Zinwave announced the availability of a system architecture that supports indoor 5G networks and Open-RAN capability at MWC19 Barcelona last week, which will require minimal deployment time regardless of which spectrum (low, mid or millimeter wave) is used.
O-RAN, short for Open Radio Access Network, is a developing open source technology that has the potential to allow building owners to use any operator-approved radio base stations to bring connectivity indoors. Thus, O-RAN will allow end users to source a full end-to-end solution from a single party.
Solving for the base station is the final piece of Zinwave’s DAS, which provides all components and support necessary for indoor wireless connectivity. The overall system is highly hardware efficient due to its ability to provide full spectrum support on a single layer.
Zinwave’s all fiber, all-active at the edge DAS solution provides seamless integration of mid-spectrum in the 3.5 GHz to 6 GHz and millimeter wave ranges in which the end users bear the cost and disruption of cabling infrastructure only once.
When any rule or regulation — from the highest law of the land on down — lacks unified standards or clearly defined guidelines, confusion and conflict soon follow. Anyone who has played a board game with someone who uses their own rules has no doubt experienced this, hopefully with grace and good cheer. But when the stakes are higher, the resulting turmoil has widespread implications.
That is the situation we have at present with public safety wireless communications. We have no nationwide standards — only a jumble of local standards and frequency bands (VHF, UHF, 800 P25). But over the next decade, that is all going to change.
The first standardized nationwide emergency responder network from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will use LTE high-speed wireless data communications technology in the 700-MHz frequency band and will eventually supplant the use of existing public safety frequencies. The FirstNet network soon will become available for use. This is a good thing, on the surface, but there are already challenges that will be caused by the network’s deployment.
New Opportunity, New Challenges
Initially, the FirstNet network will be deployed as a macro network. Although signals on FirstNet’s dedicated frequency, 700 MHz penetrate buildings better than signals at some higher frequencies, many midsize and large buildings will not be able to obtain the usable signal strength needed for indoor penetration and coverage.
Although the FirstNet network represents an attempt to unify the national public safety communications infrastructure, it doesn’t initially address specific in-building wireless communications needs. Despite the current use of lower frequencies (150 MHz to 850 MHz) to support public safety radios, many buildings experience insufficient radio coverage. Even at these low frequencies, building construction materials can block outdoor radio signals from penetrating indoors.
Underground areas, such as basements or tunnels, are impossible to cover from the outside, and energy-efficient buildings with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification that use low-emission windows that block exterior cell signals make matters worse. LEED-certified buildings already enclose 2.5 billion square feet, and approximately 45 percent of nonresidential building construction this year will be green (environmentally responsible and resource-efficient).
Many local governments mandate the use of in-building wireless communications systems for public safety wireless communications systems in buildings over a certain size, but even existing systems will be in for a revamp as the FirstNet network comes online.
In many instances, it will be necessary to rip out and replace existing public safety (or even commercial, in some cases) in-building wireless systems to facilitate the support of the network — and that means buildings need a system that works not just now, but well into the future.
Solving Challenges with DAS
A DAS network is one option for public safety agencies and building owners to use to ensure that they are ready for the FirstNet network and ready to meet current challenges of indoor coverage.
DAS comprises cabling, small remote units and antennas that are distributed throughout a building and linked to a central distribution hub. This hub in turn connects to the RF source used by the mobile operators. Through a DAS, the wireless signal is distributed to all parts of the building.
Because the signal used to support a DAS is separate from outdoor cellular towers, capacity is dedicated to the building, and because the cellular signal brought into the building is operator-provided and operator-supported, users receive a guaranteed level of service, as opposed to unguaranteed performance of a voice-over-Wi-Fi service, for example. Plus, calls can seamlessly hand off from the inside network to the outside network as users move from the inside to the outside of the building.
Six Qualities of a FirstNet DAS
When buying or upgrading an in-building wireless communications system to a DAS, make sure it has the basic functionality for use with the FirstNet network.
First, it should support 700-MHz FirstNet frequencies while still supporting existing cellular and internet of things (IoT) frequencies. In addition to the current lack of a unified standard, public safety wireless communications systems vary by city and county across the nation. Some systems use 150-MHz and 450-MHz frequencies (which penetrate buildings well), while others use 800-MHz frequencies (which do not).
