It is indisputable: our world is digital. For users and objects alike, the need to be connected 24/7 is growing, both outdoors and indoors. Yet indoors, companies often face the challenge of limited coverage: and it’s remarkably hard to tackle.
During this session, we examined the different aspects of the challenge at hand, from the point of view of companies that need to ensure connectability, and from the installation industry. And we received an update on the possible solutions and on the status of the ASTRID coverage.
This session was about indoor coverage in larger buildings, and for multi-operator coverage. But this is only a part of the story. For Beltug it is clear there is a serious need for affordable indoor coverage solutions, including for smaller buildings. Small cells are the way to go. We also need to engage in discussion with ASTRID regarding the perspective on how ASTRID makes use of the mobile networks and 5G.
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The challenge of indoor mobile coverage in a 24/7-connected world
Danielle Jacobs, General Manager of Beltug, and Kris Van Dingenen, Director Technology & Certification, Techlink, part of the Construction Confederation, opened the session by highlighting indoor coverage is a serious issue. This has led to a joint initiative between Beltug, Techlink and ORI (the organisation of engineering and consultancy firms in Belgium), along with the mobile operators and BIPT. Together, they developed new guidelines to help construction and real estate companies to plan and build qualitative multi-operators indoor radio infrastructures.
Indoor coverage in today's insulated buildings - a multitude of open questions
Wim Boone, Smart Buildings Expert at engineering bureau Ingenium then explained the challenges from the engineering level. Wim explained that, especially when building a new construction, the engineer can make a simulation of the coverage to assess what measures will be needed to improve the indoor coverage. But these simulations are only an estimation, and don’t provide the real result and related costs (slide 7).
The challenges are made more complicated by the many stakeholders that are needed to come to a proper solution: operators, engineers, installers, etc.
Solutions on the market are usually very expensive, while others are not legal (slides 16-17).
Other hurdles include contracting, quality and monitoring responsibilities: what are the SLAs in an indoor coverage solution?
Wim wrapped up by emphasising that the user experience becomes a driving factor for many companies: this calls for a proper indoor coverage and for a transparent situation (slide 23).
Recommendations and perspectives from the installation industry
Bart Bellemans, Telecom Advisor for Techlink, covered the installer’s perspective. He began with his vision on Indoor Coverage and the roadblocks he sees: (see slides 5-7). Among his conclusions: mobile telephony is fundamentally a technology designed for outside communication. Yet, 80% of mobile communication takes place within the company’s walls.
A M-O DAS (Multi-Operator Distributed Antenna System) might be a good solution, yet there as well there are many installation challenges. These vary depending on whether we are talking about a new construction, a renovation or and existing building (slides 11-15).
Bart’s practical tips include:
Active DAS for competitive ASTRID coverage solutions in medium to large buildings
Bart Verhaert, Business Line Director Physical Security and Critical Communications, Securitas sketched the building blocks for critical connectivity (like the ASTRID network) (slide 5) and defined the requirements for an ASTRID network (slide 9) and M-O DAS (slide 10).
An active DAS solution would save 30% compared to installing two separate passive DAS systems, he explained. However, this active DAS is not validated for the ASTRID network (slide 13).
How Dutch companies save money with a standard for indoor coverage
The final presentation of the day took us across the border in the Netherlands. Petra Claessen, Managing Director & New Business, and Gijsbert van der Hel, Project Manager, BTG - our Dutch sister organisation - explained how Indoor Coverage is set up in the Netherlands. They explained that the conversations with the different stakeholders on achieving a good indoor coverage were just as difficult in the Netherlands. So BTG decided to take a different approach and built a collaboration protocol: the DITS document (slide 8). In all, the consultation process - Inform, Consult, Process and Determine – took 102 days.
The document covers
The collaboration for this reference document has enabled a more constructive and cost-effective cooperation. Petra and Gijsbert highlight that this document will be edited along the way as the market evolves and changes.
"Mobile telephony is a technology designed for outside communication" Bart Bellemans' conclusion when looking at the issues with #IndoorCoverage. @Techlink_nl #IndoorMobileCoverage #SmartBuilding #MobileCommunication pic.twitter.com/Ju32bb9CIJ— Beltug (@Beltug) September 17, 2019
How does the #ASTRID network fit into the world of #IndoorCoverage? Bart Verhaert shares his insights. #IndoorMobileCoverage #MobileCommunications #SmartBuilding #ActiveDAS #MO_DAS #PassiveDAS @Securitas_BE pic.twitter.com/l8gP3m9bo8— Beltug (@Beltug) September 17, 2019
How is #IndoorCoverage improved and tackled at the Netherlands. @petraclaessen and Gijsbert van der Hel explain. #IndoorMobileCoverage #MobileCommunication #SmartBuilding #PassiveDAS #MO_DAS @BTG_org pic.twitter.com/SBEtVRK9Ma— Beltug (@Beltug) September 17, 2019
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