AT&T AVP for Antenna Solutions talks In-Building Coverage & Capacity

This year’s HetNet Expo in Chicago boasted some great speakers including featured speaker Paula Doublin, Assistant Vice President, Antenna Solutions Construction and Engineering for AT&T.  Doublin started her speech by opening up for questions and, not surprisingly, the first question asked was in regards to spending.  What was really interesting, however, was the focus on multi-faceted, well-thought out in-building deployments that address both coverage and capacity issues.  Doublin’s speech seemed to reject the “one solution fits all” approach, even going so far as to say, “I cringe when I hear the word plug and play…there is no such thing” (we agree).

Doublin seems to support exhausting all network options to solve the coverage and capacity problems – hinting that you need all network deployment types, including WiFi and network customization and that it all has to work together to provide a successful in-building solution that provides both coverage AND capacity:

“You’ve got site acquisition, you’ve got power, you’ve got backhaul, you’ve got interoperability, you’ve got alarming and maintenance, you’ve got customer service and you’ve got technical skill. You’ve got to have all of those to deploy a macro. What about a DAS? You’ve got to have it all. What about a Wi-Fi? You’ve got to have it all. What about a small cell? You’ve got to have it all.”

At Spot On Networks, we have been speaking of network customization and customized in-building solutions for a long time.  In regards to cellular coverage the first essential step to getting the problem solved is an exhaustive frequency site survey to determine wher the actual problems are and then build the solution to fit the problem. There simply is no “one size fits all” solution.  Coverage, cost, network management and backhaul capacity (to name a few) all need to be taken into consideration to develop the idea in-building solution.    With 4 of 4 major carriers announcing support for WiFi calling coming in 2015, the complexity of in-building coverage and capacity solutions gets even greater and cost savings really begins to come into play in the MDU/ MTU spaces.

For more information about getting a site survey and frequency plan for your property email: sales@spotonnetworks.com

Government mandates airlines replace cockpit displays affected by WiFi signals

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Image Rights:  <a href="http://o.aolcdn.com/hss/storage/midas/c9bf64a3b41798dd6bf1740a6e7ef5c0/200846171/boeing-777-flickr-bill-abbott.jpg">Engaget</a> The maker of cockpit displays for Honeywell is under pressure from the goverment to replace the displays on older 777 and 737 models. Honeywell suggested to the FAA the need to replace displays due to several problems discovered during the year-long testing of on-board WiFi.

The need to replace displays comes from the wide-spread use of WiFi networks on board airlines not only by passengers, but also the crew. During the testing, screens flickered and sometimes went completely blank for up to 6 minutes.

The test problems occurred only on the ground, but highlighted the need to install WiFi-compliant screens to prevent issues mid-flight. According to Reuters screens will cost approximately $10,000, and will be replaced in about 1300 planes.

This is great news for business travelers and means that more and more airlines will be putting in WiFi networks for passengers.

T-Mobile brings seamless WiFi Calling option on iPhone 6

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T-Mobile USA’s newest feature, WiFi Calling, has had the cellular industry buzzing for quite some time. T-Mobile isn’t the only carrier to offer the service, but achieving seamless transfer from home or office WiFi to cellular carrier networks have not been a speedy process. T-Mobile announced this week that they have enabled the seamless WiFi calling option on iPhone 6, giving their customers a way to go from WiFi to T-Mobile’s Networks without disruption.

 

WiFi calling is nothing new. Companies like Google and Skype have long since offered their versions of Internet-based calls. The drawbacks to the aforementioned services such as Google Hangout ais that customers weren’t able to use their cellular phone numbers. T-Mobile has developed a way for your cellphone to go from WiFi directly to T-Mobile’s network.

Having one of the smallest networks in the US, T-Mobile has been faced with a uphill battle competing on the American market. Due to it’s reduced network capacity, T-Mobile was known for dropped calls and lack of coverage area. This new addition to it’s service offerings gives T-Mobile customers a boost in signal reception by allowing them to utilize their WiFi network to send and receive calls and text messages.

