Every day, it is becoming more common for enterprise IT departments—including those at colleges and universities—to get requests or instructions to improve the wireless coverage in and around their facilities.

The first challenge that such an IT department will face is the need to understand a new set of equipment and technologies, including how they will coexist with current infrastructure.

Once the technical aspects are well understood, plus the context aspects of integrators and wireless operators likely being involved, the IT team will face a significant challenge—the funding.

The IT department will be fortunate if its enterprise already has budget allocated for a distributed antenna system (DAS), though this is not often the case. In most cases, if there is a budget, it is because it was requested during the prior fiscal year with sufficient business reasons to make it available. However, when no budget is available and many entities inside the enterprise are requesting the IT department to find a solution, what are the funding options?

There are basically three common funding options for deploying an enterprise DAS: fund it internally, use a neutral host model (a third party company that owns, installs and operates the DAS), or get a wireless operator to pay for it. It is not uncommon to utilize a mix of these alternatives, though each enterprise case needs to be analyzed independently. Any company, be it a neutral host or an operator interested in funding a DAS, will need to have sufficient justification for the investment. They will run a return on investment (ROI) analysis to make sure their economical models will translate into a positive source of revenue over a certain period of time.

The IT department might have different funding options and sometimes different economic expectations than a neutral host or operator. I believe it is extremely important, before engaging in funding discussions, that the IT department has a clear understanding of their stakeholders and the implications that selecting a certain funding model will have in the long term. Most likely, those stakeholders are urging the IT department to find an immediate solution, perhaps encouraging the IT department to speed through a thorough funding options analysis. But I urge IT professionals to do your due diligence at this stage. Different sets of drivers will be more suited to certain funding models than others. You may find your funding, but you should ensure that the funding option you choose is well aligned with your overall strategy and expectations. And if you don’t yet have an overall DAS/wireless strategy, you might want to think about crafting that as well.

For more information about DAS funding options, replay this recent webinar put together by HetNet Forum and ACUTA, in which I participated. You can also download the presentation slides. If you are looking for some basic background information about DAS, check out chapter 13 of our Understanding the RF Path ebook. If you have any questions, leave me a comment.

About the Author

Nestor Salvado

Nestor Salvado is sales director for Global Partners, In-Building Wireless at CommScope, having previously served as an in-building wireless regional technical manager and director of business development for the company. Nestor has nearly 20 years of wireless industry experience in various technical and customer support roles. He joined CommScope in 2010 after working for Nokia, and later Nokia Siemens Networks, for 12 years. Nestor holds an MBA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and an MSEE from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. Nestor has enjoyed meeting customers across the globe, conducting business mainly in Europe, Japan and the Americas.

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Comments

4 comments for "Do Your DAS Funding Due Diligence"
Nestor Salvado

Thanks Danilo for your feedback and I am glad you found it interesting!

malose

Thanks Nestor, very interesting and informative article. In our country we still see one business model existing, carrier owned solutions. Sometime I see it disadvantaging or slowing indoor coverage roll out because its always dependent on their budget and if they see good ROI in a particular building.

MT - Danilo Vargas

Nestor, we really enjoyed this article. Thank you! I think your advice is spot on. And it resonates with us because Mexicana de Telecomunicaciones works with many universities in Mexico and we see the challenges they face. Like you said, it's about considering the options and then understanding implications for the various (and numerous) stakeholders. Thanks again for a great post! Looking forward to your future insights!

Nestor Salvado

Thanks for your comment. Completely agree. There is a large amount of single carrier owned solutions. There are many reasons why carriers might prefer to be the only carrier although probably not adequate for most enterprise who need a multicarrier solution. Independently whether a solution is single or multi carrier, carrier owned or not, the carriers always need to evaluate the ROI. Even if the DAS is owned by Enterprise the carrier still has to evaluate their ROI for a potential CAPEX investment in BTS's and the OPEX of the system.

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