Cellular for Residential
The in-building mobile coverage industry is seeing a sharp rise in the specification of dedicated mobile boosting for the residential market, particularly new developments, high-rise blocks, Build-to-Rent (BTR) schemes and city regeneration programmes.
For commercial developers, it’s pretty much standard to include a dedicated indoor 4G / 5G system within the scope of their site, whether it’s a full building deployment or providing the core infrastructure allowing tenants to pay and connect for signal within their floors, should they wish to do so.
Residential, however, to date has been not seen the same adoption. Much of this revolves around the historic cost, space and power associated with legal in-building mobile coverage, but we’ll come back to that later.
It is fair to say there are a number of economic and technical factors impacting the demand for reliable, dedicated mobile connectivity, especially in city areas such as London, Birmingham and Manchester. As city populations have become denser, more and more roof top towers have been required to increase coverage and capacity for mobile networks, however, this can cause radio interference whereby you get 5 bars but a poor experience; try connecting to that signal inside a building and the experience is worse still.
The dreaded C word (Covid) has of course proved a need for reliable 4G at home to keep business operational whilst people are away from the office. In general terms though, the demand is driven by technical factors in the construction of these developments, i.e modern building materials. The more environmentally friendly our materials and techniques have become, the better they’ve been at reflecting mobile signal; there is of course no sign of this slowing down with sustainability being a pressing issue for the construction industry and built environment.
The good news is the right technology is now becoming available! 12 - 24 months ago, in order to deliver indoor 4G for 3 + operators, the answer was a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) with 4 to 5 x 47U cabinets of space, masses of power, long lead times for delivery and the top end of 6 figures for the pleasure.
Through the correct investment, choices in vendors, both hardware and software as well as a 20 year history of working with the UK mobile operators, we have produced a multi-operator Small cell and DAS offering with as little as 2U of cabinet space for 3 operators, a single circuit for backhaul, vastly improved delivery timescales and a variety of technology vendors to choose from. For developers with regeneration programmes, our newly developed multi-operator service offering even allows us to deliver 4G & 5G estate wide, both indoor and outdoors on the same infrastructure, with a variety of payment methods available from single once off payments to Managed Service Agreements on monthly payments.
For developers, consultants, landlords and facilities managers, there are some key considerations when considering a legal, UK operator compliant mobile coverage solution for a residential site:
- Active equipment such as small cells are only allowed within the landlord and common demise. This is restrictive in terms of the radio frequency design as in most circumstances, the ideal location is apartments for the best coverage.
- Ensuring you get an iBwave Radio Frequency design and indoor coverage testing as early as possible is essential for an accurate Bill of Materials and estimate. This can be done on a consultative basis before entering into an agreement for a system deployment.
- Any design carried out must be Joint Operator Technical Specification (JOTS) compliant. JOTS is the UK standard that all systems integrators must adhere to when connecting to the mobile operator’s network. JOTS also guarantee’s a carrier grade service for the end user.
- It is a legal requirement when handling licensed cellular spectrum that it is maintained properly by a JOTS compliant organisation who will in turn be required to have back to back Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) with the mobile operators.
To discuss more about how we approach residential coverage, or to arrange a strategic consultation with our friendly team of experts, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.