No other carrier is offering a strong WiFi-Calling service such as T-Mobile, in part due to what bigger carriers such as Verizon and AT&T describe as the lack of need due to a much larger coverage areas. But where the larger carriers fall short is the poor reception areas such as apartment and office buildings constructed with Green Building materials that help trap energy in, while insulating the interiors from the elements. These materials also block out wireless signals. This is where T-Mobile is sure to pickup disenfranchised customers who pay high monthly costs of Verizon’s or AT&T’s service plans while missing out on coverage places they use their phones most. Allowing their customers to use WiFi calling gives T-Mobile a network coverage boost as well as helps them retain clients who would otherwise switch services due to poor reception. It also greatly improves their customer satisfaction in the Multi-Dwelling Units (Apartment and Office Buildings). Overall, this move signals a “win-win” for T-Mobile in what amounts to be as one of the most effective ways to improve network usability.

Verizon and Wi-Fi Calling…

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Only weeks after Apple’s announcement that iOS8 will support Wi-Fi calling, and after the other 3 major US carriers had announced support for it also, Verizon became the last major US carrier to announce that  it too will support Wi-Fi calling in mid 2015.  Verizon’s announcement suggests that although it will support Wi-Fi calling “it was never a top priority” (Fran Shammo).   It appears at times that Verizon would prefer customers not be able to make calls at all rather than make a somewhat degraded call over Wi-Fi. Every carrier in the world has coverage issues in certain places (like my apartment, parking garages, thousands of LEED buildings in this country etc etc etc). Small cell solutions or DAS or next generation network enhancements will not solve  10% of these coverage holes over the next 3 years – our desire to use smartphones everywhere and anywhere guarantees this . Wi-Fi has a chance (at least) to plug some of them at a fraction of the cost of a DAS or small cell. And although there are certain Wi-Fi networks that aren’t designed sufficiently to support voice traffic, I’d think customers would still prefer to make a degraded call than not  be able to make a call at all.

Clearly small cell and DAS technology have an important role to play in extending cellular network capacity inside buildings. And undoubtedly call quality and advanced voice services may operate better over these networks compared to a poorly designed or bandwidth constrained Wi-Fi network. But I believe customers will be well-served now that all major carriers have announced support for Wi-Fi calling by mid 2015. See FierceWireless for more details: http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/verizon-wireless-plans-launch-wi-fi-calling-mid-2015/2014-09-17?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal

Verizon Announces WiFi Calling Coming in 2015!!! MDU/ MTUs Rejoice!

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BREAKING NEWS!!!!

Verizon Wireless announces plans to launch WiFi calling in mid-2015!  With 4 out of 4 major wireless carriers now announcing support for WiFi calling, the MDU/ MTU industry FINALLY has a cost effective indoor calling solution that solves the coverage problem, provides data capacity and more!  The announcement came today at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference.  VZ Communications CFO Fran Shammo said Verizon would be doing some technical work to make it happen, but WiFi calling will be supported by middle of next year.  Shammo made sure to state that WiFi calling was never “a top priority” for Verizon, similar to how AT&T made sure to state in their announcement last week that WiFi was a compliment, not needed because of poor coverage.

We called it months ago – the wireless industry has been abuzz with WiFi calling and with Apple supporting this amazing feature and the market demanding that they get WiFi calling support, Verizon and AT&T have both jumped aboard.

For MDU/ MTUs, DAS just became a technology of the past…

MDU/ MTU properties need to get a managed WiFi network right away to support property-wide WiFi calling.  At only $0.40/ square foot WiFi Calling is the most cost effective solution on the market. Contact us and we will get your property WiFi Calling – ready: 877-768-6687 or sales@spotonnetworks.com

T-Mobile ramps up WiFi calling marketing – big time

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Image rights: t-mobile.com

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Just proceeding and in the wake of Friday’s announcement that AT&T would begin offering WiFi calling 2015, T-Mobile seems to be ramping up it’s marketing of WiFi calling with new commercials and announcements staking their O.G. claim on WiFi calling.  “You heard it from us first”.  The race is on… with the AT&T announcement, T-Mobile is going to attempt to get as many subscribers to switch as they can before AT&T launches their WiFi calling solution.  Pulling up the rear is Verizon – who has yet to announce support for WiFi calling.  The question with Verizon no longer being “if?”, but “when?”.  Let’s face it – with three of the four major carriers (T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T) now supporting WiFi calling, Verizon simply has to follow suit or risk being perceived as simply not-with-it.