A building might be using 150 MHz, 450 MHz or 800 MHz today, but when the FirstNet network arrives, the building will have to transition to 700-MHz frequency bands. It is probable that all these frequency bands will be in use until the complete FirstNet transition occurs, which may take several years.
A truly wideband DAS can support any frequency from 150 MHz to 2700 MHz. So it could support many different frequencies with a single layer of equipment, including the 700-MHz FirstNet network, as well as seamlessly supporting future services with no need for additional hardware, such as cabling or remote antenna units. This will simplify both deployment and maintenance while keeping costs down.
Second, it should use fiber infrastructure. Different fire jurisdictions mandate either coaxial cabling or fiber as the transport layer of a public safety wireless communications system. Although most public safety systems today employ coaxial cable, as commercial networks evolve toward fiber, and as FirstNet LTE can be most efficiently deployed on the same layer as commercial LTE, a public safety transition to more fiber is natural. Fiber ensures high signal quality and strength at each remote unit and often can make use of existing spare fiber in a building to connect the public safety wireless system.
Third, it must comply with fire, life and safety standards.DAS components should be certified for use in public safety deployments by the National Fire Protection Association and should comply with various international fire codes. They should be protected bythe appropriate enclosures to shieldremote units from dust, smoke and ash.
Fourth, it should offer a low total cost of ownership. Although a public safety wireless communications system is typically in the budget for new building construction, existing buildings will have to retrofit these systems to support FirstNet frequencies, and they will have to find the money to pay for them. Combined with the previously mentioned synergies with commercial deployments, it can further reduce the costs of deploying the FirstNet network.
Fifth, it must offer symmetrical performance. First responders must have a clear, strong signal wherever they are in a structure, especially in places where signal is not typically critical for commercial users, such as in stairwells and elevator banks. A DAS must provide a uniformly strong signal at every antenna.
Sixth, it must be future-ready.A DAS shouldsupport today’s and tomorrow’s public safety frequencies. Users should not have to install special remote units or modules to support one frequency or another, or upgrade remote units when the FirstNet network comes.
Moving Closer to FirstNet
The FirstNet network represents both a challenge and an opportunity. Many in-building wireless communications systems will have to be upgraded or deployed — some existing systems support other frequencies but not the new 700-MHz FirstNet frequencies, and some buildings lack any kind of indoor coverage.
There is a positive angle, however. As building owners begin looking at the technologies that will allow them to support the FirstNet network and comply with regulations, they have a chance to deploy a single, converged in-building wireless communications system that supports all wireless traffic.
Although the FirstNet network will take several years to roll out, getting ready now with a future-ready, full-spectrum in-building DAS is a must for ensuring clear and consistent radio coverage for both building occupants and first responders, both now and years down the line.
James Martin is vice president of operations at Zinwave.
Zinwave is piloting private LTE cellular deployments with several Fortune 100 customers, using its OnGo DAS system, the company announced at the Connectivity Expo, Connect (x), conducted by the Wireless Infrastructure Association in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“This is a groundbreaking announcement because it will illustrate real-world use cases of companies using OnGo to create a private cellular network, which is something that most companies have only theorized about doing,” Scott Willis, Zinwave’s president and CEO said. “OnGo works on the unlicensed CBRS band 48. This means customers can set up their own private cellular networks and use the same LTE technology used by the operators, which is critical for the adoption and growth of IoT applications.”
In-building wireless connectivity supplier Zinwave displayed its fiber-based, full-spectrum-enabled technology designed to empower the wireless frequencies of the future. Willis said that Zinwave’s solution is a DAS that guarantees quality cellular connectivity indoors, and Zinwave’s DAS solution is the only one that can cover all carrier, public safety frequencies and private LTE spectrum.
Zinwave’s UNItivity 5000 DAS solution consists of a primary hub, which is a space- and energy-efficient unit installed in the network closet, according to Willis. The network also consists of an RF base station, fiber-optic cabling, optional secondary hubs (which are even more compact) and remote units. Additionally, with only five total components, Zinwave’s UNItivity 5000 has easy, Wi-Fi-like installation.
The customers piloting OnGo include the biggest names in consumer electronics, aviation and automotive manufacturing, according to Willis. Any enterprise vertical, including CREs, health care, airports, public venues, university and hospitality, is a potential customer.
