|iBwave: The In-Building Standard|
It’s a great time for the inbuilding network industry and iBwave is paving the way.
iBwave’s software suite, strategic consulting and certification programs have been adopted by over 280 telecom leaders worldwide, solidifying their position as leaders in the in-building industry.
In this feature, Mario Bouchard, President and CEO of iBwave talks about the in-building space and iBwave’s role within the ecosystem. TR: Can you give us a background on iBwave?
We founded iBwave in 2003 on the belief that it was only a matter of time before cell phone usage would become a pre-dominant means of communication, mostly occurring indoors. Hand made Excel spreadsheets, AutoCAD plans, complicated logarithms and formulas and a high margin for error filled the workdays of in-building designers. The industry needed a solution that could fuse all of the tools, files and knowledge used for inbuilding network design, in order to save time and costs. This led to the development of our flagship product, iBwave Design. We have evolved iBwave Design to encompass all aspects of in-building design by adding modules and by incorporating the latest standards and technologies involved in mobile broadband, including HSPA+, LTE and Wi-Fi. In addition, we recently launched iBwave Unity which is an inbuilding network management platform allowing anyone involved in an in-building project to manage all of their projects nationwide. iBwave Unity also features data mining capabilities and report generation tools for deployments and financial cost controls, which dramatically save time and consequently, costs. We see iBwave Unity as the logical next step for any organization looking to efficiently manage their in building network projects throughout their entire lifecycle from beginning to end.
TR: iBwave’s mission is to create a standard within the in-building industry and to set specific guidelines for designing and planning in-building wireless solutions. Can you elaborate more on this?
Having come from the operator world, our approach has always been very practical in terms of understanding customer perspectives and using this knowledge to create innovative products. We strongly believe that for the in-building market to continue gaining momentum and acceptance, a common tool needs to be in place to provide all parties of the ecosystem the ability to use and share projects in a standard file format. This is iBwave Design. Over the past seven years, we have worked diligently at supporting the ecosystem and, as a result, we’ve been able to secure all tier-1 wireless operators in North America as clients, along with hundreds of their system integrators and equipment manufacturers. These customers have impressive results with some reporting a 200% increase in design productivity. iBwave President and CEO Mario Bouchard
TR: Can you please elaborate on iBwave’s network components database and the key role it plays within in-building network management?
We have developed the components database to alleviate the pain of manually searching for the right equipment through various product catalogues during the in-building network planning stage. Our database is a consolidation of over 5,000 components and is available in iBwave Design or freely accessible on our website, making it easy for RF engineers to choose the right equipment based on project specifications and budget.
TR: iBwave recently launched a training and certification program. Do you believe that this will be an asset for people seeking a job in the in-building wireless industry?
Given the unprecedented growth of in-building, the industry is now facing a shortage of specialized in-building RF professionals. This shortage has led to the creation of the iBwave Certification program. Since the launch of the certification program in 2010, enrollment has quadrupled and I can only see continued growth for its future. Some organizations have already started looking for iBwave Certification in their RF professional candidates so I believe it’s just a matter of time before this becomes a requirement for certain positions in the industry.
TR: Given the wireless industry’s migration toward HSPA+ and LTE, what is the resulted impact on in-building networks?
HSPA+ and LTE are all about increasing data capacity. If you look at the history of wireless networking, there have been three ways to increase capacity: technology, spectrum and topology. On the technology front, we are quickly reaching a physical limit as you can only squeeze so much additional bit rates/hertz out of a frequency. In regards to spectrum, adding it is becoming very difficult, time consuming and carries a hefty price tag. Data traffic is set to grow some 30 to 50 times over the next four years. Increasing spectrum and technology may be able to increase capacity by a factor of six times well short of the expected data growth rates. With so much of the traffic being generated indoors, it is clear that topology will be the dominant way to increase capacity. But the key is to deploy the technology properly. For HSPA+ and LTE to work at the speeds that they were designed to work, the networks need to be physically close to the users and since the users are indoors, small cells are emerging as the optimum solution to successfully achieve this goal.
TR: Do you see Wi-Fi as a good option for data offload?
The popularity of Wi-Fi is raising a lot of discussion in the in-building industry. It is a very well known technology among end users since most smartphones and tablets have it embedded in the device and it is commonly perceived as a free access solution. Therefore, it’s natural that users and operators are looking at it to offload congested networks. In terms of data offload, I see Wi- Fi as part of the solution but not the solution. Wi-Fi technology as it is today has many interferencerelated limitations due to limited unlicensed spectrum. Device battery consumption and user experience are also concerns. Offloading to Wi-Fi will need more innovation in the future in order to ensure proper interaction between it and licensed technologies and therefore guarantee the end user’s quality of experience.
TR: What is next on your calendar for 2011?
2011 marks a paradigm shift in the in-building industry. Until now, the industry didn’t put a big emphasis on planning for in-building deployment, there were little to no experts and the innovations were limited. Inbuilding is now becoming a basic necessity, much like electricity. Resources are increasingly focusing on this need, it is receiving a lot of media attention and the big players are getting onboard. We have been diligently developing our products in anticipation of this market boom and we see the results in our company growth. We also chose this year to host our first user group, in partnership with the DAS Congress, at the end of May in Las Vegas where we aim to create a discussion and exchange base with our customers and plan for the future of the in-building network industry with them. We’re very excited about this event and hope to make it an annual gathering of the inbuilding community.
TR: How is iBwave responding to the in-building market expansion and what are iBwave’s plans for the future of the in-building industry?
Our team is at the forefront of an industry which is evolving more and more rapidly each year. The importance of creating standards only continues to increase and iBwave has welcomed this challenge with open arms. iBwave is a pioneer in the inbuilding network industry and I am proud to say that we are now the in-building standard as we were able to tackle the demand for standardized information early on. iBwave’s primary goal is to be nimble and proactive at anticipating market trends. This is the attitude that got us where we are now and it’s with this attitude that we will continue to drive the future.