Businesses must have accessible, effective, and dependable cellular coverage within their buildings. Facility managers, building owners, and designers should consider different cellular options to provide the finest enterprise connection possibilities.
Instead of relying solely on Wi-Fi, the majority of enterprise networks will require the high degree of connectivity that in-building cellular offers.
Today, companies continue to increase their cellular data usage as new mobile communication use cases appear to emerge on a regular basis, promising to boost institutional efficiency, productivity and communication more than ever. Let’s have a look at the various deployment strategies for in-building cellular solutions.
In-Building Cellular: An Introduction
Cellular technology has advanced from the 1G networks of the 1980s to the ultrafast 5G networks of today. Although cellular coverage is used by businesses, its effectiveness has constantly been constrained by its coverage.
Walls in any type of building serve as a signal barrier. In recent decades, this issue has gotten worse. Conventional buildings are usually designed with temperature control in mind, but while low-emissivity windows may assist in cutting costs for heating and cooling, it also weakens phone signals. Additionally, 5G generates higher frequencies that physical obstacles can more easily inhibit.
The solution is to use distributed antenna systems (DAS), often known as in-building cellular, to increase the carrier signal’s range. An in-building cellular network, as opposed to a large outdoor macro cell site, is designed to span indoor spaces divided into numerous smaller sub-spaces, such as stories and rooms. Even at high strength, a single node would have difficulty transmitting an RF signal through many floors and walls. With this topology, service is more easily supplied by several nodes spread out among the various spaces.
Healthcare facilities, office buildings, public spaces, hotels, and convention centers can all benefit from in-building cellular’s enhanced indoor wireless coverage. The installation of a new in-building wireless system is a sizable undertaking that may be difficult to handle. Let’s examine the procedures for developing and putting in place an in-building wireless network for both new and old buildings.
Deploying In-Building Cellular
1. Gathering Requirements
Gathering your building’s requirements is the first stage in establishing in-building cellular networks. Future needs must be taken into account while installing new wireless networks because the telecom industry is constantly evolving. You should think about a few things, such as whether you need coverage all through the building or just in specific areas, the capacity needs for dense areas, the needed technologies, and frequency bands.
Additionally, it’s crucial to be aware of any aesthetic issues with your building’s current fiber and cabling architecture. You should consider if you need to have all mobile carriers on the system, simply one, or neither. Do you believe there will ever be more mobile operators introduced or not? Do wireless devices like Wi-Fi entry points or surveillance cameras need to be supported by the in-building wireless system within the same network?
It is advised to consider all of these current and upcoming needs. This lessens the awkward scenario in which the significant investment you have made can no longer meet the organization’s goals and requirements.
A well-designed cell should operate nearly like a dynamic, individual ecosystem. It should be carefully planned to provide connectivity throughout all necessary areas with little overlap. Working with qualified, specialized deployment partners is one of the most important design factors.
An in-building cellular solution requires specialized skills to develop, deploy, and manage. Therefore clients will always seek partners that are qualified professionals and can provide the best guidance, help, and deployment alternatives for their needs.
Your design team should use sophisticated indoor propagation tools to generate a simulated 3D model of the office area. This makes it simple to plan out the best locations for entry points and antennas, giving users the best possible capacity and quality of services.
It’s crucial to consider outside factors when designing. The solution’s ability to retain spatial airwave control and prevent external network interference is critical. Every access point or antenna should be powered up to block out any rogue macro network signals, and cellular coverage should be designed to offer a stronger signal than outside interference.
3. Survey of the Site and System Design
A site assessment should be carried out on existing structures In order to determine the best installation positions for radio units and antennae and to assess the quality of the various mobile operators’ signals. For this, it will be necessary to have access to structure floor plans and to employ technologies for site surveying that can check for congestion and signal quality.
A professional designer will utilize the floor plan and the results of the site survey to create a covering or heat map after the site survey is finished. The final design will also consider aspects like the building’s structural design, building regulations, aesthetics, and security concerns. The designer will next produce a bill of materials, which is an extensive list of every component needed for the advised in-building wireless system, based on the completed design.
The next recommendation is for buildings that are still being built to have a provisional RF design. In order to increase a building’s energy savings, LEED glass is frequently utilized, but the reflective coating could also block off cellular signals.
It is not unusual for the construction team to be able to use their cell phones without any issues while the building is still being built, but after the framing, doors, and windows are put in, the wireless signal disappears.
The building construction and planning team should create a tentative RF design that will be included in the first building blueprints in order to prevent this problem. Depending on the building’s structure, components, and floor layout, a preliminary RF design can offer the best estimate of RF penetration.
4. Decisions Regarding Deployment
Plans and solution concerns covered in the design phase are included in the deployment phase. Depending on the size, form, and intended usage of the space, different deployment concerns will apply to each unique cellular system.
Power is the first thing to think about. DAS offers a variety of power levels that are appropriate for various settings. Low-power systems, for instance, work great in tiny offices, but bigger commercial areas, like tall structures, need a higher power level to permeate the building structure.
Additionally, installing a cellular solution in an existing structure necessitates laying a new cable from the head end to the access points spread throughout the building. Coaxial cable may be used in the horizontal direction and fiber-optic cable in the vertical direction in some setups. However, there are several cutting-edge DAS and small cell systems that need little deployment time and money and use standard IT wiring that may already be placed throughout the area.
A cellular solution has to link to the wireless operator network once the physical equipment is set up. Based on the solution being installed, this procedure will change. For instance, a DAS deployment lacks an independent radio source, so in order to function, it must be linked to the macro network. Hence, if necessary, different operator networks can run concurrently on a DAS deployment.
In comparison, a small cell deployment does include a radio source, but it also requires a backhaul solution to interface it with the operator’s network. These situations might be challenging since operators frequently enforce their criteria before enabling integration.
Installing in-building cellular solutions into existing structures is possible with a variety of financing choices. While some businesses might find an outright acquisition or capital investment to be the most appropriate course of action, equipment leasing offers a far more accessible solution for many companies. When an organization leases, a financial services business owns and funds the technology, and the enterprise makes recurring monthly payments to the financial firm.
When an in-building wireless system is leased, it is no longer viewed as a capital expenditure (CAPEX) but rather as an operational expenditure (OPEX). CAPEX appears on the balance sheet and is repaid during the asset’s lifetime. OPEX is recorded as an ongoing item in the profit and loss account.
Having said that, no two companies are alike. Every organization should think about its financial status and choose a payment mechanism that best fits its capital and operational needs.
With mobile customers living in an always-on environment, constant cellular connection is a requirement. In-building cellular networks are becoming a crucial component of many firms, whether it’s to boost output or increase client and employee contentment.
There are a lot of factors to take into account when setting up new infrastructure. However, these systems are always improving and are now more accessible, adaptable, and simple to set up than ever before.