Guest Post by Scott Goodrich, President, Cellular Specialties
Today’s smartphone users expect a complete and robust experience. This includes excellent voice reception and the ability to email, text, download applications, watch streaming video and use LBS (location based services) wherever they may be.
They also take comfort in the knowledge that in the event of an emergency, first responder support is just a 911 call away due to cell phone reception improvement.
In the past, wireless carriers focused on optimizing outdoor reception. Now that 70%-80% of voice and data use occurs in buildings, the goal is to increase cell phone reception indoors for public safety and LBS.
RF, Cell Towers and GPS
This challenges the industry to provide coverage and capacity in buildings and areas where walls, man-made structures and uneven terrain tend to isolate users from RF sources such as cell tower and GPS satellites.
Inside a building, a cell phone signal booster or distributed antenna system (DAS) is often used to fill in poor reception. This adds coverage and capacity to enterprise space, campuses or other venues where macro network cell site signals are not adequate to meet subscriber demands.
Public Safety Concerns
Unfortunately, simulcasting (ex. voice and video) and delays in RF (radio frequency) path, necessary for adequate indoor coverage, hamper the ability of the public safety 911 system to automatically locate the emergency caller.
In some cases, DAS or Repeater enhancements worsen location accuracy by 1500 meters or more, slowing arrival of first responders sent by 911 dispatchers. According to the FCC, over 70% of 911 calls come from mobile devices, a growing problem for 911 agencies and medical first responders.
Location Based Services
Current technical solutions also create similar problems for commercial location based services providers. This fast growing mobile market is expected to reach $11 billion in revenues over the next few years and embraces a wide variety of applications. Some of the latest and most exciting social media and proximity marketing ideas rely on the accurate locations of indoor mobile handsets.
The FCC doesn’t currently mandate location accuracy for handsets within buildings as they do for outdoor subscribers. However, there’s a clear need for requiring better location tools since mobile phones are so prevalent indoors. Some carriers are employing technologies to improve the situation before the FCC takes action.
Cellular Specialties, Inc. (CSI) has partnered closely with Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest CDMA carrier, to dramatically improve location accuracy inside buildings using DAS and repeater equipment.
The CSI Co-Pilot Beacon (CPB), in particular, improves location accuracy with dedicated systems. McCarran Airport in Las Vegas and Texas A&M University use this technological solution to reduce position determination errors.
CSI continues to improve cell phone reception equipment for the carriers, a necessity in today’s “indoor” mobile world.
Scott Goodrich, who leads the Product Division at Cellular Specialties, is President and co-founder of the company. A telecommunications industry veteran, Scott has over 16 years experience delivering in-building wireless products and services. He also co-founded Wavelink Communications, a wireless communications company responsible for the early funding of CSI. Scott appeared in a previous MobileBeyond podcast interview: “Cell Phones in Buildings and Mass Transit.”