Wi-Fi has evolved to become a more integral part of the mobile and cellular market ecosystem. Smart phones and other mobile devices already have embedded Wi-Fi capability as a supplement to cellular connectivity. From a network perspective, Wi-Fi has similar attributes as licensed band Small Cells with some key exceptions. Wi-Fi does not provide the same level of service integration and, most importantly, lacks seamless mobility support today.
Wi-Fi networks are typically either private/enterprise owned and operated networks or they are public Wi-Fi networks deployed as hotspots in areas where large groups of people congregate and desire high-speed data service.
Wireless Service Providers (WSPs) are increasingly utilizing Wi-Fi as a mobile data offload solution while enterprises and venues look at Wi-Fi as a means of improving their customer, tenant and staff experience and overall productivity. Wi-Fi was initially designed as a technology operating in unlicensed frequency bands used for wireless extensions of an enterprise local area network. These solutions can provide customized offerings, but they work best in controlled environments.
User habits have changed dramatically in the recent past and continue to evolve rapidly. During major sports and entertainment events, the demand for personalized data, video and social media can strain the existing cellular networks. Events like the Super Bowl, Soccer World Cup and College Basketball’s March Madness generate terabytes of data and video usage, thus straining even the highest capacity 4G LTE networks of any WSP. In these public environments, Wi-Fi has proven to be a nice complement to cellular services.
In a commercial building, the challenges can be different. Often complementary in nature, a hybrid cellular/Wi-Fi network is typically part of a more holistic neutral host or open network approach. Wi-Fi deployments in multi-tenant buildings are often controlled by the individual tenant and the deployments vary widely based on specific needs of that particular tenant or enterprise. The growing use of mobile devices and applications can negatively impact other mission critical operations that rely on an enterprise Wi-Fi.
For indoor solutions, ExteNet’s approach in either case includes a thorough analysis of the existing conditions, the needs and the appropriate solution that can be solely cellular, Wi-Fi or hybrid in nature, with the ultimate goal being delivering superior and reliable advanced mobile broadband connectivity throughout the venue or enterprise.
Outdoor Wi-Fi access points are typically placed on existing infrastructure like utility/telephone poles, street lamps or traffic signal poles which provide a high density of potential sites where these location sensitive deployments can take place. The ability to integrate Wi-Fi on an existing Small Cell or Distributed Network node can be a service differentiator for all the parties involved including the WSPs, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the communities where these networks are deployed and provisioned.
This approach allows for 3G, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi service from a single deployment providing great economic and aesthetic benefits. In order to support a true mobile broadband service, a dedicated transport network to support the various technologies in distributed networks is desired. ExteNet’s dense fiber networks in combination with evolving wireless technologies is the ideal solution to support the accelerating needs for more bandwidth in more locations.
Indoor and venue based Wi-Fi access points are located in similar spots as other distributed network technologies. Wi-Fi access points need to be connected to controllers in a similar manner as other distributed network architectures. Due to the complementary nature of Wi-Fi and other cellular based distributed network architectures, a majority of ExteNet Wi-Fi deployments also support licensed cellular solutions.
Key Benefits of ExteNet’s W-Fi Networks
Broadband Capacity - a hybrid DAS, Small Cell and/or Wi-Fi network can deliver a higher level of user experience and offload the WSP’s cellular network in the most optimal manner
Ubiquitous Coverage – augmenting a distributed network with a carrier-grade or enterprise-grade Wi-Fi network will ensure seamless data coverage throughout the facility
Aesthetic Values – Wi-Fi utilizes small form-factor equipment which can be co-located with the other distributed network components, thereby alleviating the aesthetic concerns of venues and facilities