T-Mobile’s latest WiFi calling commercial:

What does this mean for MDU/ MTUs?

It means some advance planning needs to take place.  WiFi calling can be the answer to the indoor voice coverage problem, but it has to be done right.  We know an MDU property with consumer routers in every apartment is a recipe for signal disaster and this stands to be even more true when it comes to voice calling.  To truly offer WiFi calling as a solution to the indoor voice coverage problem, it has to be well managed and include QOS that prioritizes voice packets.  This will ensure that the caller can, first and foremost, make reliable calls from anywhere in the building… a necessity when providing building-wide coverage.

Speak with us today regarding WiFi calling for your building.

AT&T and WiFi calling

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A big announcement today from AT&T’s Ralph De La Vega: the carrier will support WiFi calling in 2015. See the story here:  http://www.cnet.com/news/at-t-plans-to-offer-wi-fi-calling-in-2015/

Of course De La Vega tried to downplay the significance with his statement that they “don’t have a burning desire for coverage.” Huh? Perhaps the thousand of building owners and millions of residents of Multi-Dwelling Uni (MDU) without coverage would probably disagree. Or perhaps the dozens of companies in the Distributed Antenna Space (DAS) who make millions installing systems because there’s a coverage issue might disagree. To be fair, much of the DAS work is about handling capacity problems (e.g. a stadium) not coverage problems.

Regardless, this is great news for consumers and comes only weeks after Apple announced iOS8 would support WiFi calling. It is also great news for building owners who might now consider WiFi calling as  the answer to in-building cellular problems. At a fraction of the cost of a a DAS, a WiFi network would handle voice plus data.

All U.S. consumers now need is for Verizon to step up to the plate. But with 3 of the 4 major carriers now supporting it, WiFi calling appears to gaining big momentum.

 

AT&T to Offer WiFi Calling!

We have been speculating that WiFi calling, which is currently supported by T-Mobile and Sprint, would receive support from the 2 largest carriers, Verizon and AT&T.  We had no idea that the announcement would come so soon.  Only three days after Apple launched it’s iOS 8 and iPhone 6 (both of which support WiFi calling), AT&T’s CEO of Mobility and Enterprise Business, Ralph de la Vega, announced that AT&T would be supporting WiFi calling!

AT&T’s WiFi calling offering will be the same as T-Mobile with seamless hand-off between WiFi and AT&T’s LTE network and will come sometime in 2015.  The announcement was made today at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia Conference.  While it was announced that they would be supporting WiFi calling, de la Vega made it clear that WiFi calling would be a complement to their cellular service.

As reported from cnet.com: “We don’t have a burning desire or need for coverage”, de la Vega said.  “Other operators with less coverage may pursue it more aggressively.”

This seems to be a bit of a dig at T-Mobile who has been getting massive press this week due to their partnership with Apple to provide seamless WiFi calling.

WiFi calling is here and in a big way.  For those of us in the WiFi industry this is huge news.  For building owners who face indoor cellular coverage problems – this is MASSIVE news.  With 3 of the 4 major carriers supporting WiFi calling, WiFi will be the most cost effective solution for providing in-building voice coverage.

Get a managed property-wide WiFi network in your property today to be ready.  Don’t waste money on a DAS that will soon be obsolete, CellBoost® can provide your property with indoor cellular coverage.  Contact us today!

