More wireless carriers are looking to deploy small cells and Distributed Antenna Systems in urban markets to augment network capacity, yet according to executives at DAS and small cell firm ExteNet Systems, municipalities often create hurdles that make installations difficult. Because of this installers must coordinate with city governments to make sure all city rules and regulations are being followed and that the deployment can be accomplished quickly and efficiently.
Crown Castle sees significant potential in continued small cell deployments, while American Tower is more focused on Distributed Antenna Systems and SBA Communications doesn't see small cells fitting much into its portfolio. Those were some of the key takeaways from public appearances last week by the three tower companies' CEOs.
Wireless operators will triple the number of distributed antenna systems (DAS) in service between 2015 and 2018, according to a study from technology research firm IHS, which interviewed 16 of the top 20 telecom operators globally that operate DAS systems.
Verizon Wireless has inked a deal with Transit Wireless to deploy Phase 4 and Phase 5 of the company's wireless services in the New York subway system. Verizon is just one of many operators seeking to improve wireless coverage in subway systems across the country.
Verizon has deployed nearly 50 small cells in the Pittsburgh area. The deployment includes 15 cells in the Pittsburgh metro area. Crown Castle is handling the majority of the deployment with some assistance from ExteNet.
Digital Bridge Holdings and StonePeak Infrastructure Partners have committed to more than $1 billion in a recapitalization of ExteNet Systems. The two firms will acquire the interests of existing investors plus provide added capital to grow the company and enable it to pursue small cell deployment opportunities.
Verizon Wireless is currently deploying 4x4 MIMO (multiple input and multiple output) technology, involving 4 transmitters and 4 receivers, which the carrier said should enhance both its coverage and improve its LTE network performance. Mike Haberman, Verizon's VP of network support, also said the operator is actively deploying carrier aggregation technology in its 20x20 MHz spectrum channels and expects the effort will allow it to offer spectrum channels wider than a 20x20 MHz configuration in the future, which Haberman said would allow Verizon to offer faster peak wireless download speeds in the future.
Verizon Wireless is not desperate for low-band spectrum and does not necessarily need to secure a trove of airwaves in next year's incentive auction of 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum, according to Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo. The company may participate in the auction, but in the meantime, it is focused on densifying its network through small cells and refarming some of its 1900 MHz PCS spectrum.
Software solutions firm iBwave claims that a tier-1 operator using the company's in-building planning software to engineer its small cell network has been able to reduce its planning and design time by 10 hours and reduce site survey time by four hours. The network is in a warehouse of a U.S. retailer.
Westell Technologies introduced the ClearLink DAS, a distributed antenna system that the company says can solve the "near-far" issue. In other words, when a device gets a data signal from a DAS and a simultaneous signal from a distant macro tower, performance can be degraded.