What indoor mobile network shall we choose?

This is an article by Johan Cronqvist, UClarity, Sweden. Johan Cronqvist is a consultant at Uclarity and writes about the challenges about building good indoor mobile networks.

The original article in Swedish: http://telekomidag.se/vilket-inomhusnat-for-mobilitet-ska-vi-valja/

As a continuation on the challenges to set requirements on mobile outdoor coverage I now enter into the premises to have a look at the challenges for indoor mobile coverage in large and small offices.

There are two main alternatives to increase mobile indoor coverage. The first alternative is that you buy this [DAS system] from your operator. Historically this has been very expensive, but the development in price has been positive the last year [for the customer]. Alternatively you purchase this from a third party, which is easy to motivate from a cost perspective. Today the difference between these alternatives is very small, and in the end it is probably the third party that will do the actual installation.

At the same time we have higher requirements on the network today than we did before. In locations where it was sufficient that employees were accessible for a call, you today expect them to participate in digital meetings. If the outdoor mobile network is limited, there is no other solution than a dedicated base station.

Most enterprises already has some sort of wireless infrastructure. If we now are considering to increase the mobile coverage in a small office, should we not be able to rely on this as our primary network and avoid investing in WiFi and local broadband connections? The answer is both yes and no. There is probably a need for upgrades of the VPN gateways to enable access to applications and internal systems. However, this might be an alternative for smaller offices if they are used to connect to the ”outside” and work mobile.

A new alternative is to get modern WiFi access points and complement with 3G antennas to secure voice coverage, but how many WiFi networks are new and modern? Often we surf faster on 4G than on WiFi.

The dilemma remains – WHAT shall we increase coverage for? An attractive price level often limits the operator offering to either 3G or 4G, where one does to include the other.

If operators want us to become mobile, they have to offer both quality and capacity. Each enterprise is unique and their requirements must also be unique. Dare to demand flexibility in order to avoid ”one-sie-fits-all”. We know that our mobile needs will increase. The big question is how you will support mobility and how much you are willing to invest in order to achieve that goal?