Telecom Council meets monthly for lunch with dozens of telcos, vendors, startups and VCs. This month we review indoor infra: small cells, LBS, and public venues. Meet opportunity and startups on the move.

  • Date: 12/2/2016 12:00 PM
  • Location: Ericsson in Santa Clara, CA (Map)

Agenda, Attendee List, & Presentation files now available to Telecom Council members in the library.



Silicon Valley, California, Dec 2016/Meeting Recap/ Our TC meeting in Indoor infrastructure was a panel, but with expert moderation from Jon Metzler, of Blue Field Strategies, it quickly elevated into a room-wide discussion among network operators, technology providers, and startups.

One of the interesting take-aways, I found, was the paradox of Wi-Fi, as it relates to indoor coverage. First, the entire room basically accepted a future in which most mobile phones could roam onto Wi-Fi, and integrate that into their cellular networks as a benefit of IP Multimedia Subsystems and digital migration. That said, what is the best way to cover indoor spaces:

1) Wi-Fi technology


  • cheap
  • ubiquitous
  • provided by facility, often at no cost to operator
  • cheap enough to over-provision as a gap-filler strategy, reduces network planning
  • no interference with the macro network
  • multi-carrier, supports all Internet devices, IoT, as well as voice
  • Often can be self-installed by facility or end user


  • Loss of carrier control
  • hand-over issues will persist
  • No QoS control for carrier, hard to support SLAs
  • Carriers may prefer a single-carrier solution at their frequency
  • Often has login problems, AAA (authentication, authorization, accounting) is an issue

2) Femtocell, DAS, and other cellular technology


  • Can deliver QoS to meet SLAs
  • Can drive customer loyalty with single-carrier network (or be multi-tenant if desired)
  • No handover issues
  • AAA seamlessly managed
  • Better battery consumption in some cases


  • High cost, terrible scalability
  • Network planning required
  • Truck roll required
  • Self-interference with the macro, unless new bands are used (ex: 3.5GHz)

So, in those lists lies the paradox. For carriers, Wi-Fi is cheap and fast, but represents a los off control, both in terms of the quality of the user experience, but also in customer loyalty. And while carrier-deployed indoor solutions are better on both of those counts, they are terribly expensive to install and maintain. We should expect a mix of these solutions to persist, with Wi-Fi dominating as measured by square feet or number of buildings covered.