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4G/5G : Why Is It Less Efficient Inside A Building?

4G5G Mobile Network

4G/5G : Why Is It Less Efficient Inside A Building?

With the rapid evolution of communication technologies, a high-performance 4G/5G mobile network is necessary for businesses. It allows them and their employees to stay connected to communicate more effectively and work faster. 

Nevertheless, it is often observed in urban areas that the mobile network performs well outdoors but needs to meet the requirements demanded indoors. This is all the more true in office buildings, where communicating with people, whether customers or suppliers, is essential. 

Communication solutions exist, such as emails and videoconferencing tools, but more is needed to replace the spontaneity and speed of a voice call from your phone, whether mobile or landline. However, the latter is less and less used.

What Are The Possible Reasons For An Unsatisfactory Indoor Mobile Network?

The first explanation results from the masking effect created by the components of the building. The radio waves emitted by operators’ telephone antennas propagate better in the open air than inside buildings. 

This is due to the attenuation caused by obstacles such as low-emissivity glazing, walls, ceilings, and floors, especially when the building materials meet environmental standards and HQE-type labels (high environmental quality). ), BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). 

It should also be borne in mind that between the radio antenna of the operator and the building that hosts the offices, there may be a greater or lesser distance with a certain number of obstacles, such as other buildings or various structures with an identical masking effect, further reducing the range of the signals.

These can also be disturbed by other electronic devices inside the buildings, such as air conditioning units and heating systems which can reduce the quality of reception or radio interference from other equipment—electronics such as computers and Wi-Fi networks. The capacity deficit of external antennas can also affect the proper use of mobile services. 

Although configured by operators to offer optimal use to a large number of mobiles, networks can be undermined by an abnormal density of simultaneous users, as can be seen when sending messages greetings every New Year’s Eve at midnight or when a goal is scored in football stadiums.

Finally, the most misunderstood explanation, but not the least impactful, results from the coverage objectives of mainstream operators. Indeed, the latter is challenged by ARCEP to cover the national territory in outdoor areas rather than inside buildings. This is despite the January 2018 agreement with the Government, which provides for good indoor mobile coverage by operators but is mainly intended for small areas and often with paid solutions.

What Are The Consequences Of A Wrong Mobile Network Indoors?

A good indoor 4G/5G network can positively affect the business. In particular, its employees’ productivity dropped due to the abandonment of the workstation, more or less extended to make their communications or consulting their telephone from areas where the network will be satisfactory.

A poor mobile network can also cause communication difficulties with the company’s partners, whether customers, suppliers, or others. One of the first trades impacted will undoubtedly be that of salespeople whose mobile phones remain among the essential tools of the trade, in particular for reaching their customers. 

Being unable to be reached during office hours can also generate customer dissatisfaction with the sales force. Finally, the lack of connectivity and access to the mobile network can create frustration among employees, particularly among the youngest, for whom the need to be connected and reachable has become essential and is an integral part of their well-being in the workplace.

Indeed, according to a TNS SOFRES study, 85% of employees believe that the use of digital technologies has had a positive impact on their quality of life at work, and 90% of business leaders believe that this use has a positive effect on the quality of life at work of the employees of their company. 

The lack of connectivity, whether for professional or personal use, can generate strong dissatisfaction among employees and ultimately result in departures from the company, with a cost passed on to human resources and linked to the replacement of these employees.

What Solutions Can Improve The 4G/5G Network In a Building?

Poor mobile connectivity in a building is not inevitable, and relatively limited solutions exist to improve the network.

Choosing The Right Service Provider

The most obvious and least expensive is to choose the operator who offers the best services in his building. It will be necessary to ensure that one of the operators provides a satisfactory level of service in all the desired zones, which can be challenging! Especially on more significant sites, which can have very heterogeneous coverage from floor to floor and from one side of the building to the other.

Another free alternative can be the collaborator installation optimization. It is then necessary to place the most sensitive employees in areas with the best possible mobile coverage. Consequently, it is essential to ensure, on the one hand, that the building has such an area and, on the other hand, to identify and choose the operator who offers the best level of service.

Voice Over Wi-Fi

Switching voice or messaging mobile communication services to Wi-Fi instead of the mobile network can make it possible to circumvent poor 4G/5G reception directly with its Wi-Fi infrastructure. This will depend on the appropriate sizing of the Wi-Fi network and a configuration specific to Wi-Fi Calling (or Voice over Wi-Fi).

Antenna Systems

As for paid solutions, more or less complex antenna systems also exist. They will either:

  1. To fill areas requiring increased coverage by setting up Small Cells ( access points to a mobile telecommunications network ), which will cover a few hundred square meters with a limited number of users per antenna;
  2. To repeat the signal from inside the building by setting up repeaters. This signal repetition will nevertheless be subject to the authorization of the operators to avoid disturbing their radio schedules and which will depend on a good operator network outside the building;
  3. Create an infrastructure dedicated to the company’s needs by setting up an Indoor Mobile Coverage or Distributed Antenna System (DAS) infrastructure. The latter will make it possible to have its operator infrastructure modular and with an impeccable level of service.

The choice of one solution rather than another will depend on several criteria, such as connectivity needs, site typology, network use, communications criticality, and, of course, the company’s budget. In any case, it will be essential to perform performance tests following the deployment of the solution to ensure that the network is functioning correctly. 

This may include speed tests that measure download speed and coverage tests to provide complete coverage of the desired area. Studying the subject well beforehand will also be essential to be clear about choosing the chosen solution. Indeed, the process can sometimes be long and complex, especially when knowledge of the subject is limited. 

A wrong choice can have significant negative impacts, and the accompaniment of an expert can be exciting to benefit from his experience and advice on the subject, thus making it possible to save time and reduce expenses in his approach to improving coverage.

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