"Can You Hear Me Now?"--Dead Spots Are Still A Problem Indoors
There’s no doubt about it: the future of communicating will rely on wireless technology. Smartphones have become a necessity and their users expect the ability to stream video, e-mail, text and download everywhere they go. In fact, according to a recent Ball State Institute for Mobile Media Research study, 99.8% of all college students use some kind of mobile device or cell phone on campus, making colleges one of the most wireless communities in the United States. And while commercial carriers boast the ‘most coverage’ and the ‘largest networks’—their claims often aren’t providing reliable coverage inside buildings. For large buildings, venues and campuses, distributed antenna systems are the widely used platform in improving wireless coverage.
What is a distributed antenna system (DAS)?
DASs are designed to improve wireless coverage by boosting RF signals using a network of fiber-optic cable, active equipment and antennas. A DAS uses several antennas mounted in strategic locations to provide wireless coverage over the entire area or building. The antennas themselves are just the radiation point that allows the signal to propagate either within the building, or outside of the building, depending on the system. The key to the DAS is the bi-directional amplifier, which if the system is designed properly, is of sufficient gain to overcome the signal losses that are occurring between the outside radio or cellular network and the inherent attenuation that buildings induce into the path of radio signals in general. A DAS can be used to provide wireless coverage (whether cellular, Wi-Fi, Radio Frequency, etc.) to hotels, subways, airports, hospitals, businesses, roadway tunnels, etc.
How To Boost Indoor Coverage
Unfortunately, implementing a DAS network is not as easy as ordering equipment, turning it on and the problem being solved. But coordinating with an experienced team can give you the assistance to get a plan in place. First, a wireless technician or RF engineer would survey the site to note areas of weak/no coverage and determine the best location for each antenna. Not only is coverage verified during these walks, but also the surroundings are observed. The engineer takes note of building construction, for key information such as wall construction, whether it’s drywall, concrete or metal, since they all have different attenuation properties (which is what’s blocking the signal). The roof top is typically visited to assure sufficient outside signal levels are available to feed the DAS amplifier. This usually provides enough information to compile a design plan to enhance coverage in the areas that were flagged.
Now you're ready to provide 100% wireless access and get rid of the dead spots inconveniencing your building. This has been the first report from your technology coverage specialist, Ann Tenna. Remember, “Without me, communication just wouldn’t be the same.” That's all for now! -Ann
For solutions to your wireless coverage issues, contact Chicago Communications.
More about Ann Tenna, another member of the FREQ Squad!
Ann’s part in amplifying coverage makes her a Very-Important-Part (VIP) of the radio working well, and she won’t let you forget it. When she isn’t busy demanding the spotlight on her (she attracts electricity she says) she’s helping increase signal coverage. Graduated MVP of her class at FREQs Academy.
This article was written with assistance from one of ChiComm's own engineers, Dennis Ondriska. For any questions or concerns regarding this article, please contact us.