October 12, 2010

Four Considerations for Better Cell Phone Coverage

Cell Phone TowerDistributed Antenna Systems (DAS): A Growing Trend

These days, you find cell phones on the hips or in the pockets of almost everyone. And, a reoccurring topic of conversation you can usually overhear is how good someone’s cell phone coverage actually is. A Distributed Antenna System (otherwise known as DAS) is a means of increasing the cellular signal received in your area. It’s typically used indoors, but is sometimes used in communities instead of large repeater towers. It is a system of small antennas, cabling and electronics that will receive the cellular signal from a carrier and repeat and distribute that signal throughout a building or campus.


  1. Missed/Dropped Calls = Poor Customer Service
    In today’s business world our customers have a lot of options and demand quick, if not immediate, responses. Missing or losing a call could be the difference in winning or losing a contract. It could make the difference in achieving total customer satisfaction or customer frustration. And with the integration between cellular phones and today’s Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) business telephone systems, the transition from cellular to desk phone and back to cellular is a great way to break the chains that are holding you to your desk.
  2. Smart Phones, Smarter Buildings
    Why is your “in building cellular coverage” worse today than it was in the past? There are several factors, including the change from a simple cellular phone to smart phones. Smart phones can do so much more and often in a smaller package. This capability comes at a price. The space that was once used for an antenna and amplifier is now replaced with very elaborate data processors. The signaling schemes used to handle the bandwidth required to operate smart phones often does not propagate into buildings well as earlier signaling schemes. And lastly, Low E glass used in today’s building construction naturally reflects cellular signals.
  3. Integrations with Cellular Carriers
    When looking into a preferred DAS, you want to select a system that is approved by the local cellular carriers. A system could be designed to work with only one carrier or with all carriers. Either way, the company you chose to install your DAS needs to work with the local carriers to get approval for you to operate the system. It is illegal to operate a system without the permission of the carrier. Many systems are FCC approved, but be careful as this does not mean that they will be approved by the carriers.
  4. Additional Considerations, Such as Emergency Responders
    Emergency responders, fire and police departments are using radios that operate at similar frequencies to cellular technology. Many DAS systems are not only able to provide the private sector with better coverage, but also can handle the emergency responder frequencies with the same system. The 2009 edition of the International Fire Code has language in it stating the requirements for the installation of an Emergency Responder Radio Coverage. The DAS allows a means to meet these requirements.  These codes are not yet adopted by all communities, but I anticipate that adoption is in the near future.

With the advancement of technology we will see improved DAS, which will ultimately continue to improve our cell phone coverage. This is good news for everyone, and will hopefully do away with the ever-so-popular phrase, “Can you hear me now.”