Now we wait for Verizon…

Apples iOS 8, the iPhone 6, the Apple Watch and of course, WiFi Calling

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Yesterday Apple’s “September 9 Event” (as the blog-o-sphere heralded the secret but widely-speculated iPhone 6 launch) took place amid a flurry of internet chatter, live blogging, round-table live discussions and oh yeah, U2.  What made this event stand out – in fact is widely being referred to as being as impressive as the original iPhone launch – was that is had a much different feel from the last few (dare I say) static Apple events.  The venue was a custom built three story mega-structure, the usually tight invite list was broadened, but most importantly no one was 100% sure as to what was going to happen.  Sure there were rumors, maybe a bigger iPhone, perhaps an iWatch – but mostly there was just a lot of speculation.

The event delivered.  The announcement of new, larger iPhones, Apple Watch, Apple Pay and more made this event less about a product launch and more about a full scale integration place between us and all of our Apple devices.  In fact with the ubiquitous Apple computer which is now composed of all of device working in sync together, all the time, there is no portion of our life left untouched by an Apple computer.  Wired said it best, “A computer in your pocket. A computer on your body. A computer paying for all your purchases. A computer opening your hotel room door. A computer monitoring your movements as you walk though the mall. A computer watching you sleep. A computer controlling the devices in your home. A computer that tells you where you parked. A computer taking your pulse, telling you how many steps you took, how high you climbed and how many calories you burned—and sharing it all with your friends. A computer in your car. All of it the same computer: The computer in the sky that connects to the computer in your pocket and on your wrist and in your car, your office, and your home.” 

One step closer to a WiFi calling world…

Of most interest to us, of course, was Apple’s Phil Schiller discussing Apple’s support for WiFi calling and it’s partnering with T-Mobile for advanced WiFi calling.  So exciting!!! For the first time, iPhone users over T-Mobile’s network will be able to seamlessly roam from WiFi to cellular and back.  We have been waiting for this release for months now and with Apple now officially onboard with WiFi calling – the market is going to demand that Verizon and AT&T support this new iPhone feature.  What we did not expect, however, was the emphasis on the T-Mobile/ Apple partnership to make WiFi calling the best it can be… better than cellular!  A simple Google search for “Apple WiFi Calling” shows how exciting this news is.

Then there was Apple’s small announcement about wireless charging.  While the tech world was less than impressed with what Apple is calling “wireless charging” the general feeling was “we like where this is heading”.  The wireless charging industry has never quite gotten off the ground, but with Apple onboard there are sure to be good things to come.  If you missed the announcement, the new Apple watch will use a method called “inductive charging”.  According to the Forbes write up,  “An electric current in a transmitter creates a magnetic field that induces and electric current in a receiver, thereby charging the device.  But in the case of the Apple Watch, the transmitter, which is snugged into place with a magnet, is connected to a cord.”  That being said – you still don’t have to plug it into the wall which is a huge bonus.

 

 

RCR Wireless Discusses WiFi Offload And Where The Carriers Stand

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Martha Degrasse, editor of RCR Wireless News, recently hosted an RCR Insights discussion of WiFi offload for service providers.  This interesting conversation addressed how the carriers are using WiFi offload currently, what the future holds and why they are keeping mum on their WiFi strategy.  One of the reasons for keeping quiet (see the 17:51 mark), according to Claus Heading, CEO of Heading Consultants in Europe, is that by publicly mentioning a WiFi strategy the carriers would put themselves in an “extremely poor position in terms of lobbying for additional licensed spectrum“.  Heading goes on to say that despite the carriers reluctance to share on the topic of WiFi offload, most are adopting some form of offload strategy and while they may not be quick to say “we are going to go WiFi all the way”, according to Heading eventually that will happen simply due to the fact that there are copious amounts (500 mghz) of unlicensed spectrum to be used compared to the limited amount.  It was also mentioned later in the interview that Apple’s announcement to support WiFi calling will pressure the carriers to support WiFi for voice purposes and that already solutions combining WiFi calling and small cell technology are being used.  A site survey/ frequency study done on a MDU/ MTU building can explore the various voice solutions and guide the building owner to the best solution.  Request a site study of your property.

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