Choosing an in-building cellular coverage solution used to be pretty simple. But with the growing number of new technologies available, selection can be more confusing than you might think.
There can be a lot of hype around what each solution can actually do. But the truth is, no single solution can address every coverage problem. A lot depends on the layout of the facility/venue, the strength and source of the donor signal (cell tower or small cell), and what type of backhaul you use (DSL or wireless).
Pros and cons of available indoor coverage solutions
To help get you started, here’s a quick primer on the pros and cons of available solutions:
- Wi-Fi Calling – This option is only viable in certain situations since it has some limitations. For example, it only works with compatible cellular devices, does not hand over calls to the cellular network if you move out of range, and requires a connection to a Wi-Fi router.
- Small Cell – You might think it would be easy to install a couple of small cells and connect them to the internet. But they don’t come cheap ($3K to $5K apiece on average), and installation can get complicated.
- Active DAS (aDAS) – This one is easy to figure out. While it does provide reliable coverage, it’s very expensive, can take months to install, and is really only suitable for large installations (100,000 sq. ft. and over).
- Passive DAS (pDAS) – It’s a more cost-effective alternative than aDAS, and requires less equipment, setup, and maintenance. However it does not perform at its best if there is a large number of active users, and installation can end up being very costly.
- Active DAS Hybrid (e.g., Cel-Fi QUATRA) – This solution is specifically designed for the mid-size enterprise market, and can be deployed to cover areas up to 200,000 sq. ft. (depending on the configuration) at less cost and complexity than conventional DAS solutions. It can also be used in off-air mode or tethered to a small cell.
These basic pointers will be helpful when making your equipment choices. For more detailed explanations of hardware pros and cons, you can view our article in RCR Wireless on this topic or contact our support team directly at [email protected] or your nearest Cel-Fi distributor.
By the Cel-Fi Team