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Keeping Guests Happy with FORTÉ In-Building, Multi-Operator Cellular Service

A funny thing happens to hotel guests that find themselves with no coverage while inside the hotel. Instead of dialing “611” and complaining to their wireless operator, hotel guests have a strong tendency to blame the hotel. For hotels that cater to business travelers and host meetings and/or conventions, this issue is particularly acute. Thanks to the reach of social media and the importance of ratings and comments on travel websites, individual guests have tremendous power to influence buying decisions of future guests.

This perception that bad cellular service is the hotel’s fault turns an external cellular network issue into a problem the hotelier has to solve. This problem is multiplied by four in the U.S. because of the need assure that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile phones all work to the guests’ satisfaction. Hoteliers have had no choice but to seek a solution to their cellular coverage problems to keep guests happy and conventions returning year after year.

Until now, mid-sized business hotels in the range of 100 to 500 guest rooms have had nowhere to turn for a solution. Distributed antenna systems (DAS) have been successfully installed in very large properties but the economics won’t work for mid-tier properties. Even if the owner or manager buys a DAS, it is by definition only an antenna system. Separate from the equipment investment, the property must convince all four of the wireless operators to bring a radio source and connect to the DAS in their building. This requires an investment of several hundred thousand dollars by each operator. Far more times than not, the operators chose not to participate in a mid-sized building. As a result, the word is out in the hospitality industry that a DAS investment is high risk and new deployments are few and far between.

ClearSky has changed the market dynamics with our FORTÉ® in-building, multi-operator small cell system. Thanks to FORTÉ, a property can pick coverage from any or all of the U.S. Tier 1 operators (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint) and cellular service is guaranteed. Rather than using DAS, ClearSky uses operator-approved, enterprise-class small cell systems to create indoor coverage. Not only is operator participation guaranteed, the FORTÉ systems work in perfect harmony with standard IT infrastructure such as Cat 5/6 cabling and Ethernet switching. In fact, a FORTÉ system installation looks much more like an enterprise Wi-Fi deployment than it does a cellular radio system.
Hospitality is not the only market facing pressure for improved cellular service. Health care facilities, multi-family housing and university campuses are other examples of facilities that can solve cellular coverage problems with FORTÉ. Learn more by visiting http://forte.csky.com.

NetView 360 Can Increase Your Christmas Bonus

One of the problems in most MNO organizations is that various departments often operate as silos which makes it difficult for all the departments to work together to attain over arching business objectives. This lack of communication not only hamstrings the business but can also have an impact on end of year bonuses. This being the holiday season, we, at ClearSky, thought we would share at least one example of how ClearSky can ensure that your network engineering department works in concert with your sales and marketing departments to maximize your annual bonus.
Recently, a client used the ClearSky NetView 360® service to baseline, their UMTS network and audit their LTE network design. Their UMTS and LTE networks operate on 700MHz and 1900MHz, respectively. Base lining and auditing two networks on two different carriers is easily accomplished using NetView 360. Moreover, NetView 360 does this all at 4m resolution for traffic maps and 1m resolution for RF propagation. That in and of itself is a huge differentiator as compared to other legacy RF design tools on the market today. ClearSky further differentiated the service by being able to augment the RF analysis with sales and marketing information, or any operational metrics (i.e. churn, ARPU, etc.).
In this particular project, the MNO divided their serving area, which was an entire country, into many individual “marketing zones.” The MNO also prioritized which marketing zones were more important to them for financial and/or competitive reasons. Specifically, ClearSky provided Google Earth zone polygons, which were converted into a format that enabled statistical analysis within the polygons. The MNO also provided an economic list in PDF format, which was converted to a map of all neighborhoods. Weightings provided by the MNO were applied to enable a statistical analysis within each neighborhood.

By incorporating the MNO’s sales and marketing data into NetView 360, ClearSky was able to not only show where the network performance was poor, but was also able to show that in a variety of ways by marketing zone! This made it very easy for the MNO to decide how to prioritize their network improvements and where those improvements would best advance their over arching business objectives. Hello annual bonus!

“Dangerously Hot Temperatures Expected as Massive Heat Dome Envelops Much of U.S.”

You may have noticed that the La Niña conditions have brought hotter-than-normal weather to most of the U.S. this summer. According to meteorologists at the Weather Channel, only central and south Texas are likely to escape the heat. Here in Orlando the heat index has been over 100 degrees almost every day for the past two months. My family and I decided to head to the Pacific Northwest to get some respite, and ran into 108 degree weather in Pendleton, Oregon!
So what does this have to do with the wireless industry? Well, here’s the connection: Although the weather has been hot, densifying networks with small cells might be even hotter! According to industry sources, deployment of macro base stations has reached a saturation point-where further economic investment is not justified. One major manufacturer of base stations boldly states that HetNets are the only path forward.

