It’s a known fact that digital connectivity significantly increases the productivity of any business and its growth potential. With a growing reliance on mobile technology and connectivity in general, having poor indoor mobile phone coverage can be a limiting factor of productivity for any enterprise business. Distribution centres and warehouses, which are typically constructed with a steel frame, metal roof, minimal windows and external obstacles can have a significant impact on mobile phone signals penetrating inside the building.
This all too common issue was experienced when NET Coverage Solutions were asked to help when a popular e-commerce giant renovated its two-story warehouse and distribution facility spread across an area of about 40,000 sq ft. The impenetrable building materials were blocking the mobile phone signals from reaching the warehouse space and ground-floor offices. The enterprise customer needed to secure indoor 3G/4G coverage prior to becoming fully operational to support general communication of management team and staff.
A major brand-name, e-commerce giant who was renovating their more-than 40,000 square foot distribution center located in the UK, needed to address their poor mobile phone coverage to modernize the facility. Like many other distribution centers, the building was constructed primarily with metal, steel I-beams, and impenetrable cladding on the outside. Combined with a metal roof, a minimal number of windows located in the few existing offices, and a property largely obstructed by trees, bringing a mobile phone signal indoors had been next to impossible.
The company initially contacted its mobile network operator for an in-building mobile phone coverage solution. The operator contacted their partner integrator NET Coverage Solutions to evaluate the situation. After careful consideration, NET Coverage Solutions decided to select Cel-Fi QUATRA, an active DAS hybrid solution that can be automatically configured and managed using the Cel-Fi WAVE cloud-based management platform.
NET Coverage Solutions initially went to the facility to perform a site survey, and determine how much equipment was needed and assess the radio wave characteristics within the building environment. There were obstacles discovered both inside and outside of the building that would have to be considered. A site design was made, with the Cel-Fi QUATRA configuration of 2 Network Units (NUs) and 7 Coverage Units (CUs) with a MIMO Antenna was needed.
The two NUs that are at the headend of a QUATRA system receive mobile phone signals via coaxial cable that runs to a MIMO antenna affixed to the outside of the warehouse. This donor antenna was located at the southeast side of the building—one of the few areas not obstructed by large trees. The donor antenna was attached to a pole that was just under three meters high, clearing the roof line and increasing the line of sight to the nearest mobile phone tower.
NUs are connected with Cat 5e cable to remote internal antennas (called Coverage Units or CUs). Four CUs were conveniently placed in the mostly open, ground-floor space which also houses a few offices and meeting rooms; while the large, open warehouse with low-level equipment and storage was outfitted with three CUs. Because Cel-Fi QUATRA leverages Power-over-Ethernet, no additional power outlets were required, enabling optimum CU placement wherever signal was required.
The Cel-Fi QUATRA system was installed and commissioned using the Cel-Fi WAVE portal authentication and activation system. The installation was further optimised with antenna pointing tools available in the Cel-Fi WAVE App, and the ready reading and optimisation of SINR, RSRP, and RSRQ. After successful install, Remote Access was available to manage and provide updates.
Immediately following installation, the e-commerce giant experienced clear and reliable mobile phone connections inside their offices, operations area, and warehouse. NET Coverage Solutions Director Dave Stephens stated, “Cel-Fi QUATRA is exactly the type of solution the market has needed. Safe for the operator, economical, and revolutionary simple way to deploy; bringing IT level ease-of-use interfaces to the RF industry. The expectation is that providing mobile phone coverage shouldn’t be any more complicated than Wi-Fi, and Nextivity has accomplished that illusion by its innovative design and simplified user interfaces.”