Today, there are an estimated two billion smartphone users globally, all expecting cellular coverage in order to connect with their loved ones, build relationships and complete work tasks ‘on the go.’
We should no longer hope for cellular connectivity when indoors. In today’s digital age, it’s become an expectation.
With an estimated 80 percent of mobile traffic originating or terminating within a building, it is critical that residents, visitors and workers have access to strong and reliable cellular coverage in order to properly make use of their mobile device. Despite this, only two percent of commercial buildings have dedicated technology to ensure strong and reliable mobile coverage indoors.
There are many potential reasons for this, and consumers and wireless operators have been surveyed many times about their needs and the current situation regarding indoor wireless. But what about the professionals responsible for designing, building and maintaining the world’s structures? What is their perspective and how do they see this problem being addressed?
CommScope launched dedicated research – carried out by Coleman Parkes Research – examining the current performance, attitudes and insights of building managers, architects and facilities managers regarding access to in-building wireless (IBW) connectivity – and to find out why so many buildings, and therefore tenants, remain disconnected.
Interviewing 600 respondents from Europe (represented by the UK, France and Germany) and the US, this report sets out to uncover some of the reasons behind the building industry’s attitudes, provides recommendations as to how the industry can overcome the challenges and seeks to uncover the value of in-building wireless connectivity to property owners, managers and tenants alike.
Chapter one: Attitudes towards indoor cellular connectivity
Cellular connectivity – the network access provided by wireless operators and connecting devices like smartphones and tablets to the mobile network – has become a consumer expectation.
Mobile connectivity also provides an opportunity for businesses to perform on a global scale, driving productivity and enterprise growth and ultimately supporting increased economic output.
As our research illustrates, the significance of providing in-building cellular coverage is clear, with the vast majority of respondents agreeing it is imperative that connectivity is available in all areas of a building.
Importance of providing cellular coverage:
It is imperative that we have in-building cellular coverage in all areas of our buildings.
But, while appreciation of this connectivity may not be an issue, there appears to be a lack of understanding of how best to ensure the technology is in place to meet expectations, with only just over half of respondents always considering indoor cellular coverage when working on projects .
The provision of general wireless coverage within commercial buildings is an ongoing consideration, although greater prominence is typically given to Wi-Fi than to cellular connectivity. Indeed, it’s unlikely to be much of a priority concern unless an organisation or a building’s tenants are actually experiencing problems with their cellular coverage.
How often do respondents consider wireless coverage on projects?
The explosion in high-speed, bandwidth-hungry data traffic resulting from the widespread adoption of smart devices poses significant stress and capacity demands on cellular networks. While moderately-sized buildings, of between three and 10 stories, and a relatively stable population are likely to have adequate capacity from outdoor cell sites, issues with capacity will generally arise in larger buildings with multiple stories and unpredictable population numbers .
In addition, architectural considerations, such as the use of low emissivity (Low-E) glass for windows to conserve energy, may improve a building’s ecological impact, but will also make it less receptive for mobile coverage from outside the building regardless of capacity requirements generated from inside.