ADRF on 5G, open RAN and indoor wireless networks
An oft-repeated phrase in the wireless industry is that 80% of all smartphone usage happens indoors. It’s difficult to track down the source of that statistic, but many of the companies operating in the indoor wireless industry take it to heart.
“Carriers still spend a tremendous amount of capex on indoor and outdoor DAS [distributed antenna systems],” said Arnold Kim, ADRF’s COO. Kim’s comments on the topic carry some weight: He has been ADRF’s COO for a decade, and the company traces its corporate origins back twice that far.
During that entire time, ADRF has focused squarely on the business of building wireless networks inside buildings, which often rely on DAS equipment as well as repeaters and other types of radio equipment. According to Kim, there have been plenty of changes in the industry during ADRF’s two decades – but the importance of accessing indoor Internet connections has only grown.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes over the past 20 years is the mix of ADRF’s customers. Kim said that, when the company started, big network operators like Verizon were the only ones paying to install DAS systems inside big buildings like hotels and sports stadiums. “It was a simpler time,” Kim reminisced.
But it’s different now. “There was a recognition that in-building [wireless networks] was an incredibly important space for enterprises to invest in,” Kim explained. He said big wireless network operators like AT&T still pay for DAS systems inside some big buildings, but a major source of ADRF’s current revenue mix now comes from building owners themselves. After all, smartphones are today so ubiquitous that the absence of a cellular connection indoors is concerning to most people, whether they are sports fans inside a stadium or white collar workers inside a corporate campus.
“The enterprise sector is incredibly robust,” Kim said, explaining that today there are roughly 6-8 million commercial buildings in the US, and only a small percentage operate indoor DAS networks.
Another change in the sector that Kim pointed out: indoor wireless systems aren’t necessarily cost prohibitive.
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