In spite of the economic challenges the cellular operators are facing, their customers still crave reliable, ubiquitous coverage. Intelligent deployment of small cells can make a giant leap toward simultaneously meeting the economic and technical challenges. Nearly four years ago, ClearSky launched its SCaaS (Small Cell as a Service) offering that enabled operators in North America to enhance both coverage and capacity where needed. We launch, operate, maintain, upgrade and monitor the small cell gateway, dramatically reducing the capital cost and operating expenses borne by the operator.

But to solve the problem efficiently, it is crucial to know exactly where small cell installation will produce the biggest “bang for the buck.” Our carrier clients have surgically deployed small cells in residences, businesses, and in busy outdoor venues. The most common obstacle to solving coverage and capacity issues is confirming where such issues exist. ClearSky’s NetView 360® HetNet planning tool compares traffic demand with actual coverage, and makes specific recommendations on how to address the issues it uncovers-build new macros, add indoor/outdoor small cells, or a combination. NetView 360 can even take into account the availability of backhaul attachment points for each new access point.

As we endure the last few weeks of extreme summer heat, the ClearSky team is ready, willing and able to help you identify “hot spots” in your network, and give your subscribers the “sizzling” data speeds and coverage they thirst for.

Pokémon NO or Pokémon GO

Anyone who has a pulse and can fog a mirror has witnessed the phenomenal arrival of Pokémon GO in all walks of their lives. Here are some recent statistics about Pokémon GO:

  • #1 and Counting: Pokémon GO hit 100 million installs worldwide the first weekend of August. The game reached 50 million Android downloads in record time —     19 days — shattering the old mark of 50 million downloads in 77 days. Apple reported that Pokémon GO earned the most downloads ever on the App Store during a launch week! And what about the money? Pokémon GO has now reached daily revenues of more than $10 million dollars.
  • 21,000,000: This is the number of daily active users of Pokémon GO in the U.S. as estimated by Survey Monkey. If accurate, this makes Pokémon GO the most popular mobile game in U.S. history, but it’s not just rival games that GO has eclipsed. By some estimates, GO is overtaking the world’s biggest social networks too. On Android, at least, the game is now bigger than Twitter. And just to be clear: this is just the U.S.
  • $23 billion: That’s how much Nintendo’s value soared by in the weeks after the release of Pokémon GO, an increase of 120%, as demand for stock reached the same levels of hype as the game itself. This marks the single biggest jump in the company’s fortunes since the 1980s, and for a moment, even helped Nintendo surpass rival Sony in value, an astonishing feat given the sales share of its Wii U console versus the mighty PlayStation 4.

Given the above statistics every MNO should be asking:

  1. How much data traffic does Pokémon GO add to my network?
  2. How popular is Pokémon GO with my current subscriber base?
  3. How bandwidth intensive is Pokémon GO relative to other protocols on my network (e.g., Netflix, YouTube, etc.)?
  4. How can we turn this phenomenon into a win for our business?  (Where a “win” is defined to mean incremental revenue and/or the ability to reduce churn.)

If you don’t have the requisite traffic analysis and management platform to answer the first three questions, then your only options are to do nothing, or to create new Pokémon GO data plans and hope you don’t clog your network with traffic you can’t handle. In the best case, you will generate a flood of calls to your support center or in the worse case, increase subscriber churn-and no MNO wants either of those outcomes.

ClearSky’s Total Traffic Manager (TTM) can answer the first three questions for you and much more. If you already use ClearSky’s TTM service, great! We’re eager to help you analyze your Pokémon GO data traffic. If not, please call us and we’ll help you decide if you should Pokémon NO or Pokémon GO!

GCI Deploys Northernmost Small Cell in America

“Can you hear me now? How about now?” When was the last time you had that exact same conversation? Everybody expects excellent cellular service whether they’re outside or indoors —  regardless of their proximity to a cell site. And when Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) cannot deliver on the promise of ubiquitous coverage, subscribers tend to vote with their feet.

As the top provider of voice, data and video services in Alaska, GCI recently signed a multi-year contract for ClearSky’s Small Cell as a Service (SCaaS) offering. SCaaS enables GCI to deploy residential and enterprise small cells to address coverage challenges unique to Alaska.

GCI has since deployed many residential small cells and has recently begun deploying enterprise small cells. The Juneau Police Department was the first location to benefit from GCI’s enterprise small cell capabilities and now enjoys 5-bar coverage. “This is a win-win for us and the Juneau Police Department,” said Dan Boyette, GCI Vice President of Wireless. “Any GCI subscriber employed by the Juneau Police Department, as well as citizens that visit the police department, now have excellent in-building coverage, In addition to making customers happy, GCI has increased network capacity by offloading a percentage of traffic from our macro network.”

GCI is currently in the process of deploying enterprise small cells at Pump Station 1, located on the North Slope of Alaska, at Prudhoe Bay. When deployed, GCI will have the unique distinction of operating the northernmost small cell in the United States.