Posted on October 17, 2017

How Do I Improve Cell Signal in a Hospital?

Phil Bloomberg

Vice President of Commercial Sales

Improve cell signal in a hospitalHospitals can be both joyous and somber places. No matter why people are there, they all share the need to communicate with friends and family to share important information or details surrounding the reason for the visit. (Not to mention that there are few things more Instagrammable than a newborn!)  

Connecting a call or getting online in a hospital building is rarely a seamless or easy process though. In fact, hospitals are notorious for their lack of cellular coverage. There are a few reasons for this, but the major one comes down to the construction materials used in these buildings. Not only are hospital walls forged with materials that hamper cellular signals, including concrete and steel, they’re made to be stronger and thicker than the walls in many other buildings.

But a cellular connection that relies on a signal from an outside tower penetrating the building walls is no match for materials meant to withstand fires, floods, hurricanes and all other manner of disasters. Although protecting a building filled with patients, flammable oxygen and other materials is paramount, a lack of cell service can be frustrating for patients, their families, and the staff members that rely on cellular connection to do their job. While employees on the hospital floor can find workarounds, including voice-over IP (VOIP) cell phones that work on hospital Wi-Fi, this does little to help hospital patrons and employees that need to make a call or access a cloud-based patient database. Visitors and patients rely on their cell phones to communicate with others outside the hospital, while many employees rely on Internet to access the systems necessary to do their jobs.

No-call zones

The fact that many areas of hospitals typically prohibit cellular voice calls is another reason these buildings are plagued by poor cellular signal. In many areas, such as radiology, there is no incentive to improve signal because cellular voice calls can interfere with operations. In these areas, poor cell coverage can actually benefit hospital staff by helping to ensure patients and visitors adhere to cell phone and other mobile device restrictions.

So, as a hospital building owner or manager, how can you strike a balance between providing better cellular coverage where staff, patients and visitors need it, while also maintaining the integrity of cellular- and device-free zones?

Improving cell signal zone by zone with passive DAS

By taking a zoned approach, you can do both within your hospital. Passive DAS (distributed antenna system) technology allows cell signals to be boosted in various locations throughout hospitals. Unlike active DAS, which relies on installing expensive and complex fiber-optic networks throughout the entire building, passive DAS works by bringing existing outdoor cellular signals into the building. These systems, also known as cell signal boosters, can be installed at less than half the cost of active DAS.

Passive DAS is a much better fit for hospitals because it allows cellular coverage to be boosted only where necessary or appropriate. That way hospitals can serve visitors in their waiting rooms, cafeteria and other common areas, by providing stronger signals, but avoid boosting signals in areas where cellular calls and other activity would interfere with processes and procedures.

Boosting your hospital’s cell signal is far simpler than you might think. It begins with a site survey where a professional uses a cell signal strength meter to determine where coverage is strongest and weakest throughout the building. Then, using a zoned approach, cell signal boosters can be added to the desired areas throughout the building to improve signal.

WilsonPro provides passive DAS cell signal boosting solutions to accommodate areas of all sizes, from the smallest waiting rooms to the largest cafeterias and back-office spaces in your hospital. If you’d like to learn how we can help you improve cell signal in your hospital with a zonal, controlled approach, contact us today.