Comms chips

In-Building Set to Boom

The market for in-building wireless systems looks set for a prosperous future as carriers and end users ramp up demand for improved network coverage, according to the results of Unstrung’s latest poll: In-Building Wireless: Shaping Up?.

Once regarded as a wireless ghetto populated only with low-profile network deployments, demand for kit capable of extending network coverage into hard-to-reach urban and indoor locations may be on the verge of mainstream success.

Half of respondents expect the market to show greatest growth “in the next 1 to 2 years” as carriers realize the extent of their revenue losses from today’s patchy coverage. A further 42 percent argue that “2 to 5 years” is a more realistic time frame for mass deployment.

Only 8 percent believe the market will take longer than 5 years to boom.

Carriers and end users are considered most likely to drive demand for in-building kit (39 and 36 percent, respectively), leaving equipment vendors to take a more reactive approach to rollout.

Despite this viewpoint, the availability of “cheap(ish)” vendor kit from the likes of Andrew Corp. (Nasdaq: ANDW), AirWalk Communications Inc., and ip.access Ltd. is deemed the key factor in future market growth (63 percent).

Meanwhile, enterprises and campus locations get the nod as favored "dead spot" locations for network deployment (50 percent), followed by public venues such as subway systems and shopping malls (34 percent), and city-center hot zones where cells have been overloaded with subscribers (16 percent).

On a technical note, 33 percent of respondents expect “pico cells with IP back-haul over Ethernet or DSL” to be the technology of choice for the in-building market. Traditional pico base stations connect via a TDM (time-division multiplexing) interface to the rest of the network over a dedicated T1/E1 line, which often costs more than the additional revenue generated by that cell site, as noted in an Unstrung Insider report earlier this year (see In-Building Shapes Up?).

Looking onwards and upwards, our July poll examines whether wireless LAN services on planes will ever be more than a costly gimmick for business-class propeller-heads. Have your say here: WiFi in the Sky: Will It Fly?.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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