ADRF over 5G, open RAN and indoor wireless networks

A phrase often repeated in the wireless industry is that 80% of all smartphone use is indoors. The source of this statistic is difficult to trace, but many companies operating in the indoor wireless industry are taking it to heart.

“Carriers are still spending a lot of investment in indoor and outdoor SAR [distributed antenna systems]”said Arnold Kim, ADRF COO. Kim’s comments on the subject carry some weight: He’s been ADRF’s COO for a decade, and the company dates back twice as long.

All the while, ADRF has focused on building wireless networks inside buildings, which often rely on DAS equipment as well as repeaters and other types of radio equipment. According to Kim, there have been a lot of changes in the industry over the two decades of ADRF ?? but the importance of accessing indoor internet connections has only grown.

ADRF sells a range of radio equipment, including the ADXD series DAS.
(Source: ADRF)

Perhaps one of the most significant changes over the past 20 years is the makeup of ADRF’s clients. Kim said that when the company started, only large network operators like Verizon were paying to install DAS systems in large buildings like hotels and sports arenas. “It was a simpler time,” Kim recalls.

But it’s different now. “There was a recognition that in the building [wireless networks] was an incredibly important space for businesses to invest in, ”Kim explained. He said large wireless network operators like AT&T still pay for DAS systems inside some large buildings, but a major source of ADRF’s current revenue mix now comes from the building owners themselves. . After all, smartphones are so ubiquitous today that the lack of a cellular connection indoors is a concern for most people, whether they are sports fans in a stadium or white-collar workers inside a stadium. corporate campus.

“The business sector is incredibly robust,” Kim said, explaining that there are approximately 6 to 8 million commercial buildings in the United States today and only a small percentage operate indoor DAS networks.

Another change in the industry that Kim pointed out: Indoor wireless systems aren’t necessarily prohibitive. “It’s something that we fight every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” Kim said, saying ADRF’s new DAS offerings are affordable for most large companies, especially given the importance of having interior cellular connections. “It is much, much more profitable.”

But these are not the only factors that motivate ADRF’s activities. Kim said a major new source of attention within the company was private wireless networks ?? networks owned and operated by a utility, business or other customer. Indeed, ADRF recently announced that it would support Anterix ?? a major emerging player in the private wireless network industry ?? with his equipment.

“Private LTE is a great pilot,” Kim said.

However, the same can’t be said for open RAN, according to Kim. “I think it’s still a long way from maturity,” he said of the technology, which promises to allow operators to mix and match products from various vendors through hardware interfaces. standardized. “It’s exciting. This is the future. But it’s very early.”

Kim said ADRF is investing in the open RAN space but doesn’t expect to support the technology anytime soon.

Finally, Kim said 5G is becoming a major talking point for ADRF. “5G is incredibly relevant to us,” he said. After all, a large portion of ADRF’s existing customer base uses 4G networks that will eventually need to be upgraded to 5G. “It is something very necessary.”

“It’s going to take ten years,” Kim said of the 5G upgrade process for indoor networks. “It’s still very new.”

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?? Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G and Mobile Strategies, Light reading | @mikeddano

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