In-building connectivity 101: DAS, CBRS and LP-WAN covered the reasons why these three aforementioned technologies are great candidates to help solve building connectivity issues. Here we discuss key trends that are shaping the development of DAS, CBRS and LP-WAN.
In order for building owners to meet the demands of companies in the Industry 4.0 era, comprehensive in-building connectivity will be required. It will be required to support a myriad of digital economy enablers, including IoT, artificial intelligence, and cloud connectvity, just to name a few. Here are the key developments in DAS, CBRS and LP-WAN connectivity solutions that will help building owners to meet these rapidly evolving demands.
- Virtualization – Referring to moving network functions from dedicated hardware to software-centric general purpose hardware, the concept has a number of key implications for the commercial real estate market. First off, the ability to leverage low-cost hardware helps building owners to cope with variable capacity demands based on fluctuating tenant occupancy. Similarly, it also allows building owners to be more responsive to changes in the connectivity requirements of tenants as their own businesses evolve.
- C-RAN – Centralized RAN architectures provide building owners with greater degree of deployment flexibility for antennas or remote radio heads. In turn, this allows infrastructure architects to better design in-building networks that can cover “dead zones” and other hard to reach areas of a building. It also helps building owners to better leverage investments in fiber backbone architectures throughout their structures.
- Fiber-centric architectures – Hand in glove with the previous point, fiber-fed DAS systems are being seen as a way for building owners to protect their investments in next-generation communications architectures. As the digital economy will foster increasing reliance on IoT and AI/ML-fueled automation, the connectivity and capacity requirements of an in-building network will also increase. Fiber is a way to ensure that a DAS system installed today has the ability to meet capacity demands in the future without requiring expensive iterative investements in the proverbial “plumbing”.
- Spectrum licenses – With spectrum licensing schemes in the 3.5GHz band approved by the FCC, a major structural hurdle to CBRS commercialization has been removed. To this end, industry advocacy groups such as the CBRS Alliance and its ecosystem of members are moving forward with commercialization initiatives as quickly as possible.
- OnGo certification programs – A continuation of the previous point, the CBRS Alliance has created training, certification and deployment programs under the OnGo moniker to help systematize the process for commercializing CBRS products, and then taking them to market. This could be a valuable step in accelerating CBRS deployments as a material deployment inhibitor in the early stages of a technology commercialization effort is often the lack of structure for ecosystem stakeholders to rely on and/or refer to as products are first brought to market.
- Preparing for commercial deployments – With spectrum licensing programs largely sorted out, and the OnGo certification program in place, a few large-scale trials and/or deployments have been announced by the likes of Verizon and the owners of Dallas Love Field. While these deployments will focus on very large venues, as opposed to self-contained commerical office buildings, they should nonetheless provide valuable proof points that could help spur further deployment activity.
- IoT-powered business transformation – While we are still far from the predictions of tens and hundreds of billions of connected devices coming to fruition, connected workplace use cases are maturing. As this happens, deployments will proliferate. Across a range of industries including manufacturing, automotive, healthcare, oil and gas, and smart utilities, using IoT to connect machines to machines, humans to machines and humans to to other humans is begining to take root. As this happens, LP-WAN will continue to grow as not only a WAN solution, but also as an in-building connectivity solution.
- Ecosystem momentum – While a few of more popular LP-WAN connectivity technologies are known simply by the company that makes the equipment (i.e., SigFox and Ingenu), the Semtech-sponsored LoRA alliance is a large and growing ecosystem of LP-WAN stakeholders that numbers more than 500 members. Per Semtech, the LoRA alliance has grown by double digits several years running, and now counts deployments in more than 95 countries.
- Rising tide lifts all boats – Admittedly, in the in-building connectivity space, DAS and, increasingly, CBRS have dominated the headlines. However, IoT is starting to fuel awareness of the need for pervasive in-building connectivity is becoming more of a priority with building owners. As this happens, an all hands on deck approach will be needed. To this end, LP-WAN stand to benefit proportionally with the need to support IoT within commercial real estate structures.
For further reading on the subject please see:
- Feature Report: Can DAS, CBRS, Licensed Cellular and Proprietary LP-WAN Solve In-Building Connectivity?
- Smart Buildings 101: How connected is connected enough?
- In-building connectivity 101: DAS, CBRS and LP-WAN
- Industry 4.0 and the virtuous circle of IoT and in-building tech
- ROI vs NOI: Why should CRE invest in building automation?