The term Enterprise addresses any non-residential in-building including hotels, convention centres, transport hubs, offices, hospitals and retail outlets. It's not just intended for businesses to serve their own office staff.

This can be a more lucrative opportuntiy for small cell vendors than residential, because price points are higher. Equipment is sized larger, both RF power for wider coverage and increased processing for higher capacity. Third party systems integrators are often involved with the installation. Being indoor, products don't have to be mechanically as robust or weatherproof, and are often connected by a single Ethernet cable providing both power and backhaul.

Enterprise Small Cells make it economically viable

Smaller businesses and home workers have not been able to justify additional cellular equipment investments up to now - the additional call traffic they generate would not qualify for additional cellsites to be installed. This traffic is aggregated up with all other traffic in their area and cellsites are planned and installed based on total capacity and coverage demands. Enterprise small cells offer the opportunity to address these enterprise markets through low cost, self installed units which capitalise on the existing broadband connections available to most businesses.

Addressing the different size and scale of businesses

When looking at the enterprise market, the size of each segment grows tenfold. For example, in the UK, there are approximately:

  • 5,000 large enterprises
  • 50,000 small/medium enterprises (SMEs)
  • 500,000 small office/home office (SOHOs)

This excludes those working from home for large enterprises.ubiquisys-enterprise-femtocell SOHOs and SMEs would be the initial market entry. They tend to adopt new technology more quickly, and the low cost price puts this in reach of everyone. Their product, shown on the right hand side, is typical of the format available.

Larger business premises may benefit from a local controller which directly manages the cluster of enterprise femtocells, dealing with the local handoff and consolidating the signalling traffic. Spidercloud Wireless have developed a solution specifically targetted at this market, which is described in this interview with Ronny Haraldsvik, their CMO.

Often businesses have a mix of different sizes of building, ranging from remote workers operating independently through to large scale office blocks housing thousands of staff. Businesses seek to offer the same range of facilities to all their staff, regardless of location and this requires a mix of different products.If additional business services are combined with the enterprise femtocell offer, such as IT services for data backup, email to mobile etc. this could provide a package with additional benefits that is cheaper to deliver and has upside of additional revenue opportunities.

Outsourcing and other commercial models appearing

Some innovative network operators have specifically targetted the enterprise sector using small cells. Network Norway deployed femtocells for their enterprise customers both in the office and at their homes, capturing anything up to 80% of their mobile traffic. The remainder is handled either through their own macrocell network or via national roaming with the encumbent Telenor. This approach makes it quite cost effective to provide excellent coverage closely targetted at paying customers, while still offering good outdoor service. In principle, there is no reason why an MVNO may not also operate this way, providing it obtained the permission of its host network operator. Several MVNOs are believed to be trialling or offering this solution.

Outsourcing enterprise femtocell deployment is another option for network operators. A number of organisations and consortia are proposing and/or trialling solutions, including Cloudberry Norway (interview), NEC/COLT and NEC/Virgin (NEC interview).


Nick Johnson, CTO ip.access, wrestles with SUMO

Nick Johnson 2015 150SUMO, Super Multi-Operator Core Network or Super MOCN, is ip.access' new term for a fully featured multi-operator commercial small cell platform. With Enterprise in-building wireless being a hot topic these days, and neutral host/multi-operator support a key factor, Nick shared his insights on the commercial changes needed to achieve success.

 

Enterprise offers a new revenue stream for equipment vendors

Revenue StreamUntil now, over 99% of cellular equipment sales are made to network operators – those who have bought the rights to access and use licenced spectrum. A few niche opportunities such as cruise liners and defence account for a diverse, interesting but relatively small business sideline. Future mobile network operator capital investment isn't forecast to grow. However building owners and property developers are increasingly prepared to contribute towards in-building systems. How will this new revenue source manifest itself and what are the implications?

 

The Building Owner’s dilemma: Why can't I install my own Small Cells?

Office Building 150The following case study highlights a not uncommon scenario where a building owner can’t meet the needs of its users, not because of technical limitations or even financial ones but because there is simply no process in place to approve and connect small cell network equipment paid for and installed by third parties.

 

Wembley Stadium Tour: Deep inside EE’s largest DAS deployment

WembleyIntroWembley Stadium in London is one of the UK’s most prestigious (and challenging) venues for wireless service. EE sponsor the site and operate the DAS system shared by other operators. Andy Sutton and Kin Wan gave me a full tour of their facility, sharing not just the technical specifications but also the reasoning behind their choices.

 

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    Enterprise

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    Urban

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