Is an Indoor Small Cell Wireless System Right for Your Building?

There are three important considerations for anyone evaluating whether an indoor small cell system is the right wireless solution for their building. Clay Kobernick, director of strategic supplier relations at Anixter, share the key questions you need to ask. To learn more, read our TECHbrief on preparing your indoor small cell wireless system for 5G.

Transcript: Is an Indoor Small Cell Wireless System Right for Your Building?

Hi, I’m Clay Kobernick.

An indoor small cell wireless system is a popular alternative to the distributed antenna system, but how do you know if it’s the right wireless solution for your building? Here are three questions to help you decide.

First, how quickly do you need your wireless system to be deployed? Indoor small cells differ from DAS in a couple of significant ways that make them faster to install: they run over Category cable instead of coax, and they have preapproved, integrated signal sources. In practical terms, this means that an indoor small cell system takes about 4 to 6 months from purchase to installation, compared to a DAS, which typically takes 9 to 18 months. If you need faster deployment, then you need to consider an indoor small cell system.

Second, how big is your budget? If you happen to be in a landmark building such as an airport or stadium, carriers may make it a priority to provide your facility with a signal source and take some of the cost on themselves. But for most facilities under 100,000 square feet, you’re going to have foot the bill for your wireless deployment yourself. A single-carrier indoor small cell system is going to be less expensive per square foot to deploy than a multi-carrier DAS.

But this ties into the third question: How important is it for your building to support multiple carriers? Unlike DAS, small cell is a single-carrier system, so it’s ideal for environments where your end users are primarily using corporate-owned devices, operating on your chosen carrier. For some facilities, such as hotels or college campuses, this may not be the best option, because your end users are bringing their own mobile devices and expecting solid wireless service, regardless of carrier. You could install multiple small cells to support multiple carriers in your facility, and this would still be faster than a DAS deployment, but your costs would increase considerably.

Be sure to weigh all three factors—deployment time, budget limitations, and single- or multi-carrier support requirements—as you consider whether to invest in an indoor small cell wireless system.

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