“All businesses should be thinking strategically about how to create private network environments that position their organizations to remain competitive,” Willis said. “To take full advantage of the economic benefits of IoT applications, enterprises must consider the mobile platform best suited to enable their business-critical solutions. This includes businesses that need a better than Wi-Fi connection for maximized efficiency, businesses that need an extra layer of security for improved protection and businesses that need the highest quality mobile service within a private environment for optimal productivity.”
Speaking about the kind of technology the Zinwave technology replaces and the advantage the Zinwave technology offers compared with the technology otherwise in use today, Willis said that Zinwave provides a wireless connectivity layer that ensures high-quality cellular and public safety connectivity. With the addition of OnGo (private LTE), Zinwave DAS could potentially replace Wi-Fi where reliability and security are necessary for business-critical applications, he said.
“OnGo offers a best-in-class quality of service for businesses that need to function at maximum productivity,” Willis said. “With ever-increasing growth, adoption and value being driven by connectivity demands, such as IoT applications, Wi-Fi won’t be able to meet the increasing demand for fast and reliable bandwidth.”
Willis said that the future of the wireless landscape is difficult to predict, which is why Zinwave created a wideband DAS solution that covers all commonly used carriers’ public safety and OnGo frequencies on one hardware layer. Changes in wireless frequencies can be done through a software update (often remotely through Zinwave’s network operations center), instead of having to purchase additional hardware.
“Regarding the future of OnGo specifically, OnGo holds tremendous promise for the enterprise,” Willis said. “Taking full advantage of IoT technology will require businesses to deploy higher quality networks than what Wi-Fi can provide, and be seamlessly interoperable with commercial cellular and public safety frequencies.”
Executive Editor and Associate Publisher
Don Bishop joined AGL Media Group in 2004. He helped to launch and was the founding editor of AGL Magazine, the AGL Bulletinemail newsletter (now AGL eDigest) and DAS and Small Cells magazine (now AGL Small Cell Magazine). He served as host for AGL Conferences from 2010 to 2012, appearing at 12 conferences. Bishop writes and otherwise obtains editorial content published in AGL Magazine, AGL eDigest and the AGL Media Group website. Bishop also photographs and films conferences and conventions. Many of his photographs have appeared on the cover, in articles and in the “AGL Tower of the Month” center spread photo feature in AGL Magazine. During his time with Wiesner Publishing, Primedia Business Information and AGL Media Group, he helped to launch several magazines and edited or managed editorial departments for a dozen magazines and their associated websites, newsletters and live event coverage. He is a former property manager, radio station owner and CEO of a broadcast engineering consulting firm. He was elected a Fellow of the Radio Club of America in 1988, received its Presidents Award in 1993, and served on its board of directors for nine years. Don Bishop may be contacted at: [email protected]
A wave of DAS systems for in-building use is making a splash at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, this week, as the wireless industry continues to try to break into the enterprise space. The new products feature all-digital technology and 100-percent fiber optics, as well as virtualization and centralized RANs. The products are also smaller and use less electricity.
Among the OEMs showing off new products are CommScope with its Era all-digital C-RAN antenna system, Zinwave with its UNItivity 5000 DAS solution and JMA Wireless with its XRAN fully-virtualized adaptive baseband software. Additionally, Cobham Wireless has integrated vRAN (virtualized radio access networks) capabilities into its idDAS (intelligent digital DAS).
OEMs are expanding their market from wireless users to include serve the internet of things and smart buildings applications, as well as public safety. But there are many impediments to DAS in the enterprise. One of them being price. The latest wave of DAS equipment is smaller and less expensive. According to Josh Adelson, marketing director, CommScope, DAS is following the same trends occurring in the outdoor wireless space.
“It’s about finding a way to deliver in-building wireless in a way that is consistent with the approach the operators are taking,” Adelson said. “The main technical step forward is allowing the signal source to be located in the operator’s C-RAN rather than in the building.”
DAS OEMs are also taking using virtualization to replicate the features of a proprietary base station in software that is run on a commercially available hardware platform.
CommScope Era is an all-digital C-RAN antenna system that leverages wireless operators’ initiatives to centralize and virtualize baseband radio assets. The centralized headend serves multiple buildings, as well as tapping capacity from existing C-RAN hubs.
