Yohannes Cramlet is director, business development for Boingo Wireless. He is responsible for assisting venues as varied as hospitals and stadiums identify wireless coverage and capacity solutions while also soliciting carrier interest and participation. A few of his projects include Philips Arena DAS and Wi-Fi, John Wayne Airport DAS and Wi-Fi and Airforce Academy DAS and Wi-Fi. He has also served as Manager, Project Deployment and Business Development, Acela Technologies; Regional Project Manager,T-Mobile; and Director of Development Services, Celcite Management Solutions.
August 13, 2014 — BlueStream Professional Services, which provides planning, implementation and maintenance services for wireless, wireline and data center networks, has purchased assets of Tempest Telecom Solutions’ DAS and Small Cell Division, further enhancing the scale and capabilities of its wireless services. Terms of the transaction were not released.
“This acquisition provides us with the opportunity to increase our scale, while further diversifying and extending our market coverage for DAS and small cell services,” said Trevor Putrah, president of KGP Companies, parent of BlueStream.
The deal is a part of the ongoing consolidation of the DAS ecosystem of smaller regional companies, which is a sign of the maturation of the marketplace, according to Joe Madden, Mobile Experts.
“There’s a long list of small companies with expertise in DAS deployment … that are recognizing the new emphasis on in-building mobile infrastructure by the major operators, which requires a nationwide footprint and a deeper bench when it comes to the talent pool you have to put out into the field,” Madden said.
BlueStream Professional Services provides cell site solutions, including installation and upgrade of technology and equipment, structural capacity analysis and antenna repositioning. It also provides data center planning and deployment, as well as customized outsourced services.
“Before buying Tempest, Bluestream was involved in DAS, but they were not as prominent. This allows them to expand beyond their focus on data centers and other areas [such as cell site services and muli-switching centers],” Madden said.
DAS integration companies are growing in market coverage through acquisitions. Goodman Networks acquired Cellular Specialties last year. Black Box bought InnerWireless in 2012. H&M NetWorks picked up a DAS design and engineering firm, In-Building Wireless, in 2011. Crown Castle purchased Next G Networks in 2011 and NewPath Networks in 2011.
Others are growing more organically. American Tower began developing DAS networks in 2001 and claims to have the most neutral-host indoor DAS networks in the industry. InSite Wireless built and launched its first DAS at the Moscone Center in San Francisco in 2001, which was the first independently owned, neutral-host DAS in the United States.
Mobilitie, after selling off its assets to SBA Communications, is building out neutral-host DAS, small cell and Wi-Fi networks. Boingo Wireless is building out DAS and Wi-Fi networks across sporting venues, airports, convention centers and office buildings. ExteNet Systems is growing steadily through high profile deployments in high-rise office buildings, such as the Willis Tower in Chicago and the Empire State Building; sporting venues, including the University of Michigan football stadium, Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center and Miami’s Marlins Park; hotels, such as the Omni Severin; and healthcare facilities, such as Banner Health.
“It’s an ongoing process. Companies have been scaling up in the last five years,” Madden said. “Eventually we will reach the point where we have companies that are sophisticated with RF planning models and have people in every major market in the United States. That is an important part of developing a mature ecosystem that is capable of deploying small cells and DAS in the millions. The operators don’t have the manpower to put a million small cells into the field.”
Another firm developing a nationwide footprint is Connectivity Wireless Solutions, which has implemented more than 2,500 DAS networks in 49 states. It has offices in Atlanta; Dallas; Houston; Chicago; San Francisco; Orlando, Florida; Frederick, Maryland; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Anaheim, California. Other key players in the DAS integration space include RF Connect and DAS Simplified.
Tempest Telecom grew in 2011 when it purchased Leaf Communications Services, a West Coast DAS integrator. A year later, it hired Darlene Braunschweig from Corning MobileAccess as president of its DAS and Small Cell Division. She will become the general manager for the BlueStream DAS and small cell business unit.
August 13, 2014 — The September 11th attacks became Exhibit One for the communications needs of public safety and the public. Consequently, in-building communications are a cornerstone of the new World Trade Center, with its spire 1,776 feet in the air, as it deploys public safety and commercial DAS systems across its sprawling campus.
