Small Cell Forum Publishes a Guide to Provide Better Indoor Cellular Coverage

Small Cell Forum (SCF) has published Options for Indoor Cellular, a comprehensive guide to help building owners and users understand what actions can be taken today to resolve poor and sub-standard cellular connectivity on their premises.

Reflecting on the findings of SCF’s latest market status report – which identified market growth in new cellular services and use cases, particularly in-building – the guide demonstrates how such opportunities are increasingly supported by new types of service-provider partnerships involving Neutral Hosts and system integrators, in addition to MNOs. A recent SCF survey of service providers predicts that over 70% of indoor enterprise small cells will be deployed by these new entrants by 2026.

Developed by SCF members including Cellnex Telecom, Crown Castle and Colt Technology Services, the guide outlines options commercially available today and includes comprehensive case studies of deployments around the world at sites as diverse as hospitals, remote oil and gas plants, ports, stadia and corporate headquarters.

The guide contains a comprehensive overview of all options for in-building coverage for building of all sizes and types, including; Self-install Small Cell, Small Cell Relay, Single Operator Small Cell Network, Neutrally Hosted Small Cell Network, Distributed Antenna System, Repeaters/Cell Boosters, Private Networks and CBRS (OnGo) Private Networks in the USA.

Recent years have seen dramatic improvements in business efficiency and productivity afforded by adopting new mobile-first processes, but these can make significant demands on available network, requiring fast data rates combined with high quality-of-service and low latency. It is imperative that these demands are able to be supported indoors, where at least 75% of enterprise data traffic is generated.

Issues such as poor or non-existent cellular coverage in apartments, offices, venues, hotels and conference centres can cause considerable frustration, and research has shown that residential and enterprise tenants are increasingly inclined to avoid properties with poor indoor coverage. This in turn reduces yields and increases churn for landlords. Despite a clear need, to date it has been difficult for organizations to know what they can do to improve mobile signal on their premises.

“In these virtual times, wireless is playing a crucial role in keeping us safely connected. The need for reliable indoor mobile connectivity is stronger than ever, as is the willingness of enterprise and industry to fund the necessary infrastructure for their premises” said Julius Robson, Chief Strategy Officer at Small Cell Forum. “Crucially, we have taken into account the important emergence of Neutral Host and other alternative deployers, who now account for more than half of new indoor deployments, and who have a central role to play in mobilising the enterprise by delivering multi-operator and bespoke private network solutions.”

“Demand for mobile communication continues to increase, and users expect mobile cellular service wherever they are with higher data throughput and seamless connectivity. In-building low power Small Cell deployments have proved the most appropriate solution, as an extension of current outdoor networks, being the cheapest option to provide indoor coverage,” said Piercarlo Giannattasio, Global Network Densification Principal at Cellnex Telecom. “Further, a Neutral Host approach supported by venue owners will provide even more efficiencies in the business model, reducing power and space consumption, facilitating the installation process and maximizing the willingness of mobile network operators to be on-board.”

Mark Reudink, VP Technology Strategy at Crown Castle, stated that consumers expect reliable mobile service - whether outdoors, indoors, at home, or at work. Connectivity is essential for operational efficiency, commerce and overall safety; and it is important that indoor solutions are in place to meet these critical needs.

Michael Ferris, Senior Architect at Colt , said that strong, reliable indoor connectivity is critical to the next generation of workspaces, which will deliver new ways of working and communicating for businesses around the world. Even if the context of communication is not business-critical, the inability to call, text or access the internet and data applications on your mobile device can be incredibly frustrating. This release articulates the wide array of technologies available now for businesses and building owners to solve the challenge of providing high-quality indoor coverage.

Click here to view the "Options for Indoor Cellular" guide.