The growing use of mobile data in homes and offices and the move to the next generation of mobile network technology are increasing the need for in-building mobile systems, according to systems integrator Consistel.
"Phones are becoming more of an interface with your eyes," now people are using data more than voice, said Consistel CEO Masoud Bassiri, speaking at CommunicAsia on Wednesday. As a result, mobile phones are less mobile; data users are often in buildings rather than on the move, he said.
In addition, telcos are rolling out LTE services in higher frequencies than 2G and 3G services, which inherently provide poorer in-building coverage.
"The only way to reach the users who are using a lot of data is by wiring up the building," Bassiri said.
But that can be an expensive business for telecoms operators; in Singapore, the cost for in-building wiring has risen to 60% of their in-building capex, up from 5% a few years ago.
"It's the messiest part of this industry," said Bassiri.
Consistel has developed a software product, essentially a complex database of buildings, complete with floor plans, wiring diagrams and everything required for an in-building project. It also includes inventory management, so no materials are wasted. "40% of the cost of a build is the materials," Bassiri said.
"The only thing that's not automated is the physical installation," he added, noting that the company is working on automating the procurement process too.
Bassiri claims that this database, which took four years to build at a cost of $14 million in R&D, provides users with savings of 65% in manpower and 30% on cost.
Consistel was responsible for wiring the newly-built Marina Bay Sands, the location of CommunicAsia for the past two years. The project included 4,500 antennas, 120km of coaxial cable and 75km of fibre-optic cable, Bassiri informed the audience. It involved the integration of 12 systems – 2G, 3G, iDEN, Tetra and Tetrapol – from four operators and the Singapore police force.