11 JANUARY 2018

When it comes to planning, measuring and tracking service coverage, mobile service providers have historically been focused on those of us at ground level. Working, driving and living with our feet, if not our phones, firmly planted on terra firma. For years, service providers have been using software tools and traditional drive tests to plan and optimize their mobile networks and services based on what amounts to a flat, 2D world.   But today, we depend on being connected everywhere – even the top floor of a high-rise building, looking down on the sea of cell towers below. Unfortunately, mobile networks weren’t really designed to provide coverage hundreds of feet above ground level, and service quality can drop as fast as the elevator rises.

It’s expected that the number of megacities, those with 10 million people or more, will double to 41 by 2030. By this stage, over 70% of the earth’s population will live in urban environments. Driven by this rapid growth, the popularity of ‘vertical cities’ is on the rise.  In Asia and the Middle East, some of the tallest record-breaking skyscrapers on the planet are being built today. But architects and urban planners aren’t typically concerned about cell coverage when designing their buildings, and about 98% of commercial buildings do not have dedicated systems to guarantee coverage.  Fortunately, new planning and optimization tools are available to accommodate our 3D world, helping to calm those angry penthouse residents that can’t get more than two bars of service.

It’s not just people and their personal devices that are moving ‘up’ in the world. A new armada of 5G enabled commercial drones will soon be hovering overhead.  Delivering packages, providing emergency services and analyzing our world from a bird’s point of view.  Cellular connectivity is a key technology for drone operations, but today’s networks simply weren’t designed with these flying machines in mind. Demand, however, is about to explode.

BI Intelligence expects commercial drone shipments to reach 805,000 in 2021, up from 102,600 in 2016.  And Goldman Sachs predicts this will create a $100 billion market opportunity, with construction and agriculture industries taking the lead.  This opens up new revenue opportunities for tech-savvy startups like Washington D.C.-based Measure, which recently raised $15 million in Series B funding to fly drones as a service for other businesses that want to do things like conduct inspections, capture videos, or gather other insights from on high. And while it sounds like a scary scene out of a science fiction movie, according to Robotics Business Review, predictions are that there will soon be an ‘internet’ of drones constantly hovering overhead, ready to be called into action whenever needed.  Data transfer is essential for drone operations and requires constant connectivity, which telecom operators can provide. But are they able to deliver quality connections to thousands of data-hungry devices at 400 feet in the air? Those service providers that can create specialized drone service offerings, and plan for and ensure quality network connections, will be the ones benefiting from the new business opportunities that are right around the corner.

At TEOCO, we have the software tools for planning, assuring, analyzing and optimizing networks and network expansions – for indoors, outdoors, and even up in the air. Our ASSET Suite of solutions covers radio, backhaul and capacity planning across the latest technologies, with ASSET Indoor capable of delivering in-building solution designs for the highest of skyscrapers. Mentor provides in-depth RAN analytics and optimization capabilities and the ability to analyze subscriber experience in 3D so you can differentiate between the quality of service subscribers experience at ground level versus on the top floors of a building.

Planning for the future is never easy- especially during today’s times of extreme technological ‘shifts’ in the market.  Fortunately, our advanced traffic modeling capabilities allow carriers to plan for current, and predict future, capacity requirements. “What-if” scenarios help to plan where to best deploy hardware or virtual components in heterogenous networks, and how to best use different technologies to meet the challenges of a quickly changing, always-connected world.  Whether it’s high rise buildings or flying drones, the world is becoming more connected by the minute. It’s time to make sure your network is ‘up’ to the task.

For more on how to prepare your network for what lies ahead, visit TEOCO’s ASSET Indoor for more information.