The increasing emphasis on “The Edge” is driven by the global acceptance that connectivity has become an essential utility rather than simply a commodity. With the proliferation of emerging technologies such as 5G NR, along with the densification of existing LTE networks and grouping together of a plethora of technologies under the “5G” marketing banner, there is a growing significance to “The Edge.”
But what is the “Network Edge?” And more importantly, what implications does the Edge have for CRE owners? How does this relate to determining such items as net present values (NPV) or calculating future cash flow?
Simply put, “The Edge” is the closest point of contact with the end user where the logic, storage and processing power required to provide connectivity can be suitably located. The quality of connectivity is sometimes referred to as “coverage health”. Healthy coverage, or lack thereof, can have a significant impact on the perception of the quality and suitability of a venue or property. In turn, this may increase or decrease a venue or Property’s perceived value accordingly.
“With the proliferation of 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) and the re-use of a spectrum to provide capacity and coverage for emerging use cases, RF designs scenarios can no longer be planned without assessing the mutual impact between other network layers such as adjacent in-building, outdoor small cells, ODAS and macro sectors.” —Jonathan Rowney, Principal Engineer, Ranplan Americas
The CRE owner’s “Connectivity Ecosystem” is made up of carriers, net-neutrals, system integrators, regulators and Manufacturers. These providers understand the importance of the network edge and how imperative it is to shape the owner’s understanding of different connectivity solutions and offerings, especially since the carrier’s subscribers are often the owner’s patrons and tenants.
Fundamental changes introduced in 5G NR and other evolving connectivity technologies are important because they help better serve the ever-increasing number and variety of devices present on modern connectivity systems. CRE owners should consider their patrons’ needs when evaluating various solutions. Ultra- High throughputs and low latencies required by different applications may have a cost-effective price point when compared to traditional fibre based or wired solutions.
However, these new technologies are not without problems. There are several distinct challenges which must be overcome:
- Hotspots and not spots. While the majority of patrons will be relying on in-building hotspots, there is an expectation from subscribers of seamless connectivity when transitioning between buildings. Depending on your property’s footprint, you may currently have pain points in areas such as your lobby, stairwells, and in the outdoor spaces between buildings.
- Understand the options and risks. Any connectivity solution commissioned should be relative to the needs of your tenant, patron or customer base and there are now many options for connectivity outside of traditional cellular solutions providing bars on a phone. With a growing focus on connectivity as an essential utility, even the smallest inaccuracies in proposed preliminary RF designs can have large costs over the life cycle of a system if introduced into the final deployment.
3.Monetary and time costs must be controlled to realize maximum return on investment. This can include exploring non-traditional connectivity options such as fixed wireless access as opposed to fiber.
Additionally, internal stakeholders responsible for approvals and delivery require the ability to effectively manage the connectivity ecosystem with relatable flows of communication to ensure transparency and efficient delivery, avoiding delays.
Obtaining an accurate representation of coverage, interference and throughput when deploying modern connectivity networks is not simple, and this complexity can be exacerbated by the narrow view of legacy, indoor-only planning tools. Owners, along with their connectivity ecosystem, must consider the impact to, or of, the targeted structure with outdoor small cells, O-DAS and macro sectors.
Understanding an accurate, holistic view of the targeted structure and the surrounding areas provides the ability for the owners to accurately assess and measure the “coverage health” of the structure. In doing so it is important to consider each in-building connectivity option along with external connectivity networks that could have a detrimental effect on achieving the desired service level for the structure within the environment it resides.
“Using Ranplan’s products enables all parties that are part of the wider connectivity ecosystem to improve consistency and transparency of the preliminary design process. Using this collaborative approach improves how these parties can impact the wireless property portfolios gains, based on their proposed connectivity solution.” —Jason Suplita, Regional Executive, Ranplan Americas
“With the proliferation of 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) and the re-use of a spectrum to provide capacity and coverage for emerging use cases, RF designs scenarios can no longer be planned without assessing the mutual impact between other network layers such as adjacent in-building, outdoor small cells, ODAS and macro sectors.” Jonathan Rowney, Principal Engineer, Ranplan Americas
Accurate simulations for planning modern, multi-layer systems require continued collaboration between the owner connectivity network ecosystem, their IT group and construction and maintenance teams, especially as traditional in-building designs can no longer be planned accurately without considering the impact to, and of, outdoor small cells, O-DAS and macro sectors.
