Ready built? Indoor coverage for mobile communications. Takeaways from the Beltug N-sight: 16 February 2017


Indoor mobile coverage has become something people consider to be a ‘right’ – and they are quick to notice when they don’t have the coverage they expect. So how do you enhance indoor coverage in your offices and within your company walls? For several years, Beltug has been keeping a finger on the pulse of the topic. At this N-sight, we brought together expertise gained from real-life experiences as well as presenting our own efforts and findings.

Beltug members can see presentations from the event here (after login):

Ready built? Indoor coverage for mobile communications: Beltug presentation

Creating value beyond the build: BESIX presentation

Indoor coverage today -Beltug’s role: Beltug presentation

Multi-technology and multi-operator DAS systems for indoor coverage - real life cases: Securitas presentation

Digital indoor solution: Huawei presentation

Indoor coverage is of course a hot topic for companies in the construction domain, so our thanks to host BESIX, ably represented by Geert Aelbrecht, Group Human Resources & Communication Director. Geert gave a brief introduction on construction company BESIX.  Established in 1909, this Belgian company now has over 100 years of experience and is internationally active, in the EU, Middle East, Far East and Africa.

People are key to the company, whose reputation is backed by engaged teams, he told us. Very much focused on growth and on constant creativity, BESIX differentiates itself through its extensive domains of expertise (all in-house!).

Danielle Jacobs then introduced the topic of indoor coverage, giving an overview of Beltug’s activities. Based on a position paper we wrote in 2015, BIPT set up a market consultation and organised several working groups. Two are led by Beltug:

  • Creating awareness within the construction industry
  • Creating more transparency in the contracts with mobile operators

In parallel, the mobile operators are writing guidelines on the installation of multi-operator indoor mobile infrastructures in Belgium.

Both Beltug working groups are a success: the construction industry is very eager to work on this topic with us. Beltug is in close communication with Agoria Building Technology, Confederatie Bouw, Fedelec and ORI.

We are also making good progress working in collaboration with mobile operators to create more transparency. For example, we are discussing together the contractual bottlenecks that can arise:

  • What happens regarding indoor coverage infrastructure when a company’s building lease ends?
  • What happens regarding indoor coverage infrastructure when a company wishes to change mobile operator?
  • How can a company align its voice/data contract with its indoor contract?

However, this progress doesn't mean we are there yet. From the comments of the companies in the room it is clear there are still many other bottlenecks:

  • ASTRID coverage: companies must make sure to follow the guidelines when their building needs ASTRID coverage and the frequencies on the ASTRID network change.
  • Technology changes fast: what about VoWiFI as an alternative?
  • What is the situation with DAS-installations and 5G?
  • What can be done when there is no business case on the operators' side for offering indoor coverage at a site?

"There is a need for affordable multi-operator indoor coverage", she concluded. Member feedback is key to ensuring our efforts are robust, so we encourage your comments.

What to expect from Beltug:

  • Results on 'more transparency' will be available in the beginning of April
  • Beltug will organise a meeting with a few companies that need indoor coverage to discuss the next steps towards the market and towards regulators
  • Beltug will set up a meeting with IT providers offering alternatives or ideas on this theme, for a brainstorming session.

Then we moved on to specific solutions for better indoor coverage, with David Vermeulen, IBS Solutions Manager at Huawei. An active DAS antenna is often a better solution than a passive one, he commented, as the user experience is key and a happy user increases productivity.

He discussed various funding models for indoor coverage solutions, and went over some use cases and solutions (pico cells, lamp sites, SingleDAS, etc.), from large public areas to small offices or large shops.

What about indoor digitalisation? It is less complex, less expensive and comes with lots of value-added services. Indoor digitalisation will out-scope DAS over time, David claimed.

His key takeaways:

  • As indoor mobile service is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must have’, indoor networks are now business critical and should be considered a utility.
  • New players are interested in this market: neutral hosts, building owners, infrastructure owners, etc.
  • Indoor solution selection is driven by end-customer requirements, the operator’s business case and the funding model
  • Value-added services open a new market with almost unlimited possibilities.

How about multi-technology DAS systems? To start off his talk, Wim Steuts, Presales Support Manager Connectivity at Securitas, went over the drivers for a multi-operator DAS solutions, whether for critical communications or for situations in which a public mobile network or a quality user experience is needed. Have a look at slide 4 for an overview of these drivers.

There are several possible solutions to improve indoor coverage, he explained. Your DAS can be passive, active or hybrid. His main advice? Consider indoor coverage as a utility, just like electricity and water!

He included real-life experience from a number of Securitas projects (which you can see starting on slide 12 of his presentation), and concluded by picturing the future of DAS:

  • Active DAS will increase for larger venues
  • Passive DAS will increase for smaller buildings
  • There will be a number of changes in ASTRID requirements

How did Barco address the challenges of indoor coverage at its new campus in Kortrijk? Jan Delmotte, IT Infrastructure Architect at Barco led us through the project for this company that works on Cinema, Enterprise and Healthcare. He described the importance of connectivity for the 'The Circle' (the larger part of Barco's new campus), due to:

  • High number of visitors
  • Use of flexdesks
  • Etc.

This new N-sight format offers members a chance to learn from experts and peers about specific issues, with insights into trends, new technologies, how to prepare for them, and more.












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