As always seems to be the case, no single “indoor” mobile access approach is “perfect.” In large part, that is because venues vary so much in size. So, as is always the case for any access or in-building distribution network, the solution has to succeed on both cost and capability dimensions.
Looking only at the “in-building” set of solutions (Wi-Fi to small cells), large venues are where the economics are most favorable for multi-carrier, in-building distributed antenna system (DAS) networks, one might argue.
The cost of deploying in-building solutions for mid-sized (perhaps 25,,000 square feet of space up to about 500,000 square feet) is a bigger challenge.
Small businesses represent yet another level of challenge, even if, in the U.S. market, for example, most business sites are in the “small venue” category.
About 92 percent of U.S. businesses, for example, have four or fewer employees. Just six percent have five to 19 employees. So 98 percent of U.S. business sites are “small.”
For the most part, that means commercially-viable in-building mobile access solutions are restricted to a very-small number of large venues and perhaps 550,000 mid-sized locations.
So it makes sense that solutions aimed at indoor mobile access, either single-carrier or multi-carrier, are aimed at a relatively small number of U.S. business locations. Supplier IP Access, for example, believes locations of 100,000 to 500,000 square feet number about 99,000 locations, and include hotels, retail locations, hospitals, schools, high-rise buildings and enterprise headquarters locations.
The tier two venue market segment, called “middleprise” by IP Access, consists of venues from 100,000 to 500,000 square foot locations. There are approximately 99,000 such venues in the United States, IP Access argues.
For small business locations, there arguably is almost no way to affordably supply multi-carrier solutions. Even in many of the mid-market locations, multi-carrier access solutions might face business model challenges.