With in-building wireless (IBW) solutions becoming simpler, more affordable and more necessary, what does an IBW future look like?
As complex enterprise spaces evolve, it’s clear that demand for ever-improving, faster connectivity is increasing. Yet things are getting crowded.
As demand for connectivity grows, the spectrum driving the enterprise space can struggle. With greater numbers of connected devices than ever before, building owners, managers and architects increasingly recognize the value of in-building wireless solutions to provide that reliable, efficient and revenue-generating enterprise connectivity.
After all, as in-building wireless has evolved, solutions are simpler, more affordable and offer greater capacity, performance and speed than ever before. As such it’s unsurprising that in-building wireless is fast becoming our next modern utility.
So what does the future of IBW look like? And what key technologies and architectures are solutions using?
IBW solutions are evolving and improving year on year. Yet there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to enterprise IBW. Because of this, it’s important to have a strong understanding of the requirements of the enterprise space (and ask the right questions) in order to identify the right IBW solution to support it.
A variety of new IBW solutions use different architectures and bands. Considering this, below are some of the fundamentals you need to know about the solutions driving the future of IBW:
Regardless of the solution, each of the above IBW options is dependant on a network of copper or (increasingly commonly today) fiber-optic infrastructure to support their antennas, access points and other interfaces.
Historically, IBW solutions typically relied on RF cabling, such as coaxial cable for their infrastructure. But today, and looking to the future, new technologies have simplified architectures that allow Gigabit speeds, and sometimes more, over simple IT structured cabling.
Put simply, fiber connectivity and an IT-convergent infrastructure will help you support future applications and standards. The advantages here are lower costs in the cabling itself, lower installation costs, and greater possibilities for different services to share a single, convergent cable infrastructure.
Of course in addition to reduced costs and enhanced connectivity, speed matters. All IBW solutions need to be able to rapidly route traffic on and off the macro network of one or more operators. And as many of today’s applications are data intensive, they consume a great deal of bandwidth – it’s this on-ramp that can cause rapid congestion in many enterprise-sized deployments.
Fiber connectivity is again the answer here. It’s important to employ fiber as your backhaul solution to keep that on-ramp moving smoothly. Or in cases where space or location won’t allow this, use point-to-point microwave antennas to backhaul traffic onto the network, and provide a viable solution.
While the IBW solutions we’ve covered here relate to 4G/LTE networks, it’s important to also consider how things will change with 5G. As of this date, 5G standards have not been formalized and there is no universal specification. However, projected 5G performance targets do provide some insight as to which IBW solutions will be ready to take advantage of the next generation of wireless networks: fiber-based backhaul and high-end IT cabling will feature strongly.
With fiber-based architectures, 5G on the horizon and an increasing variety of ways to deploy quality IBW solutions, it seems that technology is regaining the upper hand over skyrocketing demands – for now.
But, in order to stay ahead of the curve, it’s important to prepare today. For infrastructure experts that means ensuring you maintain up to date wireless training – as those who invest in training will be the ones to reap the benefits of an expanding market, today and in future.