How telecoms can increase indoor coverage to up customer loyalty

Ajay SoniAjay Soni, technical sales manager at Cobham Wireless, says solving indoor issue will be important to customer loyalty.

As customer engagement teams from any of India’s wireless operators will testify, telecom service providers are fighting a seemingly endless battle to achieve the levels of service demanded by today’s ‘always on’ subscriber. The key to winning this battle is in the provision of reliable and robust connectivity.

A suitable signal and a competent bandwidth are fundamental of enabling all of the other services customers expect, yet this is an area where many providers continue to strife.

Customer insight studies by leading analysts frequently mention that one of the largest reasons for subscriber swirl is inadequate broadband speed. This problem is extremely prevalent indoors, where radio signals can struggle to permeate external walls.

A significant amount of money is spent annually by telecom network operators in India to upgrade their networks in order to support new services which improve technological ability, capacity and coverage provision in an area. However, many providers are still implicated for neglecting the stairs to indoor provision where around 80 percent of the current data usage takes place.

It is an arduous problem to solve. Building materials whether old or new provide a range of issues that obstruct the proliferation of indoor cellular coverage. From RF-blocking stone and marble to modern structures made of reflective materials, getting signals from masts outside remains a challenge. The poor signal quality then has an explicit impact on network capacity, thus reducing data throughput dramatically. Seamless four-bar data coverage is therefore pivotal to the user experience.

Five years back the main challenge for carriers was on how to extend the coverage into venues so as to allow subscribers to use basic voice and messaging services. With the widespread amplitude and demand for mobile data services, this need has now emerged as a way from basic coverage towards the provision of adequate capacity to allow bandwidth-intensive services, ranging from emails to social media, securing enterprise applications, cloud server access and High Definition video calling.

To meet these needs, operators must employ a range of coverage-enhancement technologies such as Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), Wi-Fi and Small Cells.

DAS is an important part of any operator’s indoor coverage game plan. Unlike Wi-Fi, DAS can enable the whole spectrum of wireless communications services rather than just providing the data. It also provides much greater resilience than small cells. In addition to supporting every major wireless technology including GSM, WCDMA and LTE, Fibre DAS is also capable of providing IP backhaul infrastructure serving, for example, small cells and devices such as surveillance cameras – reduces overall OPEX costs.

Increased flexibility

Traditional DAS has been successfully deployed for many years to propagate cellular coverage in high-profile facilities around the world. It is providing a robust service for bandwidth intensive activity in challenging environments to enhance customer experiences and strengthen data usage side by side reducing coverage-related complaints.

In recent years this technology has grown in finesse and many systems also includes capacity shifting technology. This empowers operators, facilities managers and other stakeholders to move capacity to where it is most needed, depending on the changing requirements of an individual area. This is especially pertinent in locations with pinnacle of activities in certain areas at specific times of the day.

For example, in an urban area, during the day coverage can be channelled away from the leisure facilities to business areas where it is needed the most, and later can be outfitted into busier areas in the evening. With traditional DAS, this kind of coverage arrangement would need to be hard wired into the whole facility, consuming significant power resources even when the capacity wasn’t needed.

By deploying a toolkit of indoor coverage solutions, including DAS, operators can dramatically improve their customers’ everyday wireless broadband experience and can directly address one of the key causes of the simmer.

Telecom operators will experience a reduction in existing and new customers which will result in them feeling the pinch on their bottom line if they continue to ignore indoor coverage issues.

Ajay Soni, technical sales manager at Cobham Wireless