Since it purchased MobileAccess a little more than two years ago, Corning has been observing how different network technologies have developed in parallel, discrete paths in the small cell indoor space. The result is an unwieldy set of separate networks for cellular, Wi-Fi, RFID, security cameras, telemetry and building automation. The mix of networks could be improved by developing a core infrastructure that transports all voice, video and data, Derek Johnston, senior director market analysis, Corning MobileAccess, told DAS Bulletin.
“Wireless data systems, unable to keep up with the demand, are going through constant upgrade cycles in the enterprise and public venues,” he said. “We see the need for the infrastructure to transition to an optical-based network, and we also see a need to collapse networks into a platform where [the user or operator] doesn’t have to manage discrete systems.”
Corning launched an all-optical, converged in-building wireless system at CTIA 2013, which is targeted at enterprises, hotels, convention centers and other venues that need high-speed, high-capacity wireless hubs.
Built on an optical backbone, Corning’s ONE wireless platform is designed to handle core cellular technologies and enable multiple applications, including wireless LAN, public safety and location-based services. In addition, it offers Wi-Fi support through its built-in gigabit Ethernet and power-over-Ethernet capability.
The platform leverages fiber-to-the-edge technology to deliver more bandwidth, services and applications. Along with greater data speeds, capex and opex are decreased and disruptions for upgrades are reduced.
Bob Butchko, marketing and business development executive at RF Connect, told DAS Bulletin that the Corning product is going in the right direction. “It may not be the be-all, end-all, but it is definitely going toward this convergence of Wi-Fi and cellular,” he said.
The convergence of wireless networks is a natural, inevitable evolution in the wireless space, according to Butchko.
“And now the market has matured to the point where we are entering the mass market phase,” he said. “If that is the case, then you need products that are consolidated and converged.”
Managing multiple networks is fine for the early adopters, Butchko said. “But the mass market doesn’t want things in components. It wants the convenience of a one-stop shop.”
Other wireless manufacturers are also heeding the call to bring DAS and Wi-Fi together. For example, Axell Wireless has enhanced its optical-based DAS systems to share the same backhaul cabling infrastructure with Wi-Fi systems. TE Connectivity’s digital DAS also offers an integrated IP connection for adjunct services such as Wi-Fi or security.
Additionally, DAS-maker SOLiD has teamed with Stoke to provide GameChanger, which combines SOLiD’s Infinity Access optical network transport system with Stoke’s Wi-Fi eXchange gateway to create a neutral host Wi-Fi offload solution for wireless operators and venue owners.
Different personnel currently make wireless network decisions within enterprises, according to Mike Collado, spokesman for SOLiD, and those departments will converge alongside the networks as they converge. “As enterprises take a more holistic view of wireless networks, the solutions providers need to come up with holistic solutions, as well,” he said.
“As we look into the future, we see all-digital, all-IP networks where RF and IP converge, which will include cellular, Wi-Fi and other wireless systems, such as building automation, security cameras and RFID tagging,” Collado added