“The C-RAN allows an operator to manage a pool of resources within its own facility and allocate them on a dynamic basis, as well as to easily maintain them,” Adelson said. “From the building owner’s point of view, not having the head-end within their facility allows them to lease out the space the headend would have inhabited.”
Era features a new family of access points that are available in a range of power levels, with copper and fiber connectivity and outdoor and plenum ratings, to serve a wide variety of venue types. It supports interleaved MIMO (multiple input/multiple output).
For more information on the Era, CLICK HERE
Zinwave has enhanced the energy efficiency of the UNItivity solutions’ hardware. Depending on the scope and complexity of the DAS configuration, an enterprise may see up to 17 percent energy savings.
Another update to UNItivity 5000 is the redesign of the secondary hub that adds 80 percent space savings in the IT closet. The streamlined design also integrates the power supply unit into the hub itself, which aids IT staff in procuring an external power supply while providing additional space savings.
“We are driving toward simplicity, improving aesthetics, lower total cost of ownership,” said Slavko Djukic, Zinwave Chief Technology Officer. “When you look at the total cost of ownership model including power usage and space usage, we believe we have made some significant improvements.”
For more information about the UNItivity 5000, CLICK HERE
JMA Wireless has virtualized 100 percent of its RAN with software with the XRAN Adaptive Baseband, which provides all of the RAN functions necessary for LTE mobile and IoT connectivity.
“Full virtualization of the entire stack has been elusive due to the complexity of the technology,” said Joe Madden, president of Mobile Experts. “XRAN has delivered full virtualization and gives operators a more flexible, low-cost platform they can control. This opens the door for MNOs and enterprises – providing an opportunity for enterprises to invest in solutions to provide coverage for their venues.”
The XRAN software platform integrates with the TEKO RF Distribution platform via high capacity digital fiber connectivity, eliminating layers of analog equipment and cabling and reducing the footprint, power and cooling requirements.
“Cost, simplicity, footprint, power, and cooling changes dramatically with XRAN,” said Todd Landry, VP of product and market strategy at JMA Wireless. “XRAN is designed from its inception to close the gap between rapidly growing in-building mobile connectivity demands and today’s complex, proprietary hardware solutions unable to evolve and adapt for multi-operator services.”
For more information about XRAN, CLICK HERE
Cobham Wireless as designed the next generation of the intelligent digital DAS (idDAS) with a direct connection to the network core and virtualized capabilities. The latest idDAS supports both C-RAN architectures and vRAN architectures, replacing baseband units with commercial off-the-shelf technology and virtualized software.
“Operators are facing a capacity challenge, and with more people using high-bandwidth services and the number of IoT applications growing, this will only increase,” said Rami Hasarchi, VP Coverage, Cobham Wireless. “Virtualising the RAN for in-building coverage offers the ideal solution to this problem, maximizing spectrum efficiency and end-user experience, while vastly reducing running costs.”
For more information about the idDAS CLICKE HERE
July 13, 2017 —
In March, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) awarded AT&T a contract to build the first nationwide public safety broadband network for emergency first responders. The network will use Long Term Evolution (LTE) high-speed wireless data technology on frequencies in the 700-MHz band. Eventually, the network will supplant the use of existing public safety frequencies. As the FirstNet network evolves, public agencies and building owners will have to assume the burden of bringing network coverage indoors at venues so first-responder radios will work in all locations. In many instances, jurisdictions will require in-building coverage. The following information explains the convergence of public safety frequencies in connection with the new FirstNet standard and the requirements for systems that support the network’s wireless coverage inside buildings.
Despite the current use of lower frequencies in the range of 150 MHz to 900 MHz to support public safety radios, the in-building coverage challenge remains unsolved. Even at these low frequencies, building construction materials can block outdoor radio signals from penetrating indoors. Underground areas, such as basements, are impossible to cover from the outside; outdoor radios dominate the airwaves; and energy-efficient, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings make matters worse. In the United States, LEED-certified buildings enclose 2.5 billion square feet, and this year, approximately 45 percent of nonresidential building construction will be green (environmentally friendly).
As a result, in-building wireless systems are a must for ensuring clear and consistent radio coverage for building occupants and first responders. Many local governments mandate the use of in-building wireless systems for public safety systems in buildings larger than a certain size, but even existing systems will be in for a revamp as the FirstNet network comes online.
