Macrocells struggle to deliver indoor coverage

Operators' indoor coverage can be stunningly poor, necessitating the need for dedicated coverage solutions that go beyond the macrocell network, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by Signals Research Group on behalf of enterprise small cell vendor SpiderCloud Wireless, found that as much as 88 percent of an operator's licensed spectrum was underutilized in enterprise campus buildings. "On upper floors of high rise buildings a mobile device could handover as many as 51 times, due to the constantly fluctuating signal strength between all the visible cell sites," said the companies.

Outside coverage does not equate to sufficient capacity indoors, which is a problem given that 80 percent of all mobile voice and data traffic occur indoors.

"When operators attempt to use the outdoor macro network to provide in-building coverage and targeted capacity to a relatively small geographic area, this research shows that they are falling short. Their spectrum, which is their most valuable asset and in which they've invested billions of dollars, is not only being under-utilized, in some indoor scenarios isn't being used at all," said Michael Thelander, CEO, Signals Research Group. 

"However, while there are indoor coverage and capacity alternatives that give the user a range of ways to obtain connectivity, the outdoor user has no other means. It is the RAN or nothing. So, by shifting the in-building mobile voice and data traffic on to an in-building solution, not only is in-building coverage and capacity improved but there is also a direct impact on the capacity of the outdoor macro network."

Interestingly, Signals Research found that an unintended consequence of material designed to be more energy efficient was that it was also very effective at blocking RF signals from the outside, meaning "greener" buildings tend to have indoor cellular coverage issues.

According to Ronny Haraldsvik, SpiderCloud Wireless CMO,  other research has shown that more than a third of senior IT managers would be likely to switch to a wireless carrier that could guarantee better indoor mobile coverage and capacity.

For more:
- see this SpiderCloud release

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