Cellular connectivity is becoming a critical factor in securing long-term tenants and higher price per square foot in commercial real estate office buildings according to a 2016 global study commissioned by CommScope, a leading provider of worldwide network services.
Despite the fact that currently there are more than 2.5 billion smartphone users globally and an estimated 80% of mobile traffic originates or terminates within a building, only 2% of commercial buildings have dedicated technology to ensure robust and reliable mobile coverage and capacity indoors.
“We are addicted to our mobile phones. It is the one piece of technology we always carry with us. So seamless indoor or in-building wireless coverage is as important as the availability of water or electricity in that building. Architects and building owners need to work together and design cellular connectivity into the fabric of a building like they do for other utilities.”, said Kandasamy, Co-founder Komu Systems, who was formerly the global leader for CommScope’s Enterprise Building Solutions group, in an interview with In Building Tech.
The demand for cellular connectivity has been fueled not only by the adoption of mobile phones but also the dramatic shift in modern workplaces with open office plans that enable staff to bring their own devices to work and the ever increasing use of co-working spaces, experts say.
Office tenants today expect a seamless transition from a smartphone to computer without risking dropped calls and service interruptions and are willing to pay more for it.
Robust indoor wireless coverage could increase a property’s value by 28% on average. Enterprise tenants reported that reliable cellular connectivity increased workforce productivity, supporting the recruitment of more talented individuals and attracting more visitors, according to the survey.
Two-thirds of respondents rated indoor wireless connectivity as ‘essential’ for employees, according to the survey.
Roadblocks for cellular connectivity
Building owners identified three significant roadblocks that prevented them from providing dedicated wireless networks indoors. More than 35% indicated that costs of the system were a primary factor while the complexity of the technology (19%) and a lack of skilled workers to manage cellular networks (11% ) were secondary factors inhibiting their adoption (11%).
“Our ability to communicate with the world no matter where we are is a need as important as any basic utility. This should not be an economic discussion. Would you refuse to invest in the supply of electricity to your home because it was too expensive or complex to do?”, said Kandasamy
As more companies depend on seamless internet and cellular connectivity to conduct business, offices building owners need to provide the digital connectivity infrastructure to support them.
Below is a list of things that every building owner should consider to ensure that cellular networks in their properties are up to speed.
Top 5 tips for improving cellular connectivity
1. Conduct a site survey that will enable identification of the weakest and strongest signal areas throughout your property. For most accurate results building owners should use a signal meter for this process instead of a cellphone in test mode. Signal meters detect and display signal frequency, bandwidth, and strength. Once you’ve determined your facility’s weaknesses and strengths, you can adequately address them.
2. Owners may want to consider installing cell phone signal boosters. While cell phone signal boosters are dependent on the quality of the external signal, they take weaker signals like 3G and 4G and amplify them as much as 32 times and then rebroadcast that signal within the property to ensure tenants get the best signal, eliminating dead zones.
3. Research and consider installing high-quality cell signal boosters that are easy to install, monitor and use. Select a provider that is familiar or is willing to understand the needs of your property to select the best solutions to address them and can ensure that the technologies you’re implementing are FCC compliant.
4. Determine which type of boosters and antennas are best for your property. There is a wide range of solutions available based on the amount of square footage and the type of antenna required to reach and boost signals depending on the property.
5. Research cell providers. Your buildings must provide the best access to all of the various cell providers tenants use. Make sure you talk to your booster technology provider to ensure their products cover the frequencies used by all of the major carriers and perform well with all of them.