By Todd Fariss
As the owner of a convention center or other event venue, vying for the next big booking is a highly competitive undertaking. While a number of factors go into why a customer chooses a particular venue for their event, in this day and age, cellular connectivity is certainly high on that list. Still, more often than not, it seems event spaces are fraught with connectivity issues that plague owners and frustrate attendees.
Case in point: the city of Seattle had to ask attendees of the Seahawks 2014 home opener at CenturyLink field to limit their use of social media for fear that they would overload the available signals and create a potential hazard in case of an emergency. And the San Diego Convention Center this year completed a major cellular structure improvement project just in time for Comic-Con.
Of course, it isn’t just comic and sports fanatics that are demanding better cellular coverage at events. Indeed, attendees to business conferences and conventions are sucking up more cellular signal than ever before as they find Instagrammable and Tweetable moments at every business event. Not only do these attendees expect to be able to use their devices to work, check email, and make calls home to their spouses and children, they want to stay constantly connected. After all, social networking takes place at just about every event these days (yes, even the American Society of Plumbing Engineers Convention and Expo).
Improving your signal — and your space
Poor cell signals in these spaces can be largely blamed on the materials used to construct them, including tons upon tons of concrete and steel. Couple that with the large amount of people using the networks and you have a recipe for disaster.
So, as an event space owner, how can you fix subpar, or downright awful cellular coverage within your facility to make your space more appealing to those who will potentially book it for their events?
In the case of the San Diego Convention Center, its project entailed installing hundreds of miniature antennas throughout the 200,000-plus-square-foot center to connect to the networks of different cellular carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile. This option, known as a distributed antenna system, is expensive (between $2-$4 per square foot) and therefore not a feasible option for most expo space owners. They are also time-consuming to install.
A Better, More Affordable Option
Luckily, a far less-expensive option is available and it’s just as effective. Passive distributed antenna systems, or passive DAS systems, allow event space owners to boost cellular signals within their spaces without complex fiber optics and antenna systems. Passive DAS works by effectively “boosting” the cellular signal in these spaces up to 32x. Passive DAS captures an existing cellular signal with an antenna, amplifies the signal, and redistributes it. These boosters can be configured to cover areas up to 100,000 square feet or more.
And it does so at a fraction of the cost of traditional active DAS systems. In comparison to active DAS, passive DAS cell phone signal booster systems can be easily added to your event space and up and running within a matter of weeks. The average cost is less than half of active DAS, at between 30 and 70 cents per square foot. Passive DAS cell phone signal booster systems are also carrier agnostic. That means superior coverage for event attendees no matter which major network or regional carrier they use.
To remain competitive in the events industry, strong cellular coverage is no longer optional. Implementing cell signal boosting solutions is an easy and cost-effective way to improve the quality of your space. By doing so, you’ll improve the attendee experience and remain competitive as the go-to events venue in your market.
Todd Fariss is director of WilsonPro Product Line at Wilson Electronics. Visit www.wilsonelectronics.com.