The Enterprise in-building wireless market is very active at the moment, with many announcements from Small Cell vendors. But this isn’t the only technology fighting for market share. We spoke with Scott Willis, incoming CEO at Zinwave, a UK-based DAS vendor, for his perspective on how DAS vendors are responding to the changing shape of the market.
What’s the market scope and position of Zinwave today?
Zinwave is a global manufacturer of indoor DAS systems with a significant presence in Europe, also strong in Asia and making inroads into North America and the Middle East.
Prior to 2H14, the standard business model for DAS was that the network operators would take the lead. The operator would cover the capital costs, often with one taking primary responsibility and sub-leasing capacity to other networks. The major installations have been in large sports venues, conference centres, shopping malls etc.
We’ve now seen a shift towards the Enterprise model, where systems are funded partially or wholly by building owners themselves. We feel in a strong position to serve that market because our system is relatively simple – fibre connected radio access points and a couple of hubs into which each network operator can connect their own basestations. Our system handles any frequency from 150MHz to 2.7GHz and natively supports sharing by multiple operators.
What about LTE at higher frequencies, such as LAA at 5GHz, LTE-U at 3.5GHz?
The prospects for that are still at a discussion level, standards are not yet finalised and it has yet to evolve. If you ask me whether that could be a threat in the future, well yes it could be and we’ll keep an eye on that. We’ll take that into consideration for our future roadmap, and could add that capability if demand arose.
We are also evaluating demand in the market for joint development and combining other technologies. This could include combining DAS with Wi-Fi, and using Small Cells to connect into our DAS system directly.
While Wi-Fi is a great platform for data capacity, I feel that DAS still remains the best proven solution for in-building wireless where both capacity and coverage are required, and don’t see that changing anytime soon.
How will you sell into the Enterprise sector?
I believe our product has a great fit into the Enterprise market. Most industry analysts looking at the market segment forecast it will double in size over the next 5 years. Verticals such as hospitals, airports and universities are all good opportunities for us. We’re being quite specific about which of these market verticals we’re targeting.
Our markets include many tech companies that we see as high value customers and who want their environment to be entirely wireless – everything from the laptop, tablet, handheld – and to operate with the same level of service as with wired devices.
So how do we get to that sales channel? We previously sold only through mobile operators. The touchpoints when selling to Enterprises are quite different and it would be expensive to hire a dedicated/direct sale force to address that market. So we’re working with system integrators who could also do a lot of the practical deployment work. We’re also building bridges and relationships with VARs (Value Added Resellers), developing multiple channels into the market.
A company of any size in this space would find it difficult to address the small business sector directly. Going through a VAR system channel will allow us to reach that smaller business segment. We’re also working directly with real-estate development companies. Typically the 80/20 (Pareto principal) applies in that some 20% of companies own 80% of the buildings – so we are approaching those and attempting to put business models in place. Installing DAS during the initial construction phase is considerably cheaper than retrofitting at a later date.