Last week more than 21,000 visitors from 110 countries and territories attended the 2017 Mobile World Congress Americas in San Francisco. It was the first for MWC in the United States, having recently gone into a partnership with CTIA to up the appeal of the long-time wireless tradeshow. We were introduced to Advanced RF Technologies (ADRF) and discussed the the transition to 5G, IoT and hurricanes with ADRF Chief Operating Officer Arnold Kim.
For our readers who are not familiar with your company, tell us about ADRF?
Advanced RF Technologies (ADRF) is a Top 5 Distributed Antenna System (DAS) provider. We've been operating for more than 18 years and provide in-building wireless connectivity solutions to improve cellular signal and data speeds when there is either a lot of people in one area, or the building infrastructure doesn't allow frequencies to enter unobstructed from the macro network. Our products include DAS, small cells, antennas and passive components.
What industries are adopting your technology?
Every industry needs better connectivity inside of their buildings, so we have clients from many different verticals. We work with all four major carriers (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) and our products are currently in most of the Fortune 100 company buildings, many high profile sports stadiums, commercial real estate, healthcare, and more. We also do plenty of Public Safety installations.
Device types continue to proliferate - no longer is it a type of mobile phone. How do you advise customers on what types of frequencies and standards to implement?
Most companies have an understanding of what their connectivity needs are. However our approach is to offer flexible and future-proof solutions that will grow with our clients. We try to ensure that our clients will never need to do a full refresh on their investment.
From a connectivity perspective, what are some of the near term challenges for IoT?
The biggest challenges we see regarding the IoT has to do with the sheer volume of devices taking a bandwidth on a network. If you think about a sports stadium and trying to connect 50,000 people, network density quickly becomes a challenge. For large enterprises the number of devices connected and the challenges can be just as large. There's a wide range of devices that will be connected that don't necessarily need a 5G connection. For instance, a connected oil pipe simply needs to send signal that things are working correctly or not. This can be accomplished using a 3G signal, on a low frequency band (which travels more effectively that a 5G signal on a high band might). In areas where the is limited connectivity, this is an important thing to consider.
It’s still early days, but how are you tackling the transition from 4G to 5G?
While the definition of 5G has yet to be settled, we are prepared for it, and those who have our systems in place will be too. Our new ADX V series DAS is modular and works with every type of frequency. When 5G becomes standard, whatever frequency may be adopted by each carrier to run the signal will be compatible with our equipment. At MWC America, we are announcing new Head End and Remote Modules for ADX V to support 600 MHz, the frequency that T-mobile plans to use exclusively for 5G. Not many DAS solutions today support it.
Let’s turn our attention to current events. Hurricane Harvey and the floods it caused in Houston. What role does ADRF play in public safety and how do you support response teams when critical infrastructure comes down?
ADRF performs a lot of public safety installations and we were one of the first companies to be FirstNet compliant. As an example, we recently installed two public safety DAS in the new Atlanta Braves stadium. Dense areas and public venues are mostly required by law to have complete, uninterrupted connection at all times. We provide the systems that allow for that. We have also introduced a series of mobile repeaters that can be implemented in crisis situations as well as outdoor venues where concerts are taking place.
Another example is Hurricane Sandy, a Category 3 major hurricane which affected coastal Mid-Atlantic states in 2012.Verizon deployed CROW (Cellular Repeater on Wheels) help provide interim emergency communications. CROWs are low cost, portable, over the air (which doesn’t requires backhaul) and can be used to provide expanded cellular network coverage or capacity.
What's the most interesting implementation you've done? Why?
We were selected to make the happiest place on earth one of the best connected. Around Disney World parks, we put in a series of repeaters to provide better coverage and let families share their adventures. One of the important parts of the installation, especially in crowded venues where aesthetic is of the utmost importance, is to make sure equipment is concealed and hidden. Locating those areas when thousands of people are walking the entirety of the park every single day was a challenge.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We announced a new high power outdoor modular repeater at Mobile World Congress Americas, and while it’s intended purpose is to improve cellular connection in outdoor areas, it will be beneficial for IoT connectivity as more people become reliant on having these connections everywhere. Our products support every frequency including those that will be used for 5G, and the 3G and 4G that powers IoT connections. The importance of having blanket coverage for IoT cannot be understated, especially as more important devices become connected in the future.