of the space.”
In an off-air application, Sievers said the company has seen lots of international attention, particularly from South America, as it relates to Cel-Fi Quatra. “In this environment, there’s a lot of off-air connectivity. We’re able to really optimize signals to improve the indoor experience of a moderate outdoor signal. The fear with operators around the world is if you say anyone can hang things off-air, you get these heavily-laden systems that create noise and interference for the base stations that serve them.”
In this scenario, Sievers said Cel-Fi Quatra can cover up to a 50,000-square-foot space, and, in a bid to further make the offering appeal to the enterprise, can generally be installed by IT staff with no specific RF experience.