UberSignal installed the CEL-FI QUATRA active DAS hybrid to solve the coverage problems experienced by the national retailer. QUATRA delivers a cellular signal that is up to 1000x stronger than analog boosters and Bi-Directional (BDA) Passive DAS systems on the market, offering a much larger coverage footprint for multi-carrier voice and data on 3G/4G/5G networks. QUATRA uses cabling with Power over Ethernet, so there is no need to install additional power outlets for the internal remote antennas.
“The ability to use ethernet cable with CEL-FI QUATRA is a huge benefit. We can get 325 feet, or even double that if we use a range extender, and end up with a full power amplifier in a very different location,” says Morin. “We also don’t have to worry about multiple roof penetrations to multiple head-end locations like we do with a traditional wideband analog system. This makes it a much easier system to install.”
Due to the congested nature of New York, particularly where the store outlets are located, there were multiple other issues that had to be considered by UberSignal when choosing and installing the solution.
“One of the stores was in the basement of an eight-story apartment building and to get up to the roof we would have had to go about 150 feet in one direction to the back of the building then zigzag back and forth through the building as there wasn’t an existing vertical pathway to get to the roof to install the donor antenna,” says Morin. “Also, there were so many cell sites around the buildings that the signal quality was actually worse on the roof. There was worse SINR (Signal-to-Interference-and-Noise Ratio) on the roof than it was down on street level. And the retailer would have had to renegotiate their leases with the landlords to get roof space. On top of that, the length of the coax cables would have been just so dramatic that it wouldn’t have been worth it.”
While UberSignal would usually install the donor antennas on the roof, they took a different approach. They installed an omnidirectional antenna at street level and ran a traditional 400 series cable to a four-way splitter and then to the four individual donor antenna ports on the CEL-FI QUATRA Network Unit (NU), which is the headend of the system.
“Using CEL-FI QUATRA allowed us to still get really good results. It was a powerful solution that worked, despite the pretty specific constraints,” says Morin.
The near-far problem is also common in areas where there are numerous cell sites and a strong signal from a closer carrier site overwhelms a weaker carrier signal from a more distant cell site. Morin says, “As CEL-FI is able to amplify the various carrier signals independently, we don’t run into the near-far problem which can plague wideband boosters. That’s another area where we see CEL-FI perform really well. Because it amplified each of the carriers independently, we didn’t end up with problems where one carrier was really strong and another carrier was really weak. CEL-FI amplified all of the carriers signals independently and made them usable, whereas a wideband system would not have been capable of that. We would have ended up with a couple of strong carriers and a couple of carriers with very little to no service.”
UberSignal installed one NU and four to six Coverage Units (CUs), the intelligent internal antennas that distribute uniform cellular signal to building occupants, in each retail outlet. They also extended passive antennas from the CUs into areas where the signal was blocked by obstacles such as walls or metal partitions.