Why You Can't Get Signal Inside Your Building At Work
- 12 Apr, 2021
The call is set for 2PM. You’re dialing in...and dialing in.
When you do get a connection, the voice is choppy as in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea choppy. Video latency makes you feel you’re communicating in morse code.
Download speeds are slow and loading screens are forever.
“Wait a minute,” you ask yourself. “I’ve got 4G LTE, an unlimited data plan, the latest Phone, and I’m stuck waiting for this ‘advanced technology’ to catch up?”
So why does this happen every time you’re in any building?
While 4G, LTE, and 3G signals are generally reliable outdoors, getting signal inside many building becomes a chore, because building material is the #1 reason why cell phone signal can’t make it inside.
Why Your Cell Phone Signal Isn’t Getting Inside Your Building
Cell phone signals are RF (radio frequency) signals. They’re the AM/FM radio kind used to transmit information in far distances.
Cellular signal starts out strong from the source like a cell tower or cell site. But as it reaches kilometers in the distance to reach your phone, external obstructions like mountains, valleys, and tall trees and open air path loss weaken signal strength.
Usually when you’re outdoors in an urban area, there’s enough signal to make a call. But once you go inside a building, it becomes a dead zone, because cell signal must also push through walls, interior building material and other interference.
The degraded signal makes it difficult to make a call, send & receive texts, or use the internet.
That’s why people in the center of a building never get reliable reception with any mobile network operator. They’re always running to the window or outside. According to the 2018 In-Building Mobile Connectivity Report, employees inside office buildings spend up to 44 hours a year dealing with poor cell phone signal.
Which Building Material is the Most Disruptive to Getting Good Signal
Metal by far is the worst offender with up to - 50 dB loss.
All cell phone signal operates with a certain frequency: -50 dBm to -120 dBm. -50 dBm is full bars. -120 dBm is basically a dead zone. The closer you are to - 50 dBm, the better your signal. The closer to -120 dBm, the worse your signal.
Let’s say you have -50 dBm signal outside (full bars) but have a building or factory lined with any or all types of metal: steel, aluminum, brass, copper, iron, etc. This means it can potentially subtract an additional -50 dB once it reaches inside for a signal strength of -100 dBm (1-2 bars).
And remember, this is assuming you have PERFECT signal outside.
Most places Bolton Technical have measured with good signal strength starts at -70 to - 80 dBm. Which means you literally can go from 2-3 bars of reliable 4G signal to a dead zone once you go past those doors.
Solutions for Getting STRONGER Cell Phone Signal Inside
While WiFi will always be the first option for connecting to the internet indoors. Having a strong and reliable in-building cellular connection is equally important as a secondary system when needing to connect to the internet in case of a down or congested WiFi network.
With the rise of faster 4G speeds and the incoming 5G that will rival today’s WiFi networks, IT managers and facility managers are now selecting cell phone signal boosters to improve their indoor cellular connectivity. Whereas building material subtracts dB to signal, cell phone signal boosters add dB to signal by amplifying or bypassing building material.
|Metal||-32 to -50|
|Tinted & Low E-Glass||-24 to -40|
|Concrete and Cement||-10 to -20|
|Brick||-8 to -28|
|Plaster||-8 to -16|
|Solid Wood||-5 to -12|
|Plywood||-4 to -6|
|Fibre Glass Insulation||-2|
Let’s look at the top options:
Active DAS (Distributed Antenna System)
DAS stands for distributed antenna system. It’s a system of antennas and remote nodes that improve cellular coverage inside any office building.
Active DAS uses fiber optic cables and converts analog RF signal to digital for longer cable runs and wider coverage. It also connects directly to the mobile network thus providing the best coverage especially for large complexes like stadiums and airports.
However, it’s expensive, and deployment time is long due to getting mobile network operator permission and necessary requirements. Also, permission is limited to only ONE mobile network operator at a time, so having a multi-network active DAS system requires 4 independent requests for permission to connect to Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom. Enjoy the paperwork!
- Basically adding a mini cell tower inside the building.
- Strongest indoor coverage for cellular
- Good for very large buildings 15 000m² or more
- Requires permission from each mobile network operator
- Long installation time
Passive DAS (Distributed Antenna System)
Passive DAS pulls in off-the-air cellular signal and amplifies it to and from the cell tower. Because it is already using existing network signal, it does not require permission and is cheaper and faster to install. It is important though, to ensure the product you are purchasing is approved by ICASA.
Passive DAS is also known as a cell phone signal booster. It’s most popular for home use; however, stronger commercial signal boosters are now entering the small medium enterprise market.
It’s not as powerful as Active DAS and is dependent on the quality of outside signal. Yet it’s a cheaper option for smaller metal buildings.
- Amplifies outside signal and brings it inside
- Cheaper than active DAS & fast installation time
- Good for small buildings up to 10,000m².
- Not as powerful as active DAS
- Dependent on outside signal
Read our Office Cell Phone Signal Booster Case Studies:
- Cell Phone Connectivity For Bongani Rainmaker
- Cell Phone Signal Booster Solution For Studio 88's Corporate Offices
For Large Commercial Buildings and Large Enterprise
This is a commercial-grade product that requires EXPERT ADVICE from professionals.
- Enhances Voice and Data (3G, 4G LTE) coverage for buildings 8000m²+ for all supported networks
- +70 dB gain and +21 dBm uplink
- Four independently controlled indoor antenna ports
- Real time performance and wired access to WilsonPro Cloud for remote monitoring
- Three outdoor antenna ports to target multiple network towers
- XDR technology to virtually eliminate shutdown or signal loss.
- 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen for an enhanced user-experience.
With that kind of upload power, it has greater reach than any other booster, allowing it to bring in critical signal from far-away cell towers.
Bolton Technical always has the answer. Depending on the size, scope, and situation, the experts at Bolton Technical can tailor a custom solution for you in time, under budget, and professionally installed.
Services we provide:
- Floor plan analysis with detailed heatmaps & coverage expectations.
- Consultation adhering to your requirements and budgets.
- Equipment selection from only the best.
- Site survey from certified wireless technicians.
- Professional turnkey installation & expert project management.
Contact us today to get the best solution.