Boingo Wireless won the commercial contract to design, install and operate a neutral host, cellular DAS network and Wi-Fi network covering 1.6 million square feet of the World Trade Center, according to an agreement signed last week with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. One of the nation’s largest public safety communications centers was deployed at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.
In May, the Port Authority, through its prime contractor, Five Star Electric, awarded Pinnacle Wireless, a public safety integrator, a $37 million wireless systems integration contract for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub using Axell Wireless equipment. Work was scheduled to be complete in June.
Comprehensive Coverage for Cell Phones
The cellular DAS system deployed by Boingo will provide comprehensive coverage to more than 1.6 million square feet of the World Trade Center, including the Port Authority Transportation Hub, the vehicle security center, retail spaces and other core facilities throughout the buildings.
Boingo will also install high-density Wi-Fi networks, providing complimentary Wi-Fi access to visitors throughout the public areas of the Transportation Hub, retail spaces and other core locations. Wireless services are scheduled to launch timed to the opening of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in 2015.
The Transportation Hub is projected to be the third largest in New York City, serving more than an estimated 100 million passengers and visitors annually, and it will provide pedestrian access to the WTC, the World Financial Center, PATH and the New York Subway system. The Vehicle Security Center will be a transportation center for building tenants, administration and visitor vehicles.
Boingo has a longstanding relationship with the Port Authority providing DAS and Wi-Fi services at the Port Authority’s John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark airports, as well as DAS services in the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels.
Axell Wireless Covers the Public Safety Side
The Transportation Hub also serves as the communications hub, serving all the of the
World Trade Center buildings. The integrated public safety system includes Axell Wireless’ optical master unit fiber head end units, directional couplers, VHF filters and distribution amplifier packages covering 88 channels for UHF, VHF and 800-MHz frequency bands. The high-speed system involved laying more than 5 miles of high-capacity optical fiber.
This contract is Pinnacle’s sixth project at the World Trade Center site since 2005, each of which uses Axell Wireless equipment. In addition to the Transportation Hub, Pinnacle and Five Star have been awarded similar contracts for the National September 11th Museum & Memorial, World Trade Center Pavilion, World Trade Center Central Chiller Plant and World Trade Center Building 7.
In March, a public safety system was deployed at One World Trade Center using passive DAS equipment by Axell Wireless. The $11.8 million contract to integrate the system was awarded to a joint venture between TechMer and North American Mobile Systems. The contract includes engineering, design, furnishing, delivery, installation, testing and commissioning of the first responders communications system.
Axell Wireless’ in-building wireless system will be integrated into the site-wide system in the event of an emergency. Each of the 11 buildings in the World Trade Center complex bids out the DAS contracts separately. DAS at World Trade Center Four is currently being bid, and the in-building network at World Trade Center Seven has not yet been built.
The systems will support New York City Police, Transit Police, Fire Department of New York, Homeland Security, and other federal and state organizations.
Business is booming for Boingo Wireless’ DAS networks. It won more contracts to install, manage and operate DAS systems in the first quarter of this year than it did throughout last year.
What’s behind Boingo’s DAS success? Company officials say the secret is Wi-Fi.
“A lot of our success in Q1 was driven by the fact that we do incorporate Wi-Fi into a lot of the networks we build,” Doug Lodder, Boingo vice president, business development, told AGL Small Cell Link. “We don’t look at a network as either DAS or Wi-Fi. It is simply a network, and when you view it that way you realize you can add value on many fronts, whether it is cellular or Wi-Fi offload.” Comprehensive networks must be built that meet the needs of the carriers, the venue and the users, he added, and users don’t know or care if they are on Wi-Fi or cellular.
In the last few months, Boingo signed agreements with three universities, an NBA sports arena, two multi-use sports and convention complexes, a major domestic airport and the largest airport in Latin America.
Contracts were announced with John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif.; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.; EnergySolutions Arena, home of the Utah Jazz, Salt Lake City; two airports in Dubai; University of Houston Stadium, which is still under construction; Phillips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks and the Dream; and Sao Paulo International Airport.
In addition to the new DAS contracts, Boingo added almost 1,000 DAS nodes with the launch of service at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Nebraska and at the University of Arizona, bringing its total nodes to 7,300 or a 16 percent increase quarter over quarter.
