In-Building Wireless Networking Is in the Right Place at the Right Time

Carl Weinschenk

The great increase in wireless use is leading to a parallel increase in in-building networking.

There are two interrelated reasons for this. The first is, as anyone who has ever used a cell phone knows, cellular networks struggle with distributing signals indoors. These systems confront those problems. Moreover, they offer the side benefit of enabling carriers to transfer traffic from expensive wireless spectrum to the Internet, which is free.

ABI Research reports that in-building wireless systems include active and passive distributed antenna systems, repeaters, picocells and femtocells. In all, the market will reach almost $10 billion in deployments in 2012. The press release offers a nice graphic that breaks the market down by year - from 2008 to 2016 - and by region. Asia-Pacific consistently is the leader, with Europe and North America reporting in with similar-sized smaller pieces of the pie. The leading verticals, in order, are corporate campuses, airports, railroad stations and shopping centers, the release says.

Last week, AT&T CTO John Donovan told the VentureBeat Mobile Summit that the company is deploying a lot of femtocells to support its 3G network. The Light Reading piece doesn't quote numbers. Indeed, the thrust of the story isn't how many the company is rolling out, but the fact that engineers are working hard to ensure that they don't cause interference issues.

ABI isn't the only firm that sees great growth for such on-premise networks. Maravedis 4G team leader Fernando Donoso provided some insight, using the March CTIA conference in Orlando as a jumping off point:

All the Tier-1 OEMs are positioning for the foreseen explosion in 4G small cell deployments, whether in the form of picocells, carrier femtocells, residential femtocells, or carrier WiFi. This sets up an industry dynamic that in the long term is likely to bring additional downward price pressure on all base station form factors, decreased differentiation at the level of base stations, and the appearance of new entrants in the base station and wireless network markets.

In other words, these devices all inhabit a space that is going to get hot, and the competition will bring prices down. Still another way of saying it is that this seems like a very good time to be in the in-building networking sector.

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