Last week, Ericsson announced it’s so-called “Radio Dot System,” an in-building cellular solution aimed at providing 3G and 4G services, potentially leveraging existing indoor cabling and potentially even using existing outdoor infrastructure for capacity. There have been plenty of write-ups on it, but if you haven’t seen our analysis, you should check it out here.
One of the recurring questions around Ericsson’s new solution is the use-case – particularly when compared with DAS. Ericsson might claim that the Dot System can scale to “virtually unlimited capacity,” but for large-scale deployments, building owners often want a neutral host infrastructure that supports multiple operators, and this just isn’t the thinking behind Dot. Sure, multiple operators could share one common Dot, but it would be a kludge.
So, what’s the thinking around deployment models?
For all of the fun Spider Cloud has had at Ericsson’s expense enlisting the support of the Swedish chef, and then carrying the theme forward), the two seem to share a vision that’s broadly aligned. Spider Cloud is aiming to give operators a tool for delivering coverage and capacity into the enterprise, in the process building a sales channel into the enterprise. Ericsson, in explaining a potential Radio Dot use case, points to the idea of an operator becoming the preferred carrier partner of a large enterprise account like Coca Cola, improving in-building coverage as part of the deal. Analysts and the press seem to have gotten confused about how this would bump up against employee choices and BYOD models. “Would everyone at Coke be forced onto AT&T,” someone asked me in trying to wrap their head around the example. Ultimately, however, the model isn’t about operator’s staking out in-building coverage exclusivity. It’s about developing a relationship, and the goal would be to get deeper into the account than just selling mobile voice and data. The goal would be a relationship that extends to managed services, hosted apps, device management and a myriad of other services.
It’s an ambitious vision and, ultimately, nobody knows how big the opportunity is. In part, this is because it depends on how serious operators are to push into the enterprise and how credible they can be in bundling services.