Why Schools Need Cellular Enhancements

Why Schools Need Cellular Enhancements
June 17, 2019 Berk-Tel Communications

Cell Signal Enhancements for School Campus

An average of 85% of wireless calls are made indoors where signal transmitted from cell towers is obstructed by glass windows and cement walls, for example. Many modern environmental design specifications, such as Low-E glass windows, worsen signal extensively in commercial buildings and institutions. Cellular enhancements are a necessity in public and private facilities where the safety and security of many individuals are of concern.

The LEED standards have become commonplace for property developers and contractors to incorporate in their constructions because, not only is it a major selling point for tenants and buyers due to reduced operating costs and potential tax credits, but because it minimizes the environmental footprint and sustainability of the building. Almost every building or structure that has been built since 2000, from homes to skyscrapers, was developed with LEED certification standards in mind. New and remodeled construction projects combined leave the USGBC certifying almost 2 million square feet of space each day.

Similarly, in building DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) are becoming more well-known and implemented at the construction level, especially in large commercial buildings that have predictable coverage problems. The system utilizes “donor” antennas on the exterior of the building to supply signal for amplification and redistribution through a series of optical fiber, amplifiers, and indoor antennas that are placed throughout a building to enhance wireless coverage, making signal more consistent and more powerful and serving signal directly to users throughout the building.

LEED may also look at an in building DAS as something that improves the Value and Performance of the building, which are two of their standards, because it attracts tenants, and improves employee productivity and comfort. It also may score points in their Innovation and Smart Grid categories.

These building trends are not required in building codes, although many states are moving to make them necessary, however, they also make properties more appealing and functional to guests, employees, and lessors. Both markets are growing rapidly and are expected to be worth billions of dollars by 2020. But which factors need to be considered when these systems intersect; when green construction meets in-building wireless enhancement?

Low-Emissivity (Low-E) Glass Windows

For the ideal construction of a building, LEED certification and DAS installations are at the forefront of Class A building features. Low-E glass windows have a thin coating that minimizes the transmission of energy through the glass, and they are often used in LEED-certified buildings because they block the transmission of hot or cold energy, and UV light, into the building.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]

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Hard-Coat Low-E GlassMetallic (usually Tin)Preferred in colder climates because it allows more energy from the sun into the building and aids in heating the building.
Soft-Coat Low-E GlassSilver (sandwiched between two panes of glass)Preferred in warmer climates because it minimizes the transmission of heat into the building and reduces air conditioning costs.


Soft-Coat Low-E Glass is significantly more expensive than Hard-Coat, however, both achieve a specific goal while allowing visible light in.

How Low-E Glass and an In Building DAS Work Together

Disadvantage: Blocks Transmission of Cell Signal into the Building

These windows create problems for cellular signal, which needs to be retrieved from cell towers outside the building after traveling a certain distance. Cell signal wavelengths weaken (also known as attenuation) as they travel away from the cell tower, and by the time they penetrate the Low-E glass, there is little energy left in the transmission.

Materials used in energy efficient buildings, even concrete, steel, block, or brick, block the radio frequency (RF) signals that your cell phone uses to operate. If your building has Low-Emissivity glass windows, then a Distributed Antenna System is necessary.

Advantage: Blocks Exterior Interference from Entering the Building

Low-E glass combined with a DAS ensures that in-building cellular signal will be strong, but also that other interference outside the building will not contend with your interior network. Buildings with conventional glass are exposed to interference such as radio signals. Installation of a DAS in a building with Low-E windows is less expensive because there’s no need to address interference.

DAS and LEED are Good for Business

With the installation of a Distributed Antenna System, and by following the LEED sustainable design standards, your building can be energy efficient and environmentally friendly, while also functioning up to modern standards where we depend constantly on wireless coverage.

DAS can resolve cellular signal issues in any building with Low-E windows and can be installed at the construction level or in existing buildings. Our installations in completed buildings or retrofit/replacement installations are discreet, clean, and minimally invasive.