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December 14, 2012

What Will 2013 Bring on the Wireless Infrastructure Front?

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

One of the biggest growth areas in wireless is expected to be what’s called “indoor wireless,” or technologies to improve wireless connectivity in homes, businesses and retail establishments. Many of today’s solutions for indoor wireless simply aren’t cutting it, and service remains intermittent and inconsistent.

Many technology experts today maintain that existing Wi-Fi networks are ill-suited for indoor wireless networks, and see a lot of potential for improvement.

Microsoft studied the problem in a research paper several years ago, and came to the conclusion that indoor wireless networks not only need to be better designed, but use fundamentally different technology.

“Wireless nodes a short distance apart but separated by several walls or doors may not connect, while nodes can connect to far-away nodes that are on a line-of-sight (or separated by semi-transparent barriers such as glass),” wrote the report’s authors.

For starters, the Microsoft (News - Alert) researchers recommend switching the channel: instead of the current Wi-Fi ISM bands, the authors suggested the use of TV bands. The possibility of using these bands increased when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) approved the unlicensed use of the so-called “white spaces” below 900 MHz and formerly used by analog TV channels.

The report also recommended decreasing transmission power and using advanced signal processing and better antenna design techniques.

Needless to say, many companies have stepped into the breach to advance the technologies and solutions in indoor wireless. One of them, wireless locations solutions provider Polaris Wireless, recently spoke with TMCnet about what it sees ahead for the wireless industry, and more specifically, the indoor wireless segment.

According to Polaris VP of Marketing and Business Development, Bhavin Shah, the company plans improvements in indoor location wireless by incorporating sensors in smartphones and network elements such as distributed antenna systems (DAS) and small cells. Small cells are low-powered access nodes with a range of between 10 and 200 meters, designed to boost indoor wireless connectivity as they can be located within buildings. (Let’s face it: you can’t exactly put a cell tower in an office building.)

Shah said demand is growing for indoor wireless, and Polaris plans to meet the demand.

“This demand came from both emergency callers, for whom accurate indoor location is a life or death matter, and commercial location-based services providers, who require accurate indoor location for location-based advertising and mobile marketing,” he said.

Shah also expects the FCC will establish some guidelines regarding indoor location for E911 calls, as it has done generally for all E911 calls.

With more and more Americans carrying smartphones and looking for both voice and data connectivity in indoor locations, the need is becoming urgent.

Another growth area for the Mountain Valley, California-based company will likely be wireless security, particularly in the government sector.

“[We are seeing] government agencies increasingly rely on accurate mass location -- the ability to locate all mobile devices in a given area – to better target suspects and increase the efficiency of law enforcement field agents, given constrained budgets,” said Shah.

In 2013, Polaris Wireless plans to augment its Altus intelligent surveillance application to enable advanced national security applications based on high-accuracy location and complementary data streams. One outcome will be the ability to perform predictive analytics based on location-based “big data” and anticipate suspect movements.

These features are expected to better enable global expansion of public safety and security applications, given the penetration of mobile devices especially in emerging markets.

Shah adds that it’s expected that governments will amend laws and invest in more strategic solutions such as cyber security and location surveillance as compared to tactical solutions such as tanks and missiles, to target and prevent terrorism.

One thing is certain: 2013 will be a pivotal year for advanced wireless infrastructure and technologies. 

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker
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