In-store cellular coverage is an expectation for today’s shoppers who will often use in-store apps while shopping to find that certain item they need or to see what’s on sale. But many times, the locations of these retail stores can pose barriers to reliable in-store cellular coverage.
That was the case with a major national retailer that set up three smaller format stores in sub-ground locations in New York City. The store locations – each approximately 25,000 square feet – were essentially concrete bunkers, resulting in no cellular service at all. Customers of these locations could not use their cellphones instore, while employees were unable to receive urgent calls, and could not call 911 or use their cell phones to request help if needed.
While many say these stores can simply deploy Wi-Fi, but that doesn’t work in practice, according to the system integrator that was hired by the retailer to boost the cellular signal throughout the smaller format stores. “Customers aren’t used to having to connect to a Wi-Fi access point. They’re used to their phones just working and having cellular data service pretty much everywhere they go. That’s what we provided,” he said.
The system integrator installed the Cel-Fi QUATRA active DAS hybrid to solve the coverage problems experienced by the national retailer. QUATRA delivers a cellular signal that is up to 1000x stronger than analog boosters and Bi-Directional (BDA) Passive DAS systems on the market, offering a much larger coverage footprint for multi-carrier voice and data on 3G/4G/5G networks. QUATRA uses cabling with Power over Ethernet, so there is no need to install additional power outlets for the internal remote antennas.
According to the installation team, the ability to use Ethernet cable with Cel-Fi QUATRA is a huge benefit. “We can get 325 feet, or even double that if we use a range extender, and end up with a full power amplifier in a very different location,” said the lead installer. “We also don’t have to worry about multiple roof penetrations to multiple head-end locations like we do with a traditional wideband analog system. This makes it a much easier system to install.”
One Network Unit (NU) – the headend of the Cel-Fi QUATRA system – and four to six Coverage Units (CUs), the intelligent internal antennas that distribute uniform cellular signal to building occupants, were installed in each retail outlet. They also extended passive antennas from the CUs into areas where the signal was blocked by obstacles such as walls or metal partitions.
Since the Cel-Fi QUATRA systems were installed, cellular reception has been very good inside each outlet. “The occupants were very, very happy with the ability to use their cell phones for texting and phone calls as needed. We haven’t had a single issue with the system that’s required a return visit,” said the installation team lead. “We always look at every individual situation and try to understand the constraints and what’s going to work best for that client. We’re finding more and more situations where the Cel-Fi QUATRA system excels, and we find ourselves recommending Cel-Fi.”