It all seems very symmetrical. While DAS has been moving indoors to provide cellular coverage, Wi-Fi is now moving outside as users look for access to the unlicensed service in more and more places. Ventev Wireless Infrastructure first saw this need at the big box retailers, which wanted Wi-Fi coverage in their outdoor garden areas, and the warehousing industry, where trucks coming into the dock that have data to be transmitted.
There are two ways to deploy Wi-Fi outside, one is to use a hardened access point and the other is to take the inside access points outside, Jeff Lime, vice president, Ventev Wireless Infrastructure, a subsidiary of TESSCO, told DAS Bulletin.
“The benefit from the viewpoint of a network engineer of extending the indoor Wi-Fi system into the surrounding area is that instead of using a hardened outdoor access point, which changes the Wi-Fi topology into separate outdoor and indoor systems, the enterprise can maintain a single Wi-Fi network,” he said.
The challenge of using indoor antennas in the outdoors is trying to protect them and keep them heated and cooled, Lime said.
“Because the Wi-Fi is designed for the indoor environment, [we had to figure out] how to make it ruggedized, easy to deploy and more cost effective,” he said. “By making fully integrated systems that come fully equipped with all the grounding, surge protection, heating and cooling elements, we developed a system where the user only needs to mount the access point and plug it in.”
Ventev debuted several outdoor enclosure systems at CTIA last week, which indoor access points from Cisco, Aruba and others. The line includes an integrated, single-input power-over-Ethernet enclosure system completely independent of AC power. Other models vary based on the HVAC, power and backup power needs of the site.
Ventev also saw a need for enterprises and carriers to deploy temporary Wi-Fi in outdoor venues for sporting events, disaster relief or mission-critical applications. Concert tour companies would be able to take a Wi-Fi system on the road and set it up at each event, according to Lime.
To fill this need, the company created a temporary hotspot that houses a switch, access points, surge protection and power inside a 24-in. by 24-in. by 10-in. enclosure. One enclosure with four access points can provide Wi-Fi service to entire football field. It can either run on an Ethernet cable or use one of the access points for backhaul.
The market for temporary Wi-Fi includes wireless carriers, according to Lime. In fact, a tier-one wireless carrier is already using the enclosure for temporary events.