September 6, 2015

Imagine for a moment that you’re trying to have a one-on-one conversation in a large, empty room. At first, you are able to speak at a comfortable level and hear each other perfectly without much effort at all. But as the room slowly begins to fill, you have to adjust your volume and work a little harder to hear. As the few steadily grow into a crowd, you’re now finding it not only difficult to hear the other person but nearly impossible to have a conversation at all.

This is what it’s like for your phone when trying to communicate effectively with a macro-cellular tower network in an interference-laden environment. The more signals (people) that your phone has to compete with, the less suited the macro-cellular tower (room) is to facilitate quality connections (conversations).

Running with this analogy, let’s explore some of your, or your cellphone’s, options:

1. Remain where you are, but suffer the noise and occasionally lose each other in the crowd.

When your phone remains connected to a macro-cellular tower on a noisy channel, you’ll experience garbled or “you’re cutting out” audio and slow data throughput that affects streaming, texts and app usage.

2. Find a different room.

Think of this solution as your cellphone leaving one cellular tower, as a result of interference, in search of another source that promises a better connection. While the switch may benefit the call, the connection may drop during the time it takes to jump ship and for the new connection to be established. Not to mention the resulting battery drain from constantly searching for better servers for the cellular connection.

3. Give up. Reschedule the meeting at a different time.

This is when you receive a “text/call failed” message. The macro-cellular tower is simply too overwhelmed to establish additional mobile device connections at the time.

Now consider an additional scenario, say you plan to meet your friend for the same conversation as above but in an ideal space; small room, no distractions. But when you arrive, there are room dividers separating you and your friend. What would have been an otherwise perfect environment for your conversation, is now blocked by obstacles.

In this situation, the room dividers represent high-rise buildings that stand between yours and the macro-cellular tower, intercepting RF signals that would otherwise easily reach your building or creating RF multi-path issues (echoes) and additional interference.

Equally, they might represent your building’s glass-and-steel architecture that can act as an RF shield, preventing signals from penetrating your building’s exterior and reaching the mobile devices inside.

As simplistic as the analogy is, it illustrates the many factors that coalesce into a complex web of wireless challenges. The good news? The web is only attached to two walls.

Untangling the Web of Wireless Challenges

Each of these wireless challenges commonly experienced by high-rise tenants is merely a symptom of one of two underlying issues: signal interference (capacity) or poor signal strength (coverage).

  • 1, 2 and 3 listed above are examples of signal interference—noise created by a number of cellphones competing for the macro tower’s signal.
  • Signal strength is addressed in the additional scenario and highlights the impact that non-wireless factors can have on wireless connections within high-rise buildings.

Addressing these issues at the source, enables tenants to experience full coverage and seamless capacity throughout any property or high-rise space.

DAS Solutions for Metropolitan High-Rise Building

Having the capability to solve both capacity and coverage issues within a single, customizable solution, distributed antenna systems (DAS) have emerged as a frontrunner in in-building wireless solutions over the past decade and are predicted to gain even more traction as greater demands are placed on cellular towers.

With wireless consumers’ appetite for bandwidth-intensive data still on the first leg of the journey to the three-Exabyte-per-month 2018 destination, multi-tenant highrises in densely populated, metropolitan cities are touted by many as the next major frontier for distributed antenna systems.

In the past two years alone, DAS deployments have skyrocketed in the class-A, high-rise office space: One World Trade Center and 55 Water Street in New York; Franklin Center, 77 Wacker and 70 West Madison in Chicago; and Peachtree Plaza and Promenade in Atlanta, are just a few properties that stand to benefit from the forward-thinking position of their managing companies.

The deployment strategy for One World Trade Center, for example, was driven by a paradigm shift in which corporate facility managers seeking to lease space now assess a building’s wireless cellular coverage as a fundamental part of their decision-making process. With that in mind, they hold that building a DAS plays an important role in increasing property values and attracting high-valued occupants.

On the Horizon

This forward-thinking desire for comprehensive wireless connectivity demonstrates the latest trend that is blooming in the multi-tenant, class-A, high-rise office space and is expected to accelerate aggressively over the next few years.

With converged networks and smart IT infrastructures on the horizon, progressive property owners/managers see DAS as a supplemental first step toward a future, unified wireless infrastructure and a strong fiber in a web woven for wireless success.

For more information on the latest in-building cellular technology options for your property, contact our team of experts at 1-888-591-9418 or fill out the contact form here.