We’ve been doing a lot of work of late in high rise buildings throughout London measuring mobile coverage from the macro network across all operators and the penetration of those cellular frequencies into sites as tall as 67 stories.
In many tall developments we’re actually finding that mobile coverage is very good in-building, across all operators (EE, O2, Vodafone, Three), however, what is apparent is the high levels of noise to signal ratio whereby a mobile device has line of sight to so many cell sites on roof tops that it’s creating a very poor experience with conflicting frequencies. This is the scenario where a user will get 5 bars but can’t make a call or initiate a data session for internet browsing etc. It’s important to remember that 5 bars on a phone doesn’t mean there is adequate capacity on the network or that the signal being received is of good quality.
In terms of how this affects an in-building mobile coverage deployment is that we must dominate these poor signal coming into a site with a coverage solution and if there is good penetration with inadequate frequencies, we will require more equipment (more cost) to ensure we give end users a high level of experience and that the Mobile Network Operators (MNO’) will sign off a design; it's their spectrum after all so they want to know whatever is being installed will work properly.
These coverage surveys are highlighting to our customers the importance of not only planning for in-building mobile coverage in the early stages of a development but the need itself for a dedicated coverage and capacity service. If an integrator is appointed early enough, pre-build, we can attend site and take these measurements which will allow the developer to more accurately budget for an in-building mobile signal solution by identifying the amount of equipment that is likely required to dominate any bad signals that may penetrate a building once it’s built. London in particular struggles in many locations for capacity on the macro network across all operators which is only made worse by a residential or commercial development with thousands of users draining an already struggling network. With high rise developments on the up in key locations such as Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, these are considerations for develops across the country, not just London. A trusted integrator can advise well on the best approach to an in-building solution based on the area of the development, external and external macro coverage measurements which will ultimately assist in attracting and retaining tenants by guaranteeing dedicated mobile connectivity across any operator.