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Wherever you go, someone has a smartphone. With recent statistics showing the total number of mobile subscriptions nearing 8 billion, the dominance of phones should come as no surprise.
Whether at work, at home, or at a hotel, most smartphone use takes place indoors. Unfortunately, in-building wireless coverage can vary from location to location. If you’re having problems with cell signal, it’s not necessarily your carrier’s fault.
It’s your environment. Or more specifically, the building in which you’re using your phone.
Everyone has experienced bad cell signal. We’ve even developed ways to work around it. Most people know which rooms or offices at work have decent cell coverage and which ones are the “dead zones.” Other times, we make important calls outside the door, near a window, or out in the parking lot where the cell service might be better.
But that’s not how it has to be. First, let’s talk about in-building wireless systems and why you might be experiencing poor cell coverage. Then, explore your options for resolving the issue.
Basics of In-Building Wireless or Distributed Antenna Systems
You might not be familiar with in-building wireless or distributed antenna systems (more commonly known as “DAS”), but they’re more common than you might think.
Basically, it is a telecommunications solution that provides a way to enhance and distribute wireless connections inside an office building or any large commercial space. A DAS is able to amplify the existing cell signal to provide connectivity to all cellular devices inside a structure.
Most in-building wireless systems are professionally designed, engineered, modified, and installed to the precise specifications of a building—using a network of antennas, cables, and amplifiers to bring enhanced cellular connectivity to isolated spots or bad coverage areas.
When it comes to safety, security, and productivity, in-building wireless matters to everyone. Tenants, customers, employees, and visitors alike expect constant access to their smartphones, tablets, and other cellular-connected devices throughout a building—at all times of the day.
Without an in-building wireless system in place, dropped calls and disruptions are inevitable—regardless of the carrier or device you’re using.
How In-Building Wireless Works
Much like how your building’s wireless internet, or Wi-Fi, works, an in-building wireless system takes an existing source signal and distributes it throughout the site. Also known as IBW, in-building wireless is a comprehensive cellular solution intended to bring in the cell service to every corner of your building without having to upgrade your existing service or your phones.
It all starts with your cell provider. Whether you’re on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or another smaller, regional, or third-party provider, the signal from the closest cell tower has to reach every part of your building. Unfortunately, many building materials naturally reject cell signals. These materials include e-glass, dense concrete, and troublesome walls with fluffy insulation.
If you’re on the edge of service, it can mean the difference between a successful conversation and a constant nightmare of dropped or missed calls. Even if you’re in an urban area with excellent cell coverage, rampant dead spots can frustrate people in your building, regardless of their network or phones.
With an in-building wireless system, a signal from a tower on the other side of town or just a few blocks away can be amplified and repeated to every device within your building without cumbersome Wi-Fi calling apps or tricky upgrades that may not solve the larger issue. It works by taking the signal directly from the source, through antennas that feed a central processing unit. This processing unit regulates and amplifies or relays the signal to areas in your building that need it, making dead zones a thing of the past.
An in-building wireless system gives you a coverage solution that fixes this problem once and for all with no need for troublesome or finicky hacks or workarounds. Each indoor antenna feeds a clear signal from outside throughout your building, seamlessly integrating the coverage you already pay for with the coverage you need indoors to communicate effectively.
DAS wireless and other coverage solutions have numerous, secondary benefits. For instance, if you own a building, strong indoor cellular service can increase the property value by a quarter to a third as tenants benefit from good indoor service while eschewing DIY fixes. Furthermore, as federal regulations and local statutes catch up with the progression of modern technology, you’ll be ahead of the game and avoid troublesome taxes and fees in the coming years.
Likewise, if customers visit your business on a regular basis or you serve the local community on any level, you’ll find that your clientele would rather spend more money and time with you than your competitors as they make use of your rock solid network.
If you have to move a meeting space or hold an impromptu brainstorm on the far side of the building, you and your workers won’t be left scrambling for a hot spot or another signal enhancement device — you’ll already be covered. Your employees will appreciate your in-building mobile coverage and feel empowered to get more done with various cellular connected devices such as tablets or smartphones.
Reasons for Weak In-Building Wireless Coverage
Many times the reason for poor cell signal is the distance between your building and the nearest cell tower. There’s also the variety of natural and man-made barriers surrounding a building that can block cell signal from nearby buildings. Even electrical towers, clusters of trees and nearby mountains can be contributing factors. In an urban environment, shadowed areas from skyscrapers can create an area of low signal.
Technology can also play a factor in your need for a signal booster.
Designed to reduce heat loss (or gain, depending on the climate) the energy efficient windows, foam-injected insulation, and metal construction found in many modern offices are also highly effective at blocking incoming cell signal. Common building materials, such as drywall, plaster, and concrete can wreak havoc on the in-building wireless coverage of a commercial space.
As cellular frequency goes even higher with 5G, cell signal decay will only get worse. To address these issues, an in-building cellular enhancement system may be the answer.
How to Know if Your Building Needs an In-Building Wireless Solution
There’s a relatively simple way to conclude whether or not a cell phone signal amplifier is necessary to improve your in-building wireless coverage and provide a stronger, more reliable cell signal for everyone throughout your building.
Ask yourself these questions:
- When I am inside, do I have problems with dropped calls or lost connections, poor call audio quality, or texts, emails, and voicemails that show up in my inbox hours after they were sent?
- When I go outside, do the problems identified above seem to go away? Is it easier to keep connections or complete calls? Does the audio quality of my calls improve? Can I download files to my phone faster outside than when I’m indoors?
If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, a WilsonPro solution could improve your situation. Our cellular amplifiers are used in office buildings, corporate high-rises, schools, hospitals, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and other commercial locations across North America.
To see how WilsonPro improved in-building wireless coverage of a 168,588 sq. ft., eight-story office building to the delight of its residents in Southern California, check out case study here.
Depending on the complexity of the implementation, a WilsonPro amplifier system can be up and running in your building in a matter of days or weeks—not years, like other in-building wireless solutions. We offer a cost-effective, multi-carrier cell signal enhancement solution for commercial use.
If you’re experiencing dropped calls, slow data and low bars with your cell coverage, consider a WilsonPro solution. WilsonPro cell amplifiers use passive DAS technology to boost cellular signal throughout large commercial spaces. Contact us to learn more.