Mobile Work Force in a Fast-Paced Marketplace
Smart devices have changed the way we operate at home and in business. You can do research, check email, respond quickly to text messages, complete a video call, take pictures, make a purchase, do your banking, and even complete your grocery shopping without setting foot in the store. All of this and much more, and all from a 4-inch screen, or even smaller. With all of this information at our fingertips, we have become impatient consumers, expecting that at any time and anywhere, our message will be received and our problems immediately addressed. For all types of professionals, a lack of consistent and reliable mobile connectivity is a detriment to responding to, and adequately meeting your customers’ needs.
What can you do if your facility has a weak or spotty cellular reception?
There are two key options for boosting a cell phone signal, and the solution is often a combination of the two options. The size of your facility, the materials utilized in the construction of your building, business goals, and budget are all deciding factors when determining which option(s) to choose.
Wireless (WiFi) Solution
Often, especially in smaller buildings, a well-thought-out WiFi solution is all that is needed to boost a cell phone connection. While data has worked well for some time over a wireless network, a voice call was not always so successful. Thanks to updated Wi-Fi standards, voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) has made strides and works well over a network that has been configured correctly for this traffic.
4 Considerations when implementing a WiFi solution:
- WiFi solutions provide the opportunity to track information about your visitors that many times will assist in business and marketing decisions.
- End users, unless their devices are set up to auto-connect to WiFi locations, will have to complete a process to access the network.
- If cell reception is lacking, WiFi may be utilized to increase data transmission speed if you have a fast Internet connection.
- With guests on your network, malware and viruses from their devices are a concern. Extra precautions are necessary to protect your system.
Distributed Antenna System (DAS)
Large facilities such as airports, hospitals, stadiums, manufacturing plants, hotels, convention centers, and educational institutions often include areas with no, or inadequate, cell reception. A DAS is an excellent solution to provide a direct cell signal for end-users. It is used only to boost a cell phone signal, no additional steps, such as logging onto the network, are required.
A DAS is an amplifier system used to boost cell signals. An installed outdoor antenna is used to pick up cell signals, and then an indoor antenna is used to strengthen the signal within the infrastructure. These systems are used to fill in coverage gaps and can result in a 32% stronger cell signal in the coverage area.
A few distributed access systems provide smart technology built directly into the equipment to allow the system to monitor and self-correct.
- Automatic Gain Control (AGC) – Will supervise and adjust the gain of the amplifier to prevent interference to the network and will assist in providing maximum coverage.
- Oscillation Detect and Shutdown – If an oscillating frequency is detected, the amplifier will complete an automatic shutdown to prevent interference.
- Intelligent Shutdown Management – If the oscillating frequency or band is shut down, the booster will continue to self-monitor, once the frequency is no longer too active, the amplifier will repower to enable the correction.
It is important that these systems are automatic, due to frequent changes in cellular bands. Mother Nature can cause cellular signal strengths to change based on the time of the year. Trees in bloom, rain, fog, and snow can all create interference. Carriers might add a new tower or could conduct tests that cause differences in the strength of the signal they are sending
Before meeting with an engineer, you will want to gather the following:
- A floor plan. This can be a complete blueprint of the facility, or as simple as a fire escape plan. This floor plan will be uploaded to project management software for planning purposes.
- The exterior building measurements.
- A list of internal wall materials. A site assessment will assist in determining cellular signal strengths, possible locations for cellular boosting equipment, cable, and amplifiers. Due to regulations set by the FCC, and before starting the installation, it is essential to contact the cellular companies to receive approval for your area.
With the ever-increasing reliance on mobile communications, Distributed Access Systems will play a significant role in the way large organizations provide customer service, sales, and complete operations.