The Northeast DAS + Small Cell Association’s October 2, 2013 Educational Summit held at the Kellogg Conference Center and Hotel in Washington, D.C. engaged panelists and audiences alike across a variety of topics. During the first session after lunch titled ‘ROI Analysis – Does a DAS or Small Cell Network Deployment Pay,’ Bob Butchko, an expert in In-Building Wireless Communications currently at RF Connect, LLC, paved the way for the title of this article when he spoke quite a bit about ‘crossing the chasm.’
Complaints are the catalyst.
If you’re building an in-building system, it must be technology agnostic. Ultimately, it’s the end-user experience that will justify the cost – or the loss. But deciding on what type of system and how much you should build is rather challenging.
According to Benoit Fleury, who is responsible for iBwave’s overall product portfolio, the project must be well-defined and right-sized. “If you over-design a project, it will be more costly,” he stated. Fleury also added that a solution must be future-ready. And in the lifecycle of a real estate development project, we all know that 10 years is not a long time for gaining a return on an in-building project.
Butchko added to Fleury’s remarks that today’s building owners and even enterprises don’t have a cohesive way of doing things. They want it, but they want it on the cheap and therefore, ‘no future proofing is considered.’
“There’s still a level of sticker shock,” added Chris Graff, a Regional Sales Manager for SOLiD who also partook in the discussion on the panel. “Companies should consider their goals and then the ROI should be tied together.”
ROI Be Damned
Douglas J. Barnett, a 20-year veteran in the wireless industry, led the lively ‘ROI Analysis – Does a DAS or Small Cell Network Deployment Pay’ conversation among participating panelists. Rounding out the panelists was Rene Pachinbhayag, In-Building Solutions Manager at AT&T. While the panelists seemed, at times, to team up against the industry giant, Rene explained that not all projects can be (or should be) carrier-funded. Graff concurred and rightfully pointed out that while the carriers may hold the majority stake on ROI, the end goal is to make the end-users happy and encourage them to use as much technology as possible. In which instance, venue holders themselves have a large stake since they too want happy customers. But Graff emphasized, rightly so, that ultimately it’s the end users who pay the monthly bill and use the services.
Building owners shouldn’t cry wolf. They have the opportunity to fund the projects themselves. Rene pointed out that designing a building to be more energy-efficient saves the owners money. They should be looking at putting the savings from a more efficient design to use elsewhere, such as bringing the signal inside the building.
Who has the most at stake?
“Whoever is tied to the perception of the end-user experience has the most at stake,” Fleury pointed out. And that, my dear reader, is the name of the game. In the end, perception is key.
For more information about the Northeast DAS + Small Cell Association’s Educational Summit, and to view the presentation slide deck, click here.