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Errors to avoid when deploying distributed antenna systems and small cells

Kelley Carr, Senior VP of Enterprise DAS Solutions, Goodman Networks | Feb. 7, 2014
Successfully extending cellular coverage inside buildings requires careful analysis. Here's how to avoid the traps.

The ubiquitous nature of wireless connectivity doesn't make it any easier for enterprises to implement their own solutions. The alphabet soup of technology choices related to Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and small cells can be intimidating even for the most seasoned IT managers weighing the investment, security implications and the consequences of a planning blunder.

Despite the risks, the importance of successful wireless deployment and strategy continues to drive business leaders to find the right solution. In 2013 alone, US spending on DAS technologies was up 30% according to research firm Mobile Experts. And it shows no signs of slowing, with TheInfoPro Wave 10 Networking study calling for 38% of enterprises to boost their wireless spending next year.

As wireless spending increases, so does the number of missteps enterprises are making as they find their way through this complex maze. Regardless of whether an enterprise is starting from scratch or making incremental improvements to existing wireless infrastructure, the options seem infinite.  While there are several "right" answers in terms of how to go about an enterprise-wide deployment, to ensure the highest level of success (and the least amount of disruption), these are a few things to avoid:    

Error No. 1: Proceeding without a Professional Wireless Needs Assessment
The "coverage" side of the equation is a pretty straight-forward determination. Deciding where to place the infrastructure needed to enable the coverage is not.  For example, in-building wireless systems that can support licensed frequencies have significant space and infrastructure requirements. It is not uncommon for the head end space requirement to be 150 to 200 square feet per carrier. Additionally, planning for the power, heating, ventilation and air conditioning access and T-1 connectivity will prove to be the essential factors to a successful deployment. Combined these factors will have a huge impact on the overall scope of the project, particularly if architecture or aesthetics need to be considered.

Error No. 2: Failing to Engage Wireless Service Providers (WSP) Early in the Process
If the deployment requires the use of licensed frequencies, the wireless service provider owning the license not only needs to be involved, but will also need to approve the installation. Early-engagement with the WSP is critical to ensure that blow through established timelines and budgets and, in some cases, the WSP can even provide funding for the system.

Similarly, while the WSP will review and approve the system design and make recommendations for system installers and integrators, it is wise to work with vendors already familiar with carrier's existing requirements and guidelines to minimize time and project delays.

Error No. 3: Thinking Only About Today
In 2011, Gartner predicted that 80% of newly installed wireless networks will be obsolete in 2015 because of a lack of proper planning. If that prediction holds even remotely true, many CIOs and network operators should be concerned about future-proofing their deployments to avoid having to tell their bosses that after only a few years, their sizable investment no longer sufficiently meets the company's needs.  


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