Also catching fire during first quarter was the Hotspot 2.0 standard, known as Next Generation Hotspot, which automatically connects a mobile device to a hotspot as it comes near. The standard will make Wi-Fi more similar to cellular, thus promoting its marriage with DAS.
In September 2013, Boingo launched a Hotspot 2.0 test bed in Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The testing went so well that Boingo decided to rollout Hotspot 2.0 networks with its partners in 23 of its 75 airports, including John F. Kennedy International, Los Angeles International, Logan International and Midway International.
“Much like a DAS network is invisible to the user, Hotspot 2.0 makes Wi-Fi connecting just as seamless,” Boingo CEO David Hagan said during the company’s first quarter 2014 earnings call. “This provides a tremendous user experience as it is usually connected before the user is even aware the network is available.”
Boingo worked with Wireless Broadband Alliance and the Wi-Fi Alliance on standards for several years.
“We had a hand in pushing the Hotspot 2.0 specs and Next Generation Hotspots standard out of the lab into the public domain,” said Katie O’Neill, Boingo director, communications. “Handsets that are Hotspot 2.0 capable are still relatively limited in the number of models on the market. Boingo’s Hotspot 2.0 airports currently support iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches with iOS 7, as well as Macintosh laptops running OS X Mavericks with a Passpoint profile installed, and will soon be available for other operating systems.”
Another initiative gaining momentum is the “Comes with Boingo” product, whereby companies can provide their customers with complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi service on their handsets. Last year, Samsung began offering complimentary Boingo accounts for the purchase of select Android devices through its Galaxy Perks program. This year, American Express announced that it’s offering this benefit to Platinum card members on a global basis.
Echoing the old saying that some people make it happen, some watch it happen and others wonder what happened, Nick Hulse, Boingo Wireless president, encouraged the audience to get involved in Wi-Fi in his keynote address, Oct. 8, at PCIA’s Wireless Infrastructure Show in Hollywood, Fla.
“The current market conditions and forecasts of future conditions all dictate a convergence in Wi-Fi and in DAS,” Hulse said. “Having both DAS and Wi-Fi in a venue assures connectivity to almost any device and allows cost management by the carriers.”
Hulse said Boingo Wireless was attending PCIA because of the importance to the wireless infrastructure industry of small cells for dealing with device and capacity issues in venues. He quoted reports by comScore and ABI Research that showed Wi-Fi-enabled devices totaling 5 billion at the end of 2012, with projections of 20 billion devices by the end of 2017.
“It is an important time to figure out your commitment to Wi-Fi,” he said. “Are you going to get involved in creating higher capacity indoor networks, and what are you doing to create a better customer experience? Can you get your arms around how not to get left behind?”
The trend that tower owners should find most disturbing is the proliferation of tablets that are Wi-Fi-only, with no chipsets, data plans or relationships with the carriers, according to Hulse.
“You might ask, `Aren’t things working out right now the way they are?’ Maybe not,” he said. “The Wi-Fi-only iPad is one of the top sellers. Is this the beginning of a trend? We will see.”
Hulse was not afraid to drop names as he talked up Wi-Fi. Several companies that are hetnet “doers,” he said, include Ericsson, KDDI, China Telecom and CISCO. Those companies will all profit first and the most, according to Hulse.
“It is pretty clear that with the proliferation of the devices and the demands of the network, no carrier is going to be able to carry it all,” he said. “The game has changed; layered architectures are needed. Everything from macrocells to femtocells to Wi-Fi has to come together to provide the seamless service to the end consumer.”
Next Generation Hotspots
Boingo Wireless has launched the world’s first commercial Next Generation Hotspot Wi-Fi network at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, which uses the PassPoint standard. Hulse invited the audience to take part in the end-to-end testing of the network, which allows automatic identification, authentication and encryption.
Hulse said several OEMs are leading the way in NGH protocol technology, such as Samsung, which embeds a year of free Boingo service in its Galaxy product. More than 50 percent of Apple 5 users opted for NGH. He also mentioned Google’s deal to be the wireless provider for Starbucks and CISCO’s deal with Facebook.