To follow is a Q&A with Colin Abrey, Chief Marketing Officer at Zinwave; an exhibitor at next week’s Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific event in Singapore.
Q: As an exhibitor at our upcoming Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific event in Singapore, can you give us an overview of the products and solutions you offer the sports venue market?
A: Zinwave is a global provider of wideband active Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) for in-building wireless coverage. The intuitive design of our wideband active DAS enables easy connection to any wireless service, wherever you may be in a building. Our in-building coverage solution is based on patented technology and is the only true wideband Active DAS on the market. It supports all frequencies and services between 150MHz and 2700 MHZ over a single hardware layer. This flexibility ensures cost-effective and optimised coverage for all current and future wireless services. Our unique solution is quick to deploy, scalable and provides the flexibility to add new services and frequency bands as and when needed, without having to invest in supplementary hardware or infrastructure. Our approach offers a truly future proof investment which means no expensive upgrades and no disruption to the building in the future when adding new frequencies or services.
Q: It could be argued that sports venues initially lagged behind some other sectors in recognising the need to incorporate in-building wireless coverage, would you say that in your experience of speaking to sports venue managers and operators that this is now changing?
A: Zinwave is witnessing increased activity within the sporting arena community and we have been successful in growing our business in this vertical. The advent of 4G around the world is only adding fuel to this increased activity. Mobile Network Operators (MNO) have significant challenges in their networks as they seek to satify this ever increasing demand for mobile data. Sports stadiums are at the extreme end of this challenge for a number of reasons, not least of which is the sheer density of cellular uses in a concentrated area, all of which have data usage patterns that are linked to the timing of the sporting event. This leads to significant spikes in demand for data at certain times. Actually, there are two main aspects to be considered in provisioning services within sports stadiums; these are coverage (delivering the wireless services throughout the stadium) and capacity (providing the necessary support to deliver the huge data demand from such a large number of people). The DAS provides the coverage, while capacity is provided by the MNOs via their base stations. However, there is a clear relationship between the two considerations. Given the huge demand within a sports stadium the DAS needs to be designed in such a way that the maximum demand is supported. Many of us have been inside major sporting venues with maximum signal showing on our handsets only to find that we are unable to make a call or to access the Internet. Where this happens it is an example of the two issues not being considered as a single system; in other words, the coverage has been designed to provide good wireless performance, but capacity has been forgotten and the system struggles at peak times. As the demand for mobile data increases the requirement to design support for this capacity into the DAS becomes key. The result is that sporting venues require a large number of cellular sectors to be deployed, which ensures enough capacity is concentrated on smaller groups of users. In the past, high power DAS would have been the choice for stadia, but this new sectorisation requirement is moving the sports stadium vertical towards Zinwave’s architecture, because our medium power units are designed for concentrated coverage across the full service mix.
Q: What are the main benefits for a venue in using your DAS technology? Presumably they open up more ways for a venue to make more revenue and engage with the fans?
A: There are a number of benefits to the venue that can be seen from deploying a DAS. In common with most verticals, there is a drive to connect with customers and users, in this case the fans. This engagement leads to marketing opportunities, loyalty and increased quality of experience while the fans are in the venue. The DAS is the solution used to deliver these wireless services, but can also lead to other benefits particularly when using Zinwave’s wideband DAS. For example, Zinwave’s wideband capability provides an infrastructure that can, almost cost free, also simultaneously support security PMR and public safety Tetra in a way traditional DAS cannot. In addition, the Zinwave solution can simultaneously carry WiFi services or, via its integrated IP infrastructure, support IP services (such as cameras and WiFi APs) at the edge. This is a level of flexibility and cost efficiency that is only available with Zinwave’s wideband architecture.
Q: Is it just the system integrators you work with on these kind of projects or do you also work directly with venue managers and operators? And, in terms of new build projects, how important is it that you are involved at the start of project planning?
A: We do typically work with a system integrator so that a full turnkey solution can be provided. However, we are heavily involved and will often be responsible for the propagation modelling and commissioning of the system. With this level of involvement we will certainly have an open involvement with the venue owner/manager, their IT provider and the MNOs. It is becoming increasingly common for wireless coverage to be a consideration at the early stages of a new building. This is because the issues surrounding wireless performance and the need to have coverage and capacity dedicated to a building are becoming more widely understood and accepted. There are a number of benefits to having this early view, which would include minimised disruption, lower cost installation, time for solid consideration of all issues, improved engagement with the MNOs, planning for cable containment, comms room space, power provisioning, revision of designs to reflect building changes, etc.
Q: Have you already supplied your technology to any sports projects and if so can you give us some examples?
A: Yes, Zinwave has been deployed in a number of large sporting venues, including Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex (NSC) in Kiev, the National Stadium in Warsaw, Pepsi Center in Denver, University of Montana Stadium and Montana State University Stadium. We have a number of very large stadiums awarded, but are unable to name them at this time.
Q: As an exhibitor at our Stadia & Arena event in Singapore, have you identified Asia Pacific as a region offering significant growth and opportunities for the company?
A: Yes, Zinwave has already deployed a number of large projects in Asia and expect this region to show us significant growth over the coming years. One of the vertical markets we are keen to target global is the large sporting venues, as we have already seen major success and it is a vertical that suits our wideband architecture really well.
Q: In addition to fixed sports venues, are you also able to work with sports authorities or organising committees bidding for or organising major sporting events?
A: Yes, completely. Zinwave is a relatively new DAS entrant and have not had this opportunity in the past, but we are reapidly getting our message across and building market share. We have recently been acquired by McWane inc., which has given us the ability and resources required to expand quickly. During 2014, we have been recruiting staff agressively and we are seeing rapid penetration around the world in our key markets.
Colin Abrey is Chief Marketing Officer at Zinwave.
Zinwave is one of the many industry-leading exhibitors taking part in next week’s Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific conference and exhibition being held at the new Singapore Sports Hub, September 24-26. Make sure to register today to guarantee your place at this must-attend event.