DAS as the 4th Utility – Would You Build a Venue Without a Toilet?

NEDASWhen constructing, designing and building any type of real estate, the key utilities area is always considered vital to its potential success; water, gas and electricity.  Of course, telecommunication services are also a key factor – both voice and data – but what about the in-building wireless infrastructure?

At the Northeast DAS and Small Cell Association’s Fall Educational Summit held on October 2, 2013 at the Kellogg Conference Center Hotel in Washington, D.C., the first panel of the day, titled ‘Putting the Converged Network Together’, discussed exactly that.

Putting the Converged Network Together – Like a Quilt

The panelists included Joshua Broder, CEO of Tilson; Ray Hild of Corning; and Doug Wiest, EVP of EdgeConneX.  The session was moderated by Peter Murray of CCI Systems.  While Hild cited that we were on the verge of a tsunami, in relation to the need to deploy and install DAS and small cell systems, Wiest urged end-users to seek more holistic solutions.  The panelists discussed the need to stitch together the different defined solutions – like a quilt – to help manage the growth and data expectations.

But the hurdles are common across the board.  Many companies seek solutions in a ‘herky jerky way,’ commented Broder.   While ‘herky jerky’ may not be a technical term, his point was as follows: “different strategies are happening all at once, they just aren’t happening by all carriers,” meaning that not one single carrier has a holistic approach to the design needed to bring the converged network together.  At least not just yet.

Tsunami Meets the Tip of the Iceberg: Challenges Still Exist

Wiest of EdgeConneX was apt to advise that we are just at the tip of the iceberg in that macro networks are starting to break – an observation he is fully entitled to make based on his professional tenure.  Prior to EdgeConneX, Doug was the COO of American Tower and the President and CEO of Lightower – both companies known for trailblazing the macro cell, cell tower and operating side of this industry sector.  According to Wiest, there is currently a mind shift with the carriers.  It’s like a light bulb has finally switched on.

There’s a different story in corporate than the working level.  There are two fundamental challenges: site acquisition and backhaul.  According to Wiest’s comments – perhaps there’s a larger third challenge lingering though – convergence of the thought process between executives and those in the field.  But more importantly, from the top level all the way down, providers must set expectations with real estate owners.  At the end of the day, “traditional utilities don’t care about you, I worked with one for a long-time,” adds Wiest.  “Deploying one small cell at a time just won’t cut it.”

Competition Looms…. at Home

With arenas taking center stage on deploying DAS solutions to provide attendees across disparate service provider networks access to stronger signals and greater bandwidth, the competition at home still looms.  “The 60-inch screen in our homes is sometimes a greater draw than fans attending and using technology in the arenas,” commented Peter Murray.

While at home, comfortably watching the game on a large high-definition T.V., viewers have endless access to food, drinks and of course, their toilet.  If DAS and/or small cell were truly to be considered the fourth utility, ‘would you build a stadium without a toilet?,” commented Murray.  In other words, would you give the faucets away for free?

For more information about the Northeast DAS + Small Cell Association’s Educational Summit and to view the presentation slide deck, click here.


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