How Berk-Tel is Leading DAS Companies with Innovation & Partnership
Client Focused, Driven by Results
Berk-Tel Communications, Inc. has been committed to excellence in service and system innovation since its inception in 1998, providing a full range of low voltage solutions that solve their clients’ technology problems. In a competitive industry and vast number of DAS companies, Berk-Tel has established itself as a leader by creating a balance between being a full-service provider and offering highly specialized products and services. They’re well-known for generating remarkable results for property developers, property managers, building owners, and IT partners using specialized equipment to quantify those results for their clients.
“Our team works to provide solutions that go beyond the installation of components or the provision of services,” says Brian Berken, Managing Partner at Berk-Tel. The company takes pride in their totally customized solutions and the remarkable results that clients in a multitude of markets have come to rely on them for. “Berk-Tel’s goal has never been to simply sell products, but to add value by truly partnering with our customers,” Brian continues.
The company places a strong emphasis on technical training and individual growth, investing in their employees’ continued education and certifications, and ensuring that their talented team of individuals enjoy lasting, rewarding careers. Family-owned, their hometown team is tight-knit, but so is their huge network that encompasses the entire USA. 30,000+ technicians and 2,000+ dispatch locations enable them to handle major cities and small towns alike. They currently serve more than 25,000 sites across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
Berk-Tel Communications, based in Minneapolis, MN, established a wide network and leveraged their expertise to become one of the largest DAS companies and nationwide providers of cellular enhancement, wireless, voice, and data solutions. Consulting, design, construction, licensing, sales, service, installation, and maintenance round out their menu of expertise as innovative technology integrators, bringing unmatched value to their partners.
Modern lessors of commercial real estate are powered by tech and are bandwidth/application hungry. Having the latest and greatest technology requires a robust network to maximize your investment. “Our in-building solutions don’t just address cell or radio signal; we look at the whole picture and the needs of the business to integrate a number of enhancements or data systems that work together seamlessly,” explains Berken.
Committed to Innovation
While the company and its individual members are in a constant state of evolution, their solutions are always adapting to the changing needs of society and technological developments. The company doesn’t focus much on simply selling products as it does on educating partners about potential projects, especially in the public safety sector, for public and private buildings that are at risk without cellular or radio enhancements.
A common belief is that wireless enhancement in buildings is an added expense for convenience; nice to have but not necessary. “We’ve seen the many ways enhanced connectivity adds value to any type of property, acting as a selling point for potential tenants or buyers, greatly improving employee productivity, or preventing serious liabilities in emergency situations,” says Lead RF Engineer – Brad Konkel. Installing systems like “ICE” Interior Cellular Enhancement and “I-BAND” Interior Public Safety Band Enhancement help building owners and building managers sign leases for longer terms, for higher rates, equally an immediate ROI and higher profits.
Solutions like “ICE” and “I-BAND” can do more than simply enhance communication – they can save lives. If a mall, school, or hotel, for example, faces any type of crisis, public safety responders (police, fire, EMTs, etc.) absolutely must have the ability to use their two-way radio in the building. On the other hand, in a data-hungry world, seamless streaming of video (a favorite sporting event, a grandchild at play) or on-the-go web and app browsing on any carrier is good for business.
Mobile data consumption is expanding at an explosive rate, expected to multiply more than 10X in the next three years. Building and fire codes are changing, our businesses are changing, and adapting to these changes is the only option. Berk-Tel helps their clients meet the growing need for wireless solutions and address factors like funding, design, infrastructure, compliance, and unique challenges facing their building and business.
Some states are requiring DAS systems in their fire codes and verify compliance before issuing a Certificate of Occupancy. “We get calls from developers in a panic because their project is being delayed by a fire marshal; they simply didn’t know anything about cellular or public safety DAS, and we always hope to get in touch with potential clients before they reach that point,” explains Berken. Cellular enhancement is trending in the business and consumer markets, and it’s only a matter of time until DAS requirements are incorporated into fire and building codes, much like they were in the state of Florida in 2016. Berk-Tel is reaching out to property owners, developers, contractors, and architects to promote their solutions at the planning level, before costs rise and delays emerge.
