Huawei has revealed an “Indoor Coverage Digitalization Business Solution” that aims to help operators and building owners not only improve indoor coverage for wireless networks, but also make better use of it and potentially monetize it.
Indoor coverage has been a perennial issue for cellcos as they move to higher frequency bands, but the problem is becoming more complex as mobile data traffic grows and bandwidth demands escalate. Huawei cites stats from the GSMA indicating that mobile data traffic will increase at a CAGR of 49% over the next few years – and over 70% of that will be indoors. Moreover, indoor networks have to support increasing popular data-intensive apps such as online streaming, online games, and AR/VR applications.
Cellcos have to deal with all of that whilst also struggling with the usual challenges of site access (which also affects network planning). And the ROI on a given indoor network can take anywhere from four to eight years, depending on the venue.
Huawei’s indoor coverage digitalization business solution, unveiled at its Operations Transformation Forum 2017 event in Hong Kong Tuesday, essentially promises to fix all of this not just with indoor radio solutions like small cells, Wi-Fi and DAS, but also with network planning and consulting services.
Steven Zheng Ruguo, chief marketing officer of Huawei’s Global Technical Services, cited an example of Australian cellco Optus, who used Huawei’s solution for indoor site planning, identifying traffic hot spots, etc. Zheng explained that Huawei’s network planning solution takes multidimensional factors into account, including indoor and outdoor traffic differentiation, value hotspot identification, ROI analysis, and indoor network solution matching.
Result: predicting hotspot location accuracy improved from 60% to 85%, traffic grew 230% and ROI was not only calculated to 80% accuracy, but also reduced from seven or eight years to 3.5 years.
However, the centerpiece of the solution is a digital platform that enables indoor networks to support value-added services powered by big data analytics.
Zheng offered a case study in which China Mobile deployed the platform as part of its indoor coverage solution for the Wuxi Coastal City shopping mall.
“China Mobile is using this solution to provide customers with smart shopping services such as shopping navigation, smart parking, and precise promotions,” he said. “It also provides big data-based business services to the mall owner and shop owners, such as customer flow analysis, user profiling, and business insights.”
Zheng said since the platform was implemented, Coastal City has seen customer flow improve 40%, while shop memberships are up 16%. For China Mobile, mobile data usage inside the mall is up over 300% – and by creating a new B2B revenue source without having to spend a yuan on site access, the ROI period was reduced to three years.
Huawei also showcased its new Indoor Easy Pole, an indoor coverage solution designed to look like a charging station, so that it blends in with the environment. (In fact, it doesn’t just look like a charging station – people can actually use it to charge their phones.)