In Building Wireless Training

3 Considerations For Choosing The Right In-Building Wireless Solution

3 Considerations For Choosing The Right In-Building Wireless Solution

21 February 2018 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

Being able to ensure seamless, high-quality, high-speed indoor connections is crucial for enterprise spaces; particularly as demands for connectivity continue to increase.

It’s this challenge that’s currently driving increased adoption of in-building wireless (IBW) solutions. So if a dedicated IBW solution is in your future, what should it look like?

As we’ve explored in previous posts, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to IBW – defining the right solution will depend on the requirements of the enterprise space itself. And while some unlicensed technology (like Wi-Fi) may be a simpler solution, its many limitations make it unsuitable as a standalone solution in many, if not most, enterprise environments. Today, IBW is the answer to ensure flexibility, reliability and profitability in enterprise connectivity.

So, how should you choose the right IBW solution for your enterprise needs? The answer depends on a range of considerations which we’ll explore throughout this post.

In-building wireless considerations: space, occupants, demand, and the future


Consideration 1: What space do you have?

The first question to address when considering IBW is simple: what kind of space will your IBW solution need to serve? Building occupancy, size, physical layout and more will all impact technology selection.

So, before deciding on a solution, it’s wise to consider:

  • If your space is low, spread out and horizontal, or tall and vertical,
  • If the coverage area is outdoors, indoors, or a mix of both,
  • If high tenant turnover is an issue, or if occupancy levels are expected to change dramatically at any point (such as in an arena),
  • If the space will need to provide IBW access to tenants, the public, or just to building management?,
  • If tenants are likely to be technologically driven (and therefore likely to increase per-user demand),
  • If there is a need to provide access to all wireless operator networks, or if one is enough,
  • If local regulations require that the enterprise space supports public safety networks.


Consideration 2: Will you need one, two or multiple operators?

IBW solutions are distinct in their capacity to interface with the wireless operators who run the macro networks. So additionally you will need to consider operators; will you need one, two or multiple operators?

  • Simpler, single-operator IBW solutions will only support one operator’s network, which is fine in cases where tenants only use company-issued mobile devices (that all run on a single operator network). These are often the simplest to set up, and least expensive to run, yet can lock you into a single relationship for all users.
  • Dual-operator solutions however, can be expanded to connect with two operators, merging traffic on the same frequencies and separating them with dual-band LTE radios. These solutions provide much greater accessibility – yet may reduce the throughput available on each network.
  • There are also multi-operator solutions that are able to interface with all operators out of the box; though the way this is achieved varies from solution to solution. Small cells for example, require additional radios for each new operator added, whereas DAS solutions connect directly to more than one operator’s core network without additional modification. Multi-operator solutions are typically used in spaces where bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies prevail or where retail customers regularly come and go.

As a guide, small cell solutions are generally suited to single-operator deployments, and DAS is more easily used in multi-operator deployments.


Consideration 3: Power levels and energy costs

There’s more to consider with IBW solutions than type – power is just as important, and different IBW solutions operate at different power levels.

Of course, the size shape and construction of the enterprise shape served by an IBW solution will impact power level requirements but generally, as you’d expect, the larger the inside space covered and the more walls a signal must penetrate, the greater the power requirement.

Yet, while it may seem intuitive that more power equals a better solution, that’s not always the case; some municipalities have strict regulatory requirements that govern how much RF power may be used in human-populated areas, such as indoor enterprise spaces. Higher power solutions also equate to more electricity and increased incremental operating costs.

Looking at the differences between solution classifications:

  • Low power solutions: 0.04 to 0.2 Watts, yielding a signal power c. +16 to +23 dBm
  • Medium power solutions: 1.0 to 2.0 Watts, yielding c. +30 to +33 dBm
  • High power solutions: 20.0 to 40.0 Watts, yielding c. +43 to +46 dBm

Combination IBW solutions can also overlay low and high-power coverage for optimal flexibility deployment efficiency – as well as reduced floor space requirements and energy costs.


Considering Your IBW Future

As IBW has evolved, solutions have become more innovative; meaning that today, there are more affordable ways to deploy, operate, optimize and adapt networks, up to 5G and beyond; ensuring a bright IBW future.

And while many factors will figure into an IBW solution consideration, future-readiness must feature on the list. The single most important feature that will ensure future readiness is infrastructure – the cabling that carries the signals to the headend or radio. Ensuring a wide enough pipe means an enterprise space will be able to adapt quickly to new technologies and standards.

For enterprise building owners and managers, considering an IBW future is crucial in order to meet increasing connectivity demands. Yet for infrastructure experts, considering the future is just as important. After all, only those who are equipped with up-to-date wireless training certifications will be prepared to offer and install the right IBW solutions, in the right situations, at the right times.

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