When contractors incorporate in-building cellular and public safety signal enhancement systems in their construction phase, Berk-Tel analyzes floor plans and building specs to engineer the most appropriate solution, and the system is built in just as fire sprinklers or smoke detectors would be. “Clients appreciate that we partner with them to explain everything as much as possible from the beginning and take our time to give an accurate budget and design proposal,” Dufour says. Retrofit installations can be much more expensive than those made at the construction level, if they do become required in your state.
The names “ICE” and “I-BAND” have become industry terms that are often used by other big DAS companies, but only Berk-Tel Communications has ownership to the specialized, custom technology and equipment that those names refer to. Berk-Tel Communications is the only nationally certified installer of “ICE” and “I-BAND”.
In-Building RF Solutions for Public Safety (I-BAND)
One of the company’s foremost specialties is the design and installation of BDA (bi-directional amplifier) systems or DAS (distributed antenna systems) that support public safety communications. Berk-Tel’s knowledge and experience in the industry have played a key role in their success.
Their background in two-way radio systems, which are used by public safety professionals such as police officers, firefighters, and EMTs, is a combination of engineering knowledge combined with professional experience. “We understand how these complex radio systems work and function differently from cellular systems. If a public safety DAS or BDA system is installed incorrectly, it can completely interrupt an entire fire or police radio network. Being qualified goes beyond our responsibility to our customers; the FCC can issue large daily fines to us for interfering with a radio network,” Strategic Business Manager Josh Dufour says.
Among the first DAS companies to provide installations for public safety, the company quickly expanded its service area from the Midwest to the entire USA. Many public safety organizations are just beginning to realize that the BDA system is just as essential as smoke or fire alarms and sprinkler systems, not just within their organization but in buildings they travel to in the field.
Some states are beginning to require the installation of BDA systems or public safety DAS in their building and fire codes, making compliance necessary to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy. Awareness has been slowly building since 2010 but, most notably, the 9/11 tragedy highlighted the importance of in-building communications, especially during large-scale emergencies.
Due to changes enacted by the National Fire Protection Association and the consequences that can arise from a poorly installed emergency communication system, Berk-Tel designed “ICE” and “I-BAND” to exceed industry accepted performance standards and guarantee reliable and consistent communications for Government and Public Safety personnel, and for standard business buildings. Their distinct installations have been proven to be different, better, and more cost-effective than the solutions offered by other providers and are subject to ultra-strict quality control guidelines.
Looking Toward the Future
Berk-Tel isn’t just meeting today’s requirements; they look toward the future to help clients prepare for changes in equipment, technology, laws, and building codes. Though they are constantly adapting to change, the company remains committed to its customers, exceeding their expectations, and creating opportunities and financial growth for their employees and clients.
Expanding into the consumer market, the company is taking a leap to provide everyday people with improved cell signal and make it easier for them to understand. “We’re always trying to raise awareness of the solutions that we implement for large companies and now for people who struggle with bad cell signal in their RV, vehicle, home, or small office. They don’t know there is a solution to the problems they have at home or on-the-go; it can be a matter of safety and security for travelers and homeowners, or of business for people who work remotely. We’re just passionate about the technology and the way it improves and enhances our customers’ lives,” says Berken.
The new business division, PRO·CELL, is expected to launch in late 2018 and is comprised of only 4 products. Their business model is innovative because it doesn’t require buyers to analyze product specs, like carrier or device compatibility, or the specifics of their building or vehicle, such as square footage and building materials. Removing these complications can make cell boosters more attractive to potential buyers.
As the company continues to grow, it remains faithful to a few core values – partnership, integrity, accountability. Passionate about the solutions they provide and easy to work with, it’s no surprise that they have seen such success. “We take what we do very seriously, and we’re always looking for ways to improve our company and the lives of the people it touches, but we have a lot of fun doing it,” Brian concludes.