Challenge: Beating office coverage and capacity


By John Spindler, VP marketing and product management at Zinwave

With the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets, wireless services such as 4G LTE have become a must-have in the office.  Trends such as bring your own device (BYOD) are putting pressure on enterprises to provide employees with ubiquitous wireless services anytime, anywhere within the office building.

Wireless services can often boost employee productivity, reduce costs, decrease insurance premiums, based on the fact that in-building wireless communication systems make buildings safer due to improved public safety communications, and make building management more economical as a result of automation.

While these benefits are achievable, there are a number of challenges that enterprises must overcome first in order to provide a strong wireless service for its employees, particularly when it comes to the construction of the building.

In-building challenges

Office buildings come in many different shapes and sizes.  What’s more, they have been built using numerous specialist construction materials, which can often cause issues when it comes to providing wireless services.

For example, 4G LTE signal does not penetrate building walls as well as 2G or 3G services.  As such, employees are often left with reduced data rates or even complete loss of signal.  In high-rise offices with multiple floors, there will likely be several adjacent cell sites providing signal to the building.  Employee’s phones will jump from one mobile cell site to another, which can significantly degrade mobile service, as well as drain the device’s battery life.  Enterprises must ensure there is a signal source inside the office building that is able to deliver adequate mobile coverage to its employees.

Another problem enterprises face is providing enough capacity within the office building.  For example, in high density areas within an office building, such as cafeterias or conference rooms, mobile capacity can become extremely limited, not least because the signal is concentrating on serving the peak crowd of users who are all accessing the internet or sending large files from their mobile device.

These temporary demands on the network can significantly impair mobile service performance and availability. Therefore, companies should consider wireless technology that is able to be easily defined, to deliver capacity to each area within the building.

Ubiquitous wireless service

Organisations can overcome the challenges associated with in-building wireless coverage and provide a strong, reliable mobile signal to its employees by optimising its network infrastructure with technology such as a wideband active distributed antenna system (DAS).  An install-once solution, a wideband DAS is a wireless signal distribution system consisting of small antennas that can fit unobtrusively inside ceilings, meaning that there is little disturbance to the office building itself.  Wideband DAS brings the signal closer to the users and allows specific services to be easily routed around the office to areas where they are needed the most.  In an office with multiple floors, employees can also specify their particular service mix.  Indeed, wideband DAS supports any service mix, protocol or modulation scheme between 150MHz to 2700MHz, including multi-input multi-output (MIMO) which may be needed in high user density areas.

One of the key benefits of wideband DAS technology is the system’s network infrastructure, which is standard structured cabling; broadband single-mode or multi-mode fibre.  This means that the system design and installation is a simple and straightforward process, with minimal disruption to business operations.

DAS systems are also flexible and scalable, enabling upgrades or additions to be quickly implemented without needing any hardware replacements or cabling refits. This offers companies a futureproof solution and rapid return on investment (ROI), not least because there are no infrastructure upgrades or cabling overhauls needed.

Office of the future

With the likes of 5G on the horizon and the fact that many companies are already struggling to overcome the coverage and capacity challenges associated with in-building wireless, organisations should optimise their existing network infrastructure now to ensure their employees stay connected.  Embracing technology such as a wideband DAS will not only help organisations stay on top of trends such as BYOD, but they will be able to embrace wireless services and technologies of the future.

Zinwave is a global provider of wideband active distributed antenna system (DAS) technology for in-building wireless coverage.


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