How mobile operators and enterprises can work together for smart enterprise mobility
We know that businesses want reliable mobile service for their staff, clients, visitors and, where necessary, the public – and the ability to deliver this everywhere, easily and cost-effectively, writes Costa Tsourkas, the head of business development at NEC UK.
Yet this is becoming increasingly difficult in new buildings. New building regulations concerning the materials and techniques used affect mobile service, and the vertical growth of cities themselves, make traditional outside-in mobile networks a challenge.
So what is the mobile industry doing about it?
What enterprise customers want
Often nothing is done. Especially as it is expensive to deploy distributed antenna systems (DAS), and equipment rooms with air conditioning and power for mobile operators to place their base stations in. Yet we know that enterprises, premises owners and tenants want enterprise mobile networks to be more like familiar technologies, such as Ethernet and Wi-Fi. They want to reuse and share standard switches and cables, and their existing enterprise broadband connection for mobile backhaul.
Enterprises want easy, rapid and flexible deployment and expandability, with low power consumption and total cost of ownership (TCO). Many want multi-operator services in order to support bring your own device (BYOD), contract staff, customers or suppliers visiting their offices.
- They want to add 4G without adding any extra hardware.
They also want mobile applications and integration options to their systems, like Unified Communications, IoT, presence and location based solutions.
The existing DAS systems and new proprietary systems from incumbent macrocell suppliers do not meet these requirements. Similarly, Wi-Fi has known limitations, in terms of security, unlicensed spectrum interference, range and quality of service management.
What is clear is that building owners represent a new small cells marketplace. They drive the business cases for in-building wireless systems, because they want to purchase reliable mobile solutions that meet their specific business needs. Within this marketplace supportive mobile network operators (MNOs) are necessary for spectrum, connection to mobile core networks and outdoor wide area coverage. System integrators can add value by joining the mobile enterprise network to business IT systems and processes. Operators benefit by getting free in-building overage and capacity, and potentially deepening their engagement with enterprise customers, creating new revenue streams for mobile solutions and using their licenced spectrum asset as a USP.
Property owners and tenants benefit from greatly improved mobile customer experience. Additionally, public venues with high footfall can monetise their investment and create new revenue-sharing opportunities by selling the network capacity of the small cells to operators. These current and future business needs remain largely unmet today. We can change that, with new enterprise mobility solutions, incorporating small cells, MEC and IoT platforms, integration expertise and local solution partners.
Mobile operators, neutral hosts, systems integrators like ourselves at NEC, owners and tenants of major commercial and public venues are starting to come together to create the new enterprise small cells marketplace.
In fact, solutions that meet the needs listed above do in fact exist. They have even been deployed by some leading mobile operators such as Vodafone, America Movil and Verizon. These new solutions allow mobile service to be deployed in harmony with Enterprise IT infrastructure and other building facilities. Enterprises and building owners can now work together with mobile operators, and have more control over how best to leverage mobile services into their business and technology strategies.