Today some of the world’s greenest buildings also have the worst cellular reception making them less desirable properties for tenants and long-term leasing opportunities.
While many newly built commercial office and multi-unit residential buildings undergo great pains to use construction materials and methods that earned LEED-certification, the materials used in their construction often block cellular signals which result in poor mobile connectivity.
As cellular connectivity increasingly becomes an essential utility that tenants in commercial and residential buildings expect, many building owners and operators are using cellular signal boosters to solve problems of weak signal strength and dead spots.
It’s as important as any other utility,” emphasized Jeff Gudewicz, chief product officer at Wilson Electronics, in an interview with In-Building Tech. “Weak signals used to be attributed to the carrier, but they degrade for a variety of reason including construction materials. It’s impossible for mobile carriers to be able to predict every property instance or scenario and more building owners are realizing that they need to provide cellular connectivity.”
Deployable in nearly 95% of commercial and residential buildings, cell signal boosters essentially magnify the signal strength from the macro network and are often less costly than deploying fully-integrated DAS connectivity systems.
“While DAS systems are suitable for applications like airports and convention centers and stadiums, they can be costly. It’s important for building owners to consider what solution works best for their problem. Cell signal boosters like WilsonPro work well at connecting dead spots and boosting or enhancing weak cellular coverage,” said Gudewicz.
“They can improve signal strength from one to three or four bars, which is a substantial improvement” Gudewicz added.
While cellular signal boosters are most effective in buildings with areas up to 200,000 square feet, they can be scaled to multi-building environments and campuses covering several million square feet.
One of the advantages of cell signal boosters is their ease of deployment. Cellular signal boosters are pre-certified and authorized under FCC part 20 and the installation process is minimally invasive. The time from an onsite visit to full installation can be within two to four weeks and without any disruption of existing services to tenants.
Now that we have an understanding of what cellular signal boosters do let’s take a look at a real-world case study.
Case study: cellular signal boosters in multi-unit residential buildings
In 2017, the Jersey City Urby Building (JCUB), a 72-floor luxury residential tower in Jersey City, completed its construction offering tenants beautiful views, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a plethora of high-tech amenities. Due to its proximity to New York City, where excessive rents are prevalent, the complex was designed to attract young millennials who prefer telecommuting.
While the building offered great convenience and top of the line amenities, the materials used in its eco-friendly construction blocked cellular signals from adequately reaching the building. The problem became a massive issue as tenants who worked from home relied on regular cellular connectivity to perform their job functions wanted to break their leases if the issue wasn’t resolved, and management needed to find a long-term solution, fast.
The building’s management deployed a full-service cellular signal booster system designed by Illuminati Labs comprised of 18 WilsonPro 4000 carrier-agnostic cell signal boosters and 300 interior antennas to meet needs of their tenants who subscribe to a variety of mobile service providers. The boosters use a passive distributed antenna system (passive DAS), which amplifies the existing external cellular signal, the process was minimally invasive, allowing residents to go about their lives without intrusions.
While the case study above focused on multi-unit residential buildings, cellular signal boosters are also being deployed in hospital settings where professionals rely on their handsets for text and pages.
“We are seeing a large increase in the number of hospitals, especially in critical care areas and nurse stations which rely heavily on handsets and radiology labs which have dead spots due to the material used to insulate treatment rooms, to improve cellular connectivity,” said Gudewicz