Investment in indoor coverage solutions to boom

Jio 4G Wi-Fi
Will telecom network operators enhance investment in technologies that can boost in-building coverage in rural and urban areas in India?

Telecom regulator TRAI’s consultation paper on June 6, 2016 will be paving the way for fresh Capex in indoor coverage, telecom analysts said.

ALSO READ: TRAI steps in to improve in-building coverage

Currently, several telecom operators are trying to share the investment in indoor coverage with enterprises and neutral vendors. ABI Research says telecoms-led share in in-building wireless deployments will drop to less than 29 percent by 2020 from more than 47 percent today. Third-party / neutral host share will be increasing to hold a majority share and venue-led to 17 percent.

Telecoms indoor push

Indian telecom network operators such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have started making Capex (capital expenditure) allocation for enhancing indoor coverage in select parts of the country. Since India has more than 900 million mobile subscribers, telecoms’ investment in indoor technologies is not adequate.

Announcing the Rs 60,000 crore investments in 3 years, Bharti Airtel last year said it will deploy a range of solutions including small cells, carrier aggregation solutions, Wi-Fi and the use of multiple technologies across different spectrum bands to enhance indoor experience in every city.

Vodafone India has recently made investments in installing 8 additional telecom network sites at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to improve connectivity and support the requirements of the visitors.

Idea Cellular is making investment in the most efficient 900 MHz band to enhance both indoor and outdoor coverage.

Ambrish Jain, deputy managing director at Idea Cellular, said: “The high traffic on jammed networks has left Delhi consumers unhappy and looking for a network which offers superior connectivity, both on the roads as well as indoors.”

Vodafone recently said it worked with the civic agencies to address network issues and provide better connectivity in hospital, government buildings, and public spaces. The company invested more than Rs 350 crore to modernize and upgrade voice and data network in Delhi alone. During April-October 2015, Vodafone has set up over 730 3G / 2G sites in Delhi NCR, while enhancing the capacity of the existing 550 sites.

American wireless operator Sprint will be investing in the deployment of small cells for use in traffic-intensive small and medium-sized business locations to deliver faster data speeds indoors.

Focused on expanding indoor and outdoor coverage in urban areas, China Mobile is investing in new base stations and more than 100,000 LTE small cells, which will be networked over the GPON fiber backhaul technology.

In-building wireless deployments

ABI Research says telecoms-led deployments account for more than 47 percent of in-building wireless deployments today.

At present, vendor-led deployments sit close to 10 percent, third-party/neutral hosts control close to 43 percent of overall market deployment revenue and are set to grow that share to over 54 percent by 2020.

“Commercial property owners, such as real-estate companies or enterprises, are taking more responsibility for in-building wireless systems and provisioning their own buildings,” says Nick Marshall, research director at ABI Research.

As telecom operators transfer assets to neutral host companies, such as Crown Castle, carrier-led ownership will decline, with tower companies taking on the bulk of the in-building wireless business, according to ABI Research.

Telecoms-led deployment share will drop to less than 29 percent by 2020, with third-party / neutral host share increasing to hold a majority share and venue-led to 17 percent.

“Enterprises are funding more in-building wireless projects on their own, as they see the associated benefits, including increased employee productivity, customer satisfaction, and higher property and lease revenues,” said Nick Marshall of ABI Research.

In-building wireless market size

ABI Research forecasts the in-building wireless market to more than double in revenue by 2020, with the market anticipated to top $9 billion by 2020. North America will drive the overall market, with Europe and Asia-Pacific regions working to pick up the pace in 2016.

Sports venues, transportation and healthcare will continue to be the verticals that attract the most DAS investment, with shopping malls and hospitality coming in at a close second place.

North America’s sports venue, transportation and healthcare verticals account for just under half of DAS spending as major mobile network operators, such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T and neutral host providers, continue to deploy systems in these verticals.

ABI Research forecasts that China dominates the region’s activity, and while Capex is targeted to TD-LTE and 4G macro deployments, in-building wireless deployments will slow as infrastructure Capex spend shifts toward the newly formed China Tower Company. The in-building wireless market will return to growth in the second half of 2016.

Joe Madden, principal analyst at Mobile Experts, said enterprises and service providers are looking for lower cost alternatives to solve the in-building cellular challenge.

“Multi-operator radio access networks (MORANs) and multi-operator core networks (MOCN) are not preferred by many mobile operators, due to concerns about impact in their existing radio access networks (RANs).”

The DAS equipment vendor market has companies such as CommScope, Cobham Wireless, McWane, Westell, Comba Telecom, Corning and Dali Wireless looking for associating with enterprises and telecoms to grab market share.

Baburajan K
[email protected]