Let’s face it; indoor coverage is critical for carriers moving forward. Small cells are going to be a bigger part of the enterprise, building coverage, and DAS as we roll out systems. The idea is to get better carrier coverage in each building. Who will pay for it? The carriers won’t pay. The building owners only pay for what they have to.
In the Obama administration we kept hearing how wireless coverage is a utility, internet access is a utility. We all need utilities, don’t we? However, there is no requirement to have coverage in any building that I am aware of. Maybe for public safety, there is, but even they don’t have national standards. The coverage is generally regulated by the local fire department. Building owners pay for public safety coverage because they have too, not because they want too. That’s why very few pay for a DAS system; it costs money. It’s all about the bottom line. If it attracts customers, then it becomes valuable. Again, it all depends on the market. Expenses eat away at the bottom line, and nobody knows that better than someone who owns or manages a building.
Just to let you know. Public safety DAS systems are needed so the builder can get a certificate of occupancy. They need the local first responder’s sign off for coverage. Sure, they will try not to get it and hope that the coverage through the window will be good enough because it costs money. The reality is that it costs money and they need the sign off before they can let people into the building. Generally, they do the bare minimum, which is still not cheap. Enough coverage required by the first responders sign off. It’s a requirement.
What about coverage for the smartphones? Only if they need to and can justify the costs. You see, they look at DAS and see the high cost to install and maintain and upgrade. It sucks to pay more money for something that’s not needed.
Hey, what if it was needed? Do you know when there are shootings, who calls for help first? The people on the scene. Do they have a smartphone? Chances are, yes, look how many videos we see. What happens when there is no coverage? Nothing, the shootings or another disaster, will continue until someone can run outside and get coverage. Let’s see what it’s worth then. Let’s see if they could have called 5 minutes sooner if it would have helped. What if, it’s what we hear all the time. Again, everyone looks around like it’s somebody else’s responsibilities. The carriers won’t pay, the building owners won’t pay, the government won’t pay, so who will?
It’s a shame we don’t have something cost-effective, like a small cell that could be put anywhere in case of such an emergency. Oh wait, we do have small cells that are cost-effective, it’s just that no one wants to pay to put it in, maintain it, and for the backhaul needed.
Carrier DAS systems are not cheap, but small cells are very cost-effective, so that is an option. If they want to have coverage, then they need to meet the carriers halfway. If there is Wi-Fi in the building, then offer to add the small cell, generally a $5,000 piece of equipment, along with access to the existing backhaul. It could be a win-win.
What carrier would handle the traffic? I would say Verizon and AT&T. AT&T specifically because they are partnering with FirstNet, but Verizon is everywhere. For Sprint that says that 1% to 3% doesn’t matter, it does if your friend is dying and you’re looking for a landline because your smartphone won’t connect. What if there is a shooting, and you look down and see no bars, then what? Run and hide and hope for the best!
Listen, there should be an ordinance for some type of carrier coverage in buildings. I can’t take it when there is a disaster, and someone dies when first responders don’t get alerted for an additional 15 minutes. Who’s to blame? I think everyone involved would say not me, that’s because it’s someone who could have done something preventative back when the building was built, renovated, or upgraded. Hey, we have Wi-Fi, hope your Voice over Wi-Fi works, maybe you will have the wherewithal to use Facetime or Skype while shots are being fired. That doesn’t sound as easy as repeatedly dialing 911, does it?
So, who is liable when that happens? Is it the carrier for not caring enough to cover that particular part of the city or building? Is it the building owner who didn’t want to pay for it? Who is it? Is it the local city or municipality officials who don’t see carrier coverage as a safety requirement? If you ask, they will all say, it’s not their problem. Whose problem is it when someone dies? It’s the family that suffers, that’s who. It’s not fair, but that’s how it is.
I think we need to look at who is at the scene when something bad happens, the first responders need to have coverage, but in a day when landlines are dwindling, we really should have an indoor carrier coverage requirement. It only makes sense.
I sincerely hope that none of you ever get caught in anything like the shootings we heard of or any other of the disasters that we hear of regularly now. But if you do, wouldn’t you want to call for help that instant? Or, would you sit by and hope for the best. I know what I would do! I hope you never have to experience that feeling.
Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!
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