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Imagine a modern mixed-use complex spanning three blocks. Let’s call it Uptown Heights. 

The complex boasts luxurious residential apartments offering panoramic city views, alongside commercial office space that houses everything from tech startups to law firms. Bustling retail stores, high-end boutiques and trendy restaurants are on the ground floor. Across the way, there’s an upscale move theatre and a concert venue that regularly features performances from top artists. 

All these amenities depend on reliable cellular reception, but their specific connectivity requirements are as varied as the spaces themselves.  

  • Residents need stable connections for video streaming, video calls with family and friends, and smart home integrations.  
  • Professionals in commercial office spaces count on uninterrupted connections for virtual meetings and large data transfers.  
  • Retailers rely on point-of-sale systems that require dependable cellular backup while customers use their mobile devices to access online deals, share social media updates, or flash e-tickets.  
  • In the entertainment venues, large audiences can result in long lines and highly congested network, but quick and consistent cellular connectivity are still essential for downloading e-tickets or using interactive apps to get information about events. 

So, how do the property owners and managers of this mixed-use complex ensure every user has access to the cellular connectivity they need? And how can they best monetize the spectrum of advanced connectivity capabilities that are now available, so they can realize longer-term value over the next five to ten years? In short, what value can they unlock for everyone by offering advanced connectivity? 

A Business Essential 

“Let’s face it. Connectivity is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’—it’s a must,” explains Jeff Gudewicz, Wilson Electronics’ Chief Technology Officer, “Most of us don’t have wired phones at work anymore. And if they’re slowly disappearing in commercial spaces, they’re almost completely gone in public spaces.”  

“Because 4G-LTE coverage has become so pervasive, our habits have changed. We used to actively seek out public WiFi, and now we avoid it because of the risk and inconvenience. And even if it’s a legitimate WiFi connection, we might find ourselves on a timer or watching ads to be able to send that email we need to get out.” 

The Most Common Connectivity Considerations in Mixed-Use Spaces 

While every mixed-use complex is different, the challenges they face are generally the same—and so are the factors that influence the technology solution chosen to ensure the best possible cellular coverage. 

  • User density: Assess the number of potential simultaneous users. A large auditorium might need a different solution than a conference room or private office. 
  • Coverage areas: Identify the exact areas where coverage is needed. Do you need to cover every single room, including basements, parking lots, and stairwells? Or is there a specific area where coverage tends to drop? 
  • Usage patterns: Is data more critical than voice? Are video calls common? What about file transfers, business app use, and messaging? Do you need coverage for 2-way radio or public safety bands? 
  • Building materials: Certain materials like concrete, metal, and low-e glass can impede cellular signals. An indoor repeater system can help you overcome these obstacles. 
  • Current systems: Are there existing systems (WiFi, fiber cabling, or others) that can be leveraged or that might interfere with new installations? 

Technologies for Advanced Indoor Connectivity—and Which is Right for Uptown Heights 

Repeater systems, which often use coax cable, are typically best for spaces of less than 75k square feet, so the coverage area is limited. One advantage of repeater systems, however, is they are carrier agnostic, so they will accommodate most users no matter which carrier they’re on. Still, the smaller coverage area could rule out a repeater system for large complexes like the one described above. 

DAS solutions are designed for larger spaces. They may even be able to leverage existing fiberoptic cable that runs throughout the building or connects multiple buildings. In a hybrid configuration, DAS solutions may be used with repeaters to extend the coverage and quality of the system, or they can be connected to a carrier base station.  Either way, DAS solutions are the most ideal advanced connectivity technology for a mixed-use complex like Upscale Heights. 

A private cellular network is a self-contained telecommunications system that provides cellular connectivity exclusively for a specific organization or location, independent of public carriers. It isn’t ideal for mixed-use environments.  

Carrier solutions for indoor connectivity are tailored to their own mobile network. These may include small cell solutions (including femtocells, picocells, and microcells), which provide excellent coverage for single buildings. The carriers may support the implementation in some way, depending on the number of their subscribers that may be impacted. However, because these solutions are exclusive to a single carrier, they are not recommended for mixed-used environments where users from various carriers will need coverage. 

Assessing the Big Picture 

While we provided Uptown Heights as a hypothetical scenario, try to think of most buildings as mixed-use spaces—with everyone relying on mobile connectivity today for a variety of functions. There are always guests involved, employees with different cell plans, and an ever-increasing number of IoT devices and safety and security systems being deployed.  

Ensuring seamless indoor connectivity and enhanced user experiences involves a variety of factors. Whether managing an office complex, shopping mall, healthcare facility, or educational institution, organizations today need to make informed decisions about indoor connectivity by carefully assessing their unique needs, budget constraints, and building characteristics.  

Clearly, you need a connectivity solution that addresses the widest range of user requirements. WilsonPro leads the market in amplified connectivity with adaptable, scalable connectivity infrastructure and agile deployments. Our systems can be installed quickly and come with expert support, accelerating your time-to-value and ensuring future readiness. Contact us today to discuss your needs. 

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