By Jeff Hipchen, Executive Vice President, RF Connect
One wireless technology solution doesn’t solve all communication challenges.
Throughout history, we have learned that any monoculture is not only less than ideal, it can be dangerous.
Think of the Great Potato Famine in Ireland. Potatoes were the primary source of food and when a fungus in 1845 wiped out the crop they relied on, more than a million Irish died from hunger and another million left for other lands with more diverse food sources.
Similarly, imagine if your town chose to only plant ash trees – the tree population would have been devastated when the emerald ash borer hit. Those shady streets would be long gone until more trees were planted; surely the city planners would see the wisdom of choosing a variety of trees for obvious reasons.
The communication network provides a similar lesson.
One technology solution in all situations does not provide the uninterrupted, ubiquitous coverage to mobile devices that knowledge workers and consumers require.
Distributed antenna systems (DAS) are an ideal solution in some situations for wireless connectivity – but not for all instances. Ditto for small cell technologies and Wi-Fi. It’s actually true for any communication technology you can name. Relying on just one technology is as ill-conceived as the Irish planting only one type of potato or a city planner opting for one type of tree. While perfectly suitable in some environments, it’s destined to provide less than optimal wireless coverage in every situation.
Many factors determine which technology is the correct choice: signal quality, traffic distribution, power consumption, network throughput and others.
That’s why major mobile operators opt for a heterogeneous network – or HetNet – solution. It’s a wireless network that consists of macro base stations, small cells, DAS and Wi-Fi access points, all working together to provide seamless communication for the consumer. This is especially critical where user densities overwhelm the capacity of traditional macro base systems.
Frequency spectrum is a finite resource. Mobile operators can’t accommodate future growth by merely accessing more spectrum. They must become more efficient in how they manage the demand for more users accessing more devices and demanding higher capacity. In the age where knowledge workers are conducting business critical applications via mobile devices and consumers are frequently accessing and sharing social media, uninterrupted connectivity is essential.
A building or public venue – anywhere, actually – where wireless connectivity is inconsistently provided is a venue that is not leveraging its full potential.
HetNet provides the comprehensive solution by deploying small cells and DAS to complement macrocells and Wi-Fi. It’s only through coordinating wireless traffic to access both licensed and unlicensed spectrum through a variety of technologies that operators will be able to satisfy user expectations, and provide the quality of service that consumers have come to expect.