Connection 9: In-Building Radio Coverage

Increasingly, public buildings, institutions, industrial plants and commercial complexes demand critical communications that keep their workers, infrastructure and operations, and the public safe. Tait coverage expert Craig Given takes Connection Magazine through some of the issues that radio network operators face, in providing seamless coverage across their area of operations.

With greater capacity required for data transmissions, and security demands rising, front-line Public Safety officers, security, operations and maintenance, and many other workers need to communicate at any time, often across the complex topography of built environments and campuses.

Radio reception inside a building can be compromised by multiple factors: between-floor soundproofing, exterior cladding, predictable interference from machinery and digital devices, even high-spec toughened glass can all impact your radio communications. When you are planning a new, or upgraded, radio network, it is critical that you factor in the in-building coverage you need, right at the design stage. There are two common methods that system designers typically use to predict and verify that coverage is available – regardless of where a radio user might find themselves within a building.

  • In the past, a computer modeled report might predict your in-building coverage based simply on the geometry of your buildings. Often created by engineers remote from the site, this may use architectural plans from when the building was first designed. Unfortunately, this type of computer modeling cannot accurately compensate for architectural features that may interfere with radio coverage, or renovation, modifications or changes of use in the years (or even decades) since the build was completed. This typically leads to false assumptions, and an overly-optimistic coverage prediction that potentially endangers workers with coverage dead spots. Alternatively, it might be used to justify an over-engineered system, building in additional – and costly – infrastructure “just in case”.
  • As with many other aspects of life, there is no substitute for “being there”. While a computer-modeled prediction is a good starting point, a more accurate and reliable approach is a physical, in-building coverage survey carried out on-site by specialist coverage engineers. This structured survey planning ensures skilled technicians investigate each floor, each building, including basements and high-security areas like cargo storage, operations, security screening and customs, where radio coverage is crucial to maintain security for workers, equipment and assets. They will record multiple, site-specific measurements that capture actual signal strength, from your existing channels or proxy channels based on the new system proposal. The results from an on-site coverage survey will give you confidence that your new network will deliver the in-building coverage you need.

Understanding exactly what you need to meet your organization’s in-building coverage requirements avoids costly and time-consuming re-engineering post-installation, simply to achieve the coverage results you specified in the first place. An on-site coverage survey can identify and resolve potential issues at the system design phase while it is still possible to resolve them.

As organizations evolve, so too does building use; expanding, renovating or re-purposing buildings can all change the way an existing network operates. An on-site coverage survey will confirm coverage after relocation, renovation or building use changes, keeping workers safe and protecting assets and equipment.

Perhaps you are experiencing an existing in-building coverage issue on your current network. A coverage survey can help troubleshoot, by locating the cause and position of existing issues to optimize the network you have in place now. There’s a good chance that these issues can be resolved with a simple technical solution, or even changes in work procedures.

Regardless of the situation, the key to the success of an in-building coverage survey lies in the expert analysis when the recorded data is analyzed and is compared to predefined thresholds. Data is processed, and building maps produced, indicating relative coverage strength across the site. Coverage experts will then provide technical recommendations, to effectively resolve the in-building coverage issues identified in the survey.


Interested in learning more about coverage? Click here to download our whitepaper on how to define your coverage goals. Or if you’ve got a burning question, get in touch with an expert at Tait to discuss your specific coverage needs.

For more articles like this, check out the latest edition of  Connection Magazine online, or subscribe today to receive new issues of Connection as they’re released, along with other informative content from Tait.

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