Mobile Misconceptions: nav the issues of indoor mobile c

By Seán Keating, CEO, Vilicom

In a world that is used to having terabytes of information in the palm of its hand, mobile connectivity has never been more important. People have come to expect coverage as a given wherever they go, and the business world is making a concerted movement away from landlines with a view to going fully mobile. Mobile connectivity is now crucial for day-

to-day business operations, but while the technology to provide mobile signal indoors has developed rapidly, building regulations have failed to adapt to the needs of mobile networks. Both old and new construction standards present serious obstacles when it comes to guaranteeing the mobile coverage that people and businesses need indoors. For facility managers, this presents a

serious issue. Managers are the individuals responsible for building utilities, and there is no doubt that mobile coverage is now expected in the same way as water or electricity. When mobile coverage is unavailable, it becomes very difficult to do business, but most buildings aren’t designed to facilitate it. At the same time, facility managers have

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no control over the construction of the buildings they operate and simply cannot not be expected to be telecoms experts. The transition to a mobile business model involves the deployment of complex and specialised hardware which has simply never been in the frame of reference of the vast majority of facilities personnel. Managers cannot be expected to have

a comprehensive understanding of the nuances of cellular technology which has never been a part of their remit – particularly as expectations for coverage and capacity have grown rapidly in the last 5-10 years. Fortunately, there are some simple questions that facilities managers can be asking, both to ensure they understand the issue of mobile coverage and to find the right solution for it.

“But my building is twenty stories tall/has good signal outside/is brand

new! Surely I can get mobile coverage inside?”

Unfortunately, mobile coverage issues are shared by buildings old and new, in urban

and rural areas. A British Chambers of Commerce study in 2017 found that more than 70% of firms had coverage black holes or ‘notspots’ in their immediate area, which rose to 90% in urban areas; the CLA have subsequently alluded to the extent of notspotting in the countryside as a “digital dark age”. With the vast majority of older buildings,

it’s understandable that mobile coverage was simply never a consideration in their initial design. Older construction styles were often heavily reliant on stone, concrete and brick which are all notorious signal killers, particularly in buildings that are densely packed together. Modern buildings, meanwhile, are

required to meet strict building regulations. The need to adhere to Energy Performance Certificates, as well as high standards of soundproofing and safety, which results in extremely efficient building designs. Modern insulation, treated glass, and other current building materials are simply too efficient at insulating those inside to allow mobile signal to penetrate effectively.

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