Why You Need a Wireless Site Survey
28 January 2014 - 2:07, by , in Blog, 9 comments

When the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia recently asked us to make their cell phones work inside the building, we knew it would be a special challenge. The walls between studios are padded with five layers of sound deadening material, which provides a great environment for music studies but a challenging one for cell phone signals.

Wireless Site Survey

Without a wireless site survey of the building, we could have installed multiple powerful amplifiers throughout the building and hopefully created a solution that would have adequately met their needs. However, by physically inspecting the premises and applying data from an RF spectrum analyzer and a signal generator, we were able to save the organization thousands of dollars and design a solution that we were confident would provide a crystal clear signal throughout the building—even in a sound-proof room.

The wireless site survey provides detailed information that enables us to determine exactly how much signal amplification is necessary and where. This means we can purchase exactly the right bi-directional amplifier (BDA), exactly the right amounts of cable, and exactly the right number and type of bi-directional antennas for your office building or other commercial property. By avoiding the necessity of over-purchasing equipment to compensate for lack of knowledge, the wireless site survey saves the customer significant cost.

Additionally, by physically inspecting and determining strong and weak points within the building, Harris Communications can design a plan for installing antennas and cabling in a strategic manner to ensure better reception throughout the building, with no dead spots.

Without a wireless site survey, it is possible to obtain a strong signal within the building, but not only will the system be more expensive, it can backfire in terms of performance. An over-amplified signal may look like full bars on your cell phone, but the phone may not be able to power itself up high enough to get back to the antenna. And, without a properly designed antenna deployment plan, you may still end up with dead spots.

In some cases, a system that is too powerful can create noise back to the tower and shrink the coverage demographics. This will quickly get the attention of carriers, and they can demand that your system be turned off, and/or levy significant financial penalties.

To avoid these problems, every wireless site survey we perform begins with a physical walk-through of the site. From the top of the building, we look for the location of incoming cell signals, from cell phone towers to repeaters mounted atop nearby buildings. We note how many and which carriers are available from each source, and the strength of the signal. This information is used to determine optimal number, location, and direction of your building’s main antennas, as well as the size of the BDA necessary.

Within the building, we inspect each office space, hallway, and common area using an RF spectrum analyzer to determine exact levels of signal and interference. Combined with knowledge of materials and location of physical barriers, this analysis enables us to select the right type and number of antennas.

Careful measurements and noting of unique conditions, including inspection of crawl spaces in the ceilings, utility areas, and other location-specific data, allow us to design an exact plan for installation of cables and wiring. With the cost of copper consistently going up, knowing the exact measurement of cable in advance saves money and simplifies budgeting.

Now the Curtis Institute of Music receives clear cellular signals within offices, studios, hallways, stairwells, and common areas. However, it’s not just music schools that benefit. Office spaces, hospitals, factories, universities, and government buildings all can save money and get clearer cell phone reception with a wireless site survey.

Call Harris Communications for more information or an estimate: 803-325-1717

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