September 27, 2019
September 23, 2019
Your Understanding Of Mobile Signal Boosting Technology Is Probably Wrong
Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a shiny new office building in the centre of a city and have full mobile signal, including fast download speeds? Unfortunately, this isn’t likely to happen.
Our ability to work anywhere, driven over the years by rapidly improving mobile signal and WiFi, has become a necessity. The problem is that our buildings seem to fight back. The excellent sustainability credentials of new buildings, designed to keep heat out, for example, also do a thorough job of keeping mobile signal out while older buildings’ thick walls and small rooms weren’t designed to let any kind of signal through. Savills' What Workers Want: UK 2019 survey found that only 54% of office workers are happy with their mobile signal at work, while 74% indicated that mobile signal was an important factor in the ideal workplace.
The obvious answer is for landlords to install technology to bring mobile signal inside. Technology has come a long way in the last decade, but some members of the property community still hold outdated beliefs about its effectiveness and cost. StrattoOpencell CEO Richard Bourne dispelled some of these myths.
Myth One: WiFi Is All I Need To Provide
“We see mobile and WiFi as complementary,” Bourne said. “Eighty to 90% of mobile use is indoors, but mobile networks have been built for outside. There’s a real need to increase capacity indoors and we find that two networks — a separate WiFi and mobile connection — best serve the occupiers of the building. It’s about delivering the best user experience possible, which drives happiness, productivity and people’s ability to innovate.”
Although WiFi has improved, mobile signal is still the only truly reliable option for voice services. WiFi is impacted by the number of people using it, for example, and coverage throughout a building can be patchy. If you are trying to make an internet call using WiFi, chances are you need to stay still.
In contrast, once mobile signal is introduced it is consistent. When installed in a building it is a resilient layer of connectivity, and the provider ensures full coverage. Mobile networks are also more secure than WiFi, as security is built into the standards of the technology that provides 3G or 4G.
“If what you’re doing is mission critical, you must have carrier grade service and you only get that with 3G or 4G coverage,” Bourne said. “We extend that coverage to the in-building environment.”
Myth Two: Distributed Antenna Systems Are All That’s Available And They’re Impossible
Distributed antenna systems have been around for years. However, the technology that distributes a network around a building has historically been very expensive to deploy and needs the cooperation of all mobile operators. If they don’t cooperate, the landlord could end up receiving coverage from only one or two operators.
“As a result, we often find ourselves talking to someone in the property world who has had a bad experience with DAS five years ago,” Bourne said. “Several things have changed since. Regarding technology, there has been huge innovation. Now it is digital, fibre-based and future-proofed. At the same time, neutral hosts such as StrattoOpencell have flipped business models on their heads. We work with the landlord or developer to design what’s needed for the building, then act as a trusted partner of the four mobile operators to connect the building.”
The result is a managed service, where payment is a monthly fee rather than a large upfront cost. The service includes all maintenance and upgrades, so the landlord doesn’t have to negotiate with the mobile operator and the mobile operator doesn’t have to handle thousands of individual requests. It is available no matter the size of the building, so it has become an affordable solution.
Myth Three: I Shouldn’t Buy It Now Because 5G Is Coming
5G will bring far greater speed and lower latency, allowing applications to have real-time conversations. In two years’ time, we could all be experiencing very different mobile performance. However, it is evolving technology and is currently only being deployed in outside environments.
“Today, there is no suitable multi-operator 5G product for the in-building environment, but we work with operators so when products become available, we are at the forefront of deployment,” Bourne said. “We deploy networks with 5G upgrades in mind. For example, 5G will use fibre so we install fibre.”
The main reason for landlords not to wait is that tenants want improved mobile signal now. Already, installing 4G into the in-building environment provides a huge boost to download speeds and the whole user experience is improved. Mobile operators are offering more data in packages than ever which users want to make the most of, such as Vodafone which has launched unlimited data packages.
There will always be new technology around the corner, but today’s tenant requirements mean that landlords shouldn’t wait to tackle mobile coverage. No matter the type or size of the building, the technology and solutions are there.
This feature was produced by Bisnow Branded Content in collaboration with StrattoOpencell. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.