Nextivity Delivers Reliable Cellular Coverage Across Expansive Medical Campus

Summary

Challenge

  • Texas-based acute care hospital was experiencing inconsistent cellular coverage throughout its 1 million-square-foot medical campus
  • Building materials were causing in-building coverage issues
  • Reliable coverage for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon was necessary for staff and patientsSolution

Solution

  • Cel-Fi QUATRA with QUATRA Fiber Hub

Results

  • Reliable in-building coverage for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon
  • Cost-effective solution leveraging existing fiber infrastructure
  • Aesthetically pleasing presentation

The Challenge

The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Health Angleton Danbury Campus is an acute care hospital serving the communities surrounding Angleton, Danbury, and Rosharon. It provides a variety of quality services. These include 24-hour emergency services, an accredited mammography program, cardiopulmonary clinical laboratory, diagnostic imaging services, outpatient surgery, rehabilitation, physical therapy, wellness, and much more.

Due to construction materials, UTMB Health was experiencing cellular reception challenges throughout its 1 million-square-foot campus. The campus includes a two-story hospital, a two-story medical professional building, a one-story clinic, and a one-story gymnasium well-ness center. While doctors relied on paging services for urgent messages, cell phones were needed by nurses, aides, and administration to contact people in the hospital. Patients also required reliable cellular coverage.

Verizon was pretty much nonexistent in about 85% of the buildings. T-Mobile was good in about 30% of the buildings. Then AT&T was about 60% of all the buildings. However, it was very spotty and would disconnect.”

– Christopher Cisco, Senior Field Service Technician at BearCom.

BearCom was brought in by UTMB Health to solve its cellular coverage issues throughout the campus. BearCom is North America’s largest solutions provider and system integrator of wireless voice and data communications equipment.

  • Founded in 1981
  • Based in Garland, Texas
  • Services include consulting and customization; turn-key installations and repairs; network operations center; financing; engineering design and evaluation; coverage surveys; integration; installation and deployment; and more.
  • Industries served include education; health care; public safety; facilities; manufacturing; oil and gas; utilities and public works; events; transportation and logistics; construction; and retail/distribution.

The Solution

To kick-off the project, the BearCom team did testing to understand what cellular signal was available from outside (off-air). The tests showed there was sufficient macro signal strength to provide reliable coverage throughout the medical campus when distributed indoors. BearCom also determined which towers had the best signal using Nextivity’s Cel-Fi COMPASS handheld, smart RF data collection device. COMPASS is designed to scan and measure the signal strength and quality of multiple commercial cellular bands and technologies.

Cel-Fi QUATRA Chosen as the Solution

Bearcom chose to install the Cel-Fi QUATRA 4000 active DAS hybrid with the Cel-Fi QUATRA Fiber Hub. This solution allowed BearCom to use the existing fiber backhaul already installed at the compound, helping UTMB save considerably on cost. QUATRA could also be installed faster and at a much lower cost than a traditional distributed antenna system, according to Cisco.

Cel-Fi QUATRA 4000 is a multi-carrier, active DAS hybrid for 5G/4G/3G that provides in-building cellular coverage to large commercial buildings. The Cel-Fi QUATRA Fiber Hub expands cellular coverage in QUATRA 4000 deployments on multi-building campuses. The Fiber Hub is used to dis-tribute the donor signal via optical fiber from one building or location to the next. The QUATRA 4000 Network Unit (NU – the headend of the system) receives the donor signal off-air from outdoor antennas. The NU transmits the signal over fiber to the Fiber Hub with up to 100 dB gain and no signal loss. The Fiber Hub can be installed up to 1.2 miles away from the NU to provide uniform in-building cellular coverage.

Two Systems Linked by Fiber

BearCom broke the job down into two sections, using two systems linked together by fiber. The systems were designed using iBwave design com-ponents and templates provided by Nextivity to maximize coverage for the solution.The first system was installed in the two-story hospital and two-story medical professional building on the campus. BearCom installed one QUATRA NU on the second floor in the main server room, with seven Coverage Units (CUs)—the internal server antennas – distributed throughout the hospital and medical professional building. One Cel-Fi QUATRA Fiber Hub was installed in the medical professional building.

“We utilized the customer’s fiber backhaul, the existing backhaul, to distribute signals throughout those buildings. We had one QUATRA NU system set up off-air at the hospital and then fibered into their main server room. Then that pushed signal to the Fiber Hub at the medical professional building,” Cisco explains. The second system was installed in the one-story clinic and the one-story wellness center. One NU, two CUs, and nine service antennas were set up at the wellness center. These were connected to the one-story clinic where a Cel-Fi QUATRA Fiber Hub was installed to provide both buildings with coverage.

The Result

As UTMB is a medical facility, BearCom had to go through numerous security protocols, including working in containment carts. As a result, it took the BearCom team of four approximately two months to complete the project. “Everything had to be in containment. For example, when you’d open up a ceiling tile, a dedicated person needed to stay at the cable reel. That person had to feed the cable because it had to be in containment. About every five feet, someone had to open a ceiling tile, pull the cable, dress it in, close the tile. Then he’d push the contain-ment cart another five feet, open the tile, pull the cable, and so forth,” says Cisco. “A lot of work, but worth it.”

“After installation, our average across all three carriers was about -84,” adds Cisco. Plus, the client really appreciated the presentation of the install. “We walked the entire building with the customer for our closeout to get their final approval. They loved the aesthetics of it.”

“We walked to areas where they were never able to call out like the physical therapy area. We didn’t run into any location where we could not place phone calls on all carriers. So overall, everywhere we went, there was a significant improvement in coverage,”

Cisco concludes.

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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.