- A police department’s newly constructed two-story, 60,000 square-foot building had zero cellular coverage in some offices, with dropped calls in other areas
- The building’s robust exterior walls blocked the cellular signals from the most-used carriers
- Using analog solutions to generically boost cellular signals across all carriers would not cost-effectively meet coverage needs in the building
- Significant and immediate improvement of in-building cellular coverage
- Amplified signals for the most widely used cellular carriers
- Quick and easy install
The Police Department of the City of College Station in Texas had just built a new 60,000 square foot, two-story building. According to Paula Roberts, Technical Services Manager for the College Station Police Department, it was utterly impossible to place a call from a cell phone in most areas of the facility, and people generally had to stand outside in the parking lot to get a cellular signal or ensure their calls did not drop while talking.
“Our officers use cell phones extensively in their day-to-day work. There’s no telling where an officer is going to be at any minute, so they absolutely have to have their cell phones. If an officer is trying to communicate with someone who’s filing a report, a cell phone is typically what they use to speak with that person in non-emergency situations,” says Roberts. “Especially with COVID-19, if someone is wanting to file a report that doesn’t necessitate an officer actually visiting the person face-to-face, that’s the easiest way to communicate with them. Since most of our officers don’t have desks and we only have a couple of shared phones in group areas, it’s a lot easier for them to call on a cell phone. Whether they’re in an office or in their car, it’s a consistent way to communicate.”
Civilian employees – such as police assistants, clerical workers, dispatchers, people who help with fleet maintenance and building maintenance, and IT – also bring their own cell phones to the office and use them regularly, Roberts added.
As cost was an important factor in choosing a cellular booster system to install, the police station decided to boost only those carriers that needed it the most. “We selected Verizon and AT&T because those were the two carriers relied on by most users, and the two that had the poorest signal in the building,” Roberts explains.
Southern Technical Services, a Houston-based expert in radio frequency (RF) solutions, was engaged to resolve the in-building coverage challenges in the College Station Police Department’s new building. The mandate was to provide reliable cellular coverage while adhering to the agency’s budget parameters for the project.
According to David Segal, owner and president of Southern Technical Services, there was little to no cellular reception in the 60,000 square foot, two-story building because of the building materials, including those that meet LEED certification requirements, along with the building’s solid construction.
“Many times, newer government buildings are built as hurricane shelters that can withstand destructive weather experienced in this part of the country, or for a police station as both have much more robust construction on the exterior walls. Unfortunately, this greatly reduces the cellular signal penetration from the outside world to the inside of the building,” Segal explains.
To cost-effectively bring strong cellular signals from AT&T and Verizon into the building, Southern Technical Services installed Cel-Fi QUATRA, an active DAS hybrid that specifically addresses the challenges of poor voice quality, dropped calls, and dead zones in large commercial and enterprise buildings. Unlike analog boosters and Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) passive DAS systems, Cel-Fi QUATRA delivers a cellular signal that is up to 1000x stronger, offering a much larger coverage footprint. As the system uses ethernet cabling with Power over Ethernet, there is no need to install additional power outlets for the internal remote antennas.
“Cel-Fi QUATRA just works better than the systems from most of the other major manufacturers. We tend to get call backs from end users due to problems with other cellular boosters. With Cel-Fi, when we install it, we walk away and it is good to go,” says Segal.
The College Station Police Department has a large IT room where Segal installed two Cel-Fi QUATRA Network Units (NUs) – the head end of the system. Each NU supports and enhances the outdoor signals for both AT&T and Verizon, and digitally re-transmits the carrier signals with zero signal loss via ethernet cabling to eight Coverage Units (CUs), which are the remote internal antennas that rebroadcast the signals throughout the building. Four CUs were installed on each floor.
The installation was straightforward and took Segal and one assistant three days to complete. “The biggest challenge was with mounting the antennas on the roof and making sure to tie into their lightning protection system. The building had been hit two times within the last year by lightning. So, that was really important,” adds Segal.
Southern Technical Services
- Established in 2017
- Based in Houston, Texas
- Services include RF cellular booster systems, audio – video and control systems
- Customers include law enforcement, energy, engineering, construction, retail, and homeowners
Once the Cel-Fi QUATRA system was turned on, Segal says the new building went from having zero signal to having three bars of AT&T and four bars of Verizon. “The installation team went through it really quickly and we instantly had the amplification we needed,” says Roberts.
That has had an extreme impact on the day-to-day operations at the College Station Police Department, according to Roberts. “People no longer have to stand outside in the parking lot to make calls. Plus, I also had a lot of contractors who needed to get into the building. They would be trying to call me on my cell phone and I wouldn’t be receiving their calls, so they would be standing around until an officer walked by and could let them in. Having reliable in-building cellular coverage has been a big help for me,” she says.
Segal explains Cel-Fi is his preferred go-to solution. “As a general rule of thumb, I really like Cel-Fi is because it’s a higher gain amplifier,” he says. “When I’m in the areas that have very low signal levels, I get better performance out of Cel-Fi products. And when I’m in an area where one carrier signal is much stronger than a secondary carrier, and I have to amplify both carriers, Cel-Fi QUATRA works better because it amplifies each carrier individually.”
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This Cel-Fi installation was undertaken by our partners, in which Cel-Fi has a global footprint in almost 100 countries. For a referral to a local expert in your area, please contact us via phone or email.