Picture this: You find a space for your business in a great location. It has everything you need for what you do. Outside, your business cell reception is fantastic but the moment employees and customers walk inside, their bars drop to zero. Does this sound familiar? Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence in many commercial spaces.
Your business is not alone. Despite the major carriers spending billions annually to improve their networks, cellular service continues to be a challenge. This isn’t only an issue with remote office locations. Many larger commercial spaces struggle with this issue as well thanks to the materials used in their buildings’ construction.
If you are facing cell signal problems in your commercial building, then you may wonder if your network carrier will pay to solve the problem. Here’s what you should know.
Will My Cellular Carrier Pay to Solve My Cell Signal Problem?
Unfortunately, as long as the carrier’s signal strength is acceptable outside the building, the provider isn’t going to want to spend the time and resources needed to fix one customer’s issue. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. It just isn’t financially feasible to change up the entire network because the signal is bad inside a building — especially since the building itself is probably the source of the problem.
Many commercial spaces are constructed with materials that interfere with cellular signals. But that doesn’t mean you’re without options. If you talk to your provider, they might recommend installing a “small cell” inside the building to remedy the problem.
What Is a Cell?
If you were to look at the wireless network for your carrier on a map, coverage areas surrounding the tower would resemble biological cells. The tower in the middle is like the nucleus, and the coverage area forms the remainder of the cell.
The use of cells is helpful for maximizing coverage areas. Just like with biology, where the group of cells forms the whole organism, the cluster of cell towers forms the network. This is why your carrier might suggest a small cell as a solution to your coverage issues — because a “small cell” is a device used to create a smaller cell within your business structure.
Small Cells: What They Can and Can’t Do
Small cells operate by way of a portable device — called a base station — that works like a miniature cell tower. Carriers often offer these low-power devices to businesses experiencing service issues. For a small- to medium-sized business, this device will probably be something called a femtocell.
A femtocell is a base station similar in size to a modem WiFi router. It operates by connecting to your internet service and routing your calls through your WiFi to your cellular network. To any phone looking for service within seven to 10 meters of the device, the femtocell just appears to be the strongest cell tower available for connection.
There are some drawbacks to using a femtocell. The most notable being that they’re carrier-specific. That means they’re only going to be useful for those on the same carrier as the device. In addition to that, there are only a limited number of phones that can be connected to the base station at any given time. For business devices, this is usually between eight and 16 simultaneous users.
It’s also worth noting that femtocells use internet bandwidth. That means the network as a whole can be slowed down thanks to increased traffic while simultaneously raising your business’s data usage. Not to mention, each phone must be individually authorized to connect to the unit, so that means it doesn’t automatically improve cell service for someone just because they entered the building. For a business that wants to improve reception for multiple employees on different networks while offering better reception for customers, the femtocell is a less-than-optimal solution.
Distributed Antenna Systems
Thankfully, businesses are not limited only to the femtocell option. For many businesses, the solution lies in the use of a distributed antenna system. DAS, as it is called, offers businesses a way to provide service increases to employees and customers, regardless of provider and without using the internet.
Instead of connecting to your internet, the DAS uses a roof-mounted antenna that connects to the strongest local cell tower. It then relays and boosts that signal through other antennas throughout your business to provide better signal. That way, any phone in the covered area just connects automatically — as it would with any other tower.
Passive vs Active DAS
When it comes to utilizing a DAS, your business has two main options — passive or active. An active DAS is usually a more expensive option than passive due greater installation and infrastructure needs. This is because the active system is meant to cover a large area.
Active DAS is designed for buildings like football stadiums and large airports where they need to create a signal and distribute it over a wide area. A passive system amplifies existing signal within a building, so it doesn’t require the investment and maintenance that an active system does.
The Advantage of Passive DAS for Businesses
One of the reasons a passive DAS option makes sense as a business solution is because these systems are specifically designed for commercial use. They are meant to capitalize on existing cell tower signal. As a business- and enterprise-focused solution, they are capable of handling a heavy user load from multiple connected devices. Also, because DAS is a system of antennas, it offers businesses the option of providing a strong signal to anyone who walks through the door, regardless of carrier.
Another advantage is that using a DAS will not require any special maintenance or administration efforts. Additionally, since it isn’t dependent on your internet, you don’t need to be concerned with network slowdowns or increased prices for data overages.
A Custom-Designed WilsonPro Passive DAS Solution for Your Business
The best solution for any business wanting to improve cellular reception is a custom-designed passive DAS, which you can get from WilsonPro. With a custom-designed cell booster system, you get the perfect amount of coverage to fit your business’s needs. The number of antennas is tailored to maximize coverage within your structure to eliminate dead zones.