Network design engineers addressing both traditional in-building and modern heterogenous networks require confidence that device specifications used with advanced 3D propagation models and material databases for simulation meet a more advanced level of accuracy. Ranplan addresses this by leveraging its extensive R&D pedigree to extend industry standard formats such as CAD with RF and OEM specific parameters to help accurately model the built environment and OEM devices, enabling more informed decisions when selecting and correctly dimensioning what type of connectivity system is most appropriate to meet CRE owners’ requirements.
“Using Ranplan’s products enables all parties that are part of the wider connectivity ecosystem to improve consistency and transparency of the preliminary design process. Using this collaborative approach improves how these parties can impact the wireless property portfolios gains, based on their proposed connectivity solution.” – Jason Suplita, Regional Executive, Ranplan Americas
Based on a live deployment, this short case study outlines the challenges and risks associated with deploying a public safety, and other connectivity systems, in to a very complex environment and the opportunity Ranplan Collaboration Hub provided to manage and mitigate these.
Radio One is a turnkey systems integrator and one of the largest authorized Motorola channel partners in the United States. They are responsible for aiding the deployment and maintenance of the public safety system for one of the largest and most visited theme parks in the United States.
Complex built environment – identification of non-compliant buildings on campus is costly. Additionally, modelling the build environment accurately is challenging with many non-traditional aspects, especially when taking into consideration the nature of rides and exhibits which need to be served.
Scale – visualisation – large complex project over several physical parks containing both indoor and outdoor designs.
High capacity/footfall – increases the potential impacts of risks with small delays/inaccuracies becoming extremely costly over the lifecycle of a project.
Large number of internal and external stakeholders to manage – stakeholders have a diverse range of interests and backgrounds meaning reporting must be standardized and concise to avoid approval delays, carrier acceptance (for wider connectivity system) and proper commissioning of the final system.
Mission critical – errors and delay will have not only a large monetary cost over the lifecycle of the projects but will also have the potential to put patrons at risk if the public safety systems fails or underperforms.
Errors in communication – multiple and diverse range of internal and external stakeholders involved during the lifecycle of a project for design, commissioning and maintenance. If the correct information isn’t shared in standardized formats, significant delay can be introduced to project delivery and the system may not be maintained sufficiently to match growing complexity of the demands on campus.
Design inaccuracies – small inaccuracies compound, increasing the risk that the public safety system will either not be compliant or underperform, putting employees and visitors alike in jeopardy should there be an emergency.
Data loss/data control – backup, recovery and control of sensitive data.
OPPORTUNITY: HOW COLLABORATION HUB HELPED
Site identification – effectively guide walk test and design resources to confirm identification of non-compliant buildings inside the campus using visualization of wider campus in the context of high-quality geo-data, combining both detailed in-building models and outdoor areas present on campus.
Enforce and manage best practices methodology – controlling inputs and standardising reporting for all stakeholders, reducing risk of delay and potentially costly errors which can be caused by “grey areas” inherently introduced when a diverse range of stakeholders is collaborating.
Data protection and security – user access control of files and related assets protects against data loss and ensures smooth transition of data in standardised formats between all stakeholders.
Design and deliver high quality, compliant, public safety systems to one of the largest, most complex theme parks in the USA which have been approved by all stakeholders required in the process on time and to cost.
“As a company, Radio One is at the forefront of design, always pushing the creative boundaries for the comfort and safety of its customers. The result of this is a high-capacity, complex campus which requires mission critical coverage in a combination of non-traditional indoor and outdoor venues.
Due to the mixed indoor/ outdoor nature of the campus and niche complexity of the in-building designs, Ranplan solutions provide the only viable uniform solution.
Other options will require vendors to submit in multiple design file formats created and maintained by several different tools. This will add unnecessary complexity and cost to the design process and project management.” – Joseph C. Rohlic, Director of Construction Services, Radio One
“Understanding risk, cost and delivery timelines when deploying emerging connectivity technologies requires the property owner’s ecosystem to have access to:
• An advanced network design solution capable of collectively generating prediction layers and analytics with all existing and emerging technologies,
• Transparent, easily manageable designed delivery process using simplified reports and leveraging industry standard formatting (CAD) to help property owners guide their CAPEX investments in connectivity systems,
• A trusted partner with a certified network of trained engineers, capable of providing next generation connectivity designs via an innovative heterogenous design tool,
• An agile and responsive tool vendor who can evolve and adapt with the growing complexities of delivering high-quality connectivity systems” – Jason Suplita