Existing public safety networks and radios operate in several public safety radio communications frequency bands, including the 150-MHz, 450-MHz and 800/900-MHz bands. In effect, the United States is a patchwork quilt of public safety communication networks. With the advent of the FirstNet public safety broadband network, these will all begin to converge around 700-MHz LTE. LTE is now the dominant technology used in commercial cellular networks, but a lot of work is being done to further make use of LTE’s benefits. The results also will affect FirstNet LTE.
For example, mobile operators are always looking for more radio-frequency spectrum to expand bandwidth and provide their users with faster throughput. Once they have derived all the capacity they can with new cell sites, sector-splitting and carrier aggregation, the next thing is to consider using unlicensed spectrum to further expand available bandwidth. LTE in unlicensed spectrum (LTE-U), licensed-assisted access (LAA), and MulteFire computer software and firmware offer ways to use unlicensed spectrum that will deliver bandwidth more from current technology.
LTE-U protocol enables mobile operators to increase bandwidth in their LTE networks by using the unlicensed frequency bands in the 5-Hz range — bands that Wi-Fi devices also use. Licensed-assisted access is the name given to the Third-Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) effort to standardize the use of LTE in Wi-Fi frequency bands. LTE-U is an implementation of LAA. The MulteFire LTE technology developed by Qualcomm operates solely in unlicensed spectrum and uses self-organizing functionality; LAA aggregates unlicensed spectrum with an anchor in licensed spectrum.
Unlicensed LTE protocols will play a significant role in boosting LTE bandwidth and throughput while serving as a key component for connecting the internet of things (IoT). Ideally, in order to speed deployment and deliver an economical solution, public safety, wireless IoT devices, and cellular services will all operate on a converged network (see Figure 1).
FirstNet’s public safety broadband network will make use of the same LTE network, so it’s possible that, in some cases, the 700-MHz public safety frequency may already be supported by some in-building wireless systems (although the frequencies used for the FirstNet network are not the same as the 700-MHz frequencies in use by cellular carriers today, so this would be true in a limited number of cases). In many instances, however, it will be necessary to rip and replace existing in-building wireless systems to facilitate the support of the FirstNet network.
What does this all mean for those considering buying or upgrading an in-building wireless system? There are three basic requirements:
1. Support 700-MHz FirstNet frequencies while still supporting existing cellular and IoT frequencies. Ideally, the solution should support public safety, cellular and IoT frequencies in a single system. This will simplify both deployment and maintenance, while keeping costs down. A truly wideband distributed antenna system (DAS) can support any frequency from 150 MHz to 2700 MHz, so it could support many different frequencies with a single layer of equipment, including 700-MHz FirstNet communications. And, this solution could seamlessly support future services.
2. Use fiber infrastructure. Many current DAS solutions use coaxial cabling or a hybrid architecture that combines fiber and coax cabling. An all-fiber infrastructure is easier and less costly to deploy, and often it can make use of fiber-optic cable already in place in the building.
3. Have a simple architecture. Many DAS products have a dizzying array of parts because of their inherently narrowband architecture, making it difficult for information technology (IT) staff to both deploy and maintain them. Building owners and contractors should look for DAS solutions that mirror IT data infrastructure with a limited number of system elements so it is familiar and easy to understand.
Meeting the FirstNet Challenge
The move toward FirstNet public safety infrastructure represents both a challenge and an opportunity for building owners. The challenge is that many in-building wireless systems will have to be upgraded or deployed because some existing systems support other frequencies, but not the 700-MHz frequencies the new FirstNet network will use, and some buildings lack any kind of indoor coverage solution. But the good news is that the need to support the new public safety broadband network offers the chance to deploy a single, converged in-building wireless system that supports all wireless traffic. The FirstNet network will take several years to roll out. It is not too early now to begin planning how to support it.
James Martin is vice president of operations at Zinwave. Prior to joining Zinwave, Martin was senior manager at TE Connectivity (formerly ADC/LGC Wireless) for more than 16 years. His leadership helped TE Connectivity emerge as a top-tier DAS manufacturer in the wireless space. Early in his career, he was employed at Hughes Network Systems and was responsible for the design, deployment and optimization of more than 500 macro cell sites across the southeastern United States. During this time, he was also instrumental in defining the first small cell systems designed and deployed by Hughes Network Systems. Contact James Martin at [email protected]