The importance of forward thinking in providing cellular coverage in large scale new build and regeneration projects.

In large, high-profile sites like Battersea Power Station, Pan RF is seeing an increased appreciation of the benefits of planning for in-building mobile coverage at the beginning of a project. With increased use of smartphones in every area of our lives – voice calls, video streaming, meetings etc. – the need for comprehensive mobile coverage is now a given. Providing for coverage within the build or refurbishment of a site can save time, money and disruption.

 

Strong mobile coverage is essential

A strong mobile signal is now considered an essential service in any building, whether its primary use is business, leisure or residential. If the mobile service is unreliable for all or any of the four major network operators (MNOs), visitors and tenants will ultimately move elsewhere. Although Wi-Fi may be available, concerns over security, the inconvenience of logging on and speed of service mean that this is not always an acceptable alternative.

 

Early consideration of mobile coverage will pay dividends

Getting a survey and advice about cellular coverage at the project planning stage will save time, money and disruption later. Site testing can be carried out before the project begins to establish the coverage available for all four major networks operators (MNOs) in the UK – Vodafone, Three (3), EE and O2 – throughout the site. Coverage will obviously deteriorate with the addition of modern building materials and again once occupation commences. From site plans for the development and discussions with the architects, these factors can be taken into account to design a system to deliver robust coverage in the completed development.

Correcting an absence of cellular coverage can be very disruptive. Accommodating the required components (which can occupy entire rooms around 20ft x 30ft, depending on the building size) can be challenging retrospectively. Usually an equipment room has to be accommodated on the roof or in the basement, where it can take the equivalent of up to six parking spaces. Remote equipment units are then required to be located around the site and connected back to the main equipment room by fibre optic cabling.

With forward planning, the location and installation of the required infrastructure and cabling can be programmed into the critical path of the project, not disrupting critical timings or causing additional costs. For example, where cabling needs to be hidden behind plasterboard or suspended ceilings, work can be programmed for before the ceiling contractors begin their installation.

 

Forward plan for an aesthetic solution 

Working in partnership with architects from the initial stages of a project makes providing a virtually invisible solution possible, which is desirable for both high end new build and the redevelopment of existing buildings, particularly heritage and listed properties where preserving the integrity of aesthetics and the existing structure is particularly relevant.

 

“Early consideration of mobile coverage is essential to any development. It’s far more difficult to retrofit a coverage system and remain sympathetic to high end architecture and maintaining the integrity it requires.”

Greg Caster, Systems Engineering Manager – Pan RF

 

Giving consideration to cellular coverage early on in a construction or regeneration project undoubtedly pays dividends in terms of both cost and aesthetics. Pan RF has considerable experience providing bespoke, effective solutions to cellular coverage issues on large scale projects, including Bloomberg’s London head office, Battersea Power Station and the Savoy Hotel.

 

For a no obligation discussion on planning for cellular coverage get in touch.