Why Schools Should Improve Cellular Connectivity
K-12 schools, colleges, and universities are notorious for poor cellular coverage.
Up until a few years ago, that was acceptable. Desired, even. It prevented students from being distracted by their gadgets. However, with the use of mobile technology increasing in educational facilities, that is no longer the case.
Cellular devices are vital for teaching, learning, and let’s not forget about safety. Even so, maintaining a usable connection inside schools is unacceptably difficult.
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Why Most Schools Have Terrible Cellular Connection
Schools aren't built with cellular connectivity in mind, and they probably never will.
4G LTE and 5G signals have a hard time penetrating school buildings and efficiently propagating indoors. Exterior and interior building materials block, absorb, reflect, and degrade cell signal.
Think of the layers of brick, steel, thick concrete, and energy-efficient material that make up most schools. Then multiply that by the numerous classrooms, floors, and other interior interferences.
This results in limited indoor coverage and dead zones.
Strong Cell Coverage Improves Teaching and Learning
Smartphones, smart devices, and IoT bring new possibilities to teaching and learning.
More Student Engagement
Many studies show that student engagement increased when using mobile devices in classrooms. Not only is it fun and educational for all age groups, but it opens the door to different ways of participation that a board, pen, and paper, can't offer.
In addition, tech-driven lessons make it so teachers see what topics students are struggling with and address it real-time. In turn, encouraging discussions and improving information retention.
If there is no cell service in the classroom:
- Students can't access the necessary material.
- Teachers can't give instantaneous feedback.
Prepares Students for the Future
Mobile tech in the classroom prepares students for an ever-evolving digital world. They gain creative, communication, research, and digital skills sought after in the workforce. Without usable cell signal, they don’t have the opportunity to practice and master them.
Equal Learning Opportunity
Not all schools have the means to provide every student with mobile devices. Having reliable service allows students with smartphones to use their own devices in the classroom. The institution can then lend its mobile equipment to those who need it most. This way everybody has equal opportunity to learn, participate, and engage with tech.
Improved Efficiency for Teachers
Educators spend a lot of time grading and planning. Automation saves teachers tons of time. They can update lessons on the fly, simplify grading, make complex topics easier to understand, and much more. Most importantly, teachers can give students feedback quicker than before. Poor cell coverage hinders the learning process and takes away from the instructor's personal time.
Reliable cellular reception is especially vital during emergencies. This includes (but is not limited to) storms, lockdowns, and – sadly - active shooter situations.
The ability to call parents, loved ones, and first responders in dangerous situations cannot be overstated. Safety alert systems reliant on cellular signal also need adequate reception to send texts and email notices.
Effective two-way communication ensures the safety of all and the success of response efforts.
Doesn’t WiFi Cover Everything I Need for Indoor Coverage?
While WiFi is the standard for wireless communication, it has its drawbacks.
First and foremost, congestion.
With hundreds of students, teachers, and guests connecting to one network at the same time, the network overloads. This results in slow, unreliable, and insecure connections for students, guests, and staff.
How are students supposed to participate in interactive lessons? How are teachers supposed to deliver quality lessons if their applications won't load?
Improving cell connectivity helps offload congestion and enhance security.
In the case of a downed WiFi network, internet access and communication across all campus buildings go down with it. With reliable cellular coverage, your institution will have a secure network to fall back on.
How to Get Signal in Schools?
As mentioned above, WiFi will always be the standard. However, having reliable in-building cellular connectivity is equally important. It can act as a secondary system, reduce WiFi congestion, and offer different ways to connect.
While it may sound costly, there’s one affordable and reliable solution: Commercial Cellular Signal Boosters. They're also known as Passive Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS).
These systems capture your existing outside signal, amplify it, and rebroadcast it indoors. This is accomplished using outdoor antennas, an amplifier, indoor antennas, and coaxial cables. The coax cable helps bypass all signal blocking material. Your school will get strong, reliable signal from all carriers wherever it's needed most.
The alternative is an Active DAS. Designed to connect directly to the carrier network, they can provide the strongest signal and best coverage. They require custom fiber optic cabling and base transceivers that convert analog RF signals to digital. For a multi-carrier Active DAS, carrier approvals are needed from every provider whose signal you want to enhance in your school. Thus, deployment time is very lengthy.
On average, a Passive DAS costs between $0.50 to $1 per square foot. Active DAS, on the other hand, costs between $5 to $10 per square foot. Most school administrators go with cellular boosters to solve their signal woes.
|Passive DAS vs. Active DAS|
Visit Cell Signal Boosters vs Distributed Antenna Systems to learn more.
Wilson Amplifiers Cell Signal Booster University Case Study
The Michael A. Evans Center for Health Sciences at the Marian University is one of the safest, most eco-friendly buildings on campus. Consequently, cell coverage was nonexistent in most of the building. The threat of tornadoes had driven people to the building’s basements more than once. Other emergencies could present themselves at any moment. Having no signal was simply unacceptable for an institution that values its students' safety.
Due to budget concerns, the University couldn't invest in a large-scale solution. Wilson Amplifiers created a system design with the WilsonPro 1100 unit (now discontinued). It was within their budget and covered their desired key areas.
Installation took two days.
Once the booster was powered on, students and educators could make calls, send texts, and access the web from areas where it was impossible before. The IT director was very pleased with the results.
Each carrier’s signal increased significantly. In some cases, it was even stronger than the signal outside.
The WilsonPro 1100 has been replaced by the weBoost for Business 200 Installed.
Enhance your Schools Cell Coverage Today
Active or Passive DAS, which is the best solution for you? Wilson Amplifiers always has the answer. No matter the size, scope, and situation, our signal experts can tailor a custom solution for you.
Services we provide:
- FREE floor plan analysis with detailed heatmaps & coverage expectations.
- FREE consultation adhering to your requirements and budgets.
- Equipment selection from only the best.
- Site survey from certified wireless technicians.
- Professional turnkey installation & expert project management.
Call us (1-800-887-1961) or email us ([email protected]) today to improve cell coverage in your K-12 school, college, or university.
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