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Senior Living CommunitiesSenior Living Communities’ Need for Reliable Cellular Coverage | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors

Senior Living Communities’ Need for Reliable Cellular Coverage | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors

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In-building cellular coverage might not have been a priority for senior living communities in the past, but that’s changing. The global retirement communities market is expected to grow to approximately $317.4 billion by 2023 according to research from ResearchandMarkets.com. This reinforces that in-building coverage is indeed necessary to address the needs of today’s increasingly connected seniors, as well as to provide the care residents and their families expect.

Take the example of LifeSpire, a premier provider of senior living services and amenities in Virginia. LifeSpire had redeveloped a building at The Culpeper, one of its four continuing care retirement communities that’s located on a beautiful 100-acre campus in Virginia, but was experiencing in-building cellular coverage issues that affected residents and staff.

“Nursing staff could not use their cell phones to return calls from residents’ family members while out on the floor. The signal was so bad they had to wait until their break or after work,” says Robert E. Wilbanks, VP of Information Technology at LifeSpire. “Some residents also had no cell service in their rooms at all.”

LifeSpire turned to Virginia-based voice and networking solutions provider MABC Technology Solutions for help. According to Greg Miller, VP of Sales at MABC, The Culpeper was built into the side of a mountain and as a result, the two lower levels of the building were underground. Building materials such as low-E glass windows, along with the partial underground location, blocked cellular signals from entering the building, particularly on the two lower floors where nurses and certified nursing aids work around the clock. Resident apartments and amenities such as a gym are also located on those floors.

Cel-Fi QUATRA improves cellular reception for residents and staff

To get a better signal into The Culpeper, MABC Technology Solutions installed Cel-Fi QUATRA, an active DAS hybrid that specifically addresses the challenges of poor voice quality, dropped calls, and areas of no cellular reception in large commercial buildings. Unlike analog boosters and passive DAS systems, QUATRA delivers a cellular signal that is up to 1000x stronger, offering a much larger coverage footprint. It also uses category cabling with Power over Ethernet (PoE), so there is no need to install additional power outlets for the internal remote antennas.

LifeSpire had to improve cellular reception for AT&T and Verizon, which are the most widely-used wireless providers in The Culpeper. “Since Cel-Fi QUATRA can be used in single or multi-carrier environments, we were able to deliver just what was needed,” says Miller. “With Cel-Fi QUATRA, we were able to reduce some of the cost by coming in with only AT&T and Verizon. We also ran additional cable so the infrastructure is in place to amplify Sprint or T-Mobile if they find out later that some of the residents or staff use those carriers.”

Previously, the emergency/distress button system at The Culpeper was limited to Wi-Fi only. “The cellular boost allows the phones to run on either Wi-Fi or cellular, so our staff never miss an alert,” says Wilbanks. Residents can also use their cell phones in their apartments. The installation took less than a week and a team of two people to complete.

According to Miller, Cel-Fi QUATRA offers several important points of value. “One, it allowed us to sell only what the customer needed – AT&T and Verizon. Plus, the deployment of QUATRA was much easier than the competitive offering we had, which used coax, a much heavier cable that is much more difficult to deploy and has higher labor costs. Also, there was signal loss in the coax, where there was no signal loss with the Cel-Fi solution. We knew that we’d be able to get a better signal with QUATRA,” he explains.

Active retirement living village upgrades with Cel-Fi QUATRA

Upgrading an existing system with Cel-Fi QUATRA can also deliver a big return for senior community operators. That was the case when VAST Signal Booster Solutions, a North Carolina-based integrator with expertise in consulting, designing, and installing signal booster solutions, chose Cel-Fi QUATRA to bring reliable cellular coverage into River Landing, a local 55+ active retirement living village.

Residents and their visiting family members expected good cellular coverage in the independent-living facility which featured 56 apartments and where each floor is 25,000 square feet. But a system that was installed approximately six years ago was based on older technology and not performing as required in a four-story, standalone building on the campus.

“At the time that the previous system was installed, everything was 3G technology. The system worked well then because cell phones were different, and antennas may have been better in the phones. People weren’t really using their phones for data at that time; they were using them for making phone calls,” explains Steve Klingensmith, President of VAST Signal Booster Solutions. “As people’s needs changed, and carriers moved to voice over LTE technology, the old system just wasn’t strong enough to penetrate into all of the apartments the way it needed to for phones to be usable.”  

“By going in and installing the Cel-Fi QUATRA system, we were able to get up to 100 dB gain versus the 70 dB gain with the previous system,” says Klingensmith. “Plus, now that it’s an all-digital system, the data’s transmitting at a much higher rate, and it’s propagating further into the apartment building, as well as into individual apartments.”

It took the three-person team from VAST Signal Booster Solutions four days to complete the installation, including running the cable. The team followed health and safety protocols and wore masks and physically distanced during the installation. Now, residents and their visiting family members can get a reliable cellular signal no matter where they are in the building.

The cellular signal can even penetrate into the elevator because of where the antennas were placed, according to Klingensmith. “There are antennas outside of the elevators, so when someone’s in the elevator, they can still maintain their call if they’re going between floors,” he explains. ”Also, the building has dropped ceilings so the antennas just blend in with whatever they have in the ceilings, whether it’s Wi-Fi access points, fire alarms, or smoke detectors.”

Cel-Fi QUATRA solutions for senior living communities

The Cel-Fi product line offers the best solutions on the market for addressing the universal challenge of poor cellular coverage in the office, at home, or on the road. Integrators and carriers have partnered with Nextivity to deliver Cel-Fi QUATRA, a solution designed for middleprise buildings. For senior living and retirement communities, QUATRA offers the perfect solution for in-building coverage challenges.

Cel-Fi QUATRA is a multi-carrier active DAS hybrid that is based on the most advanced technology for improving in-building cellular coverage for 3G/4G/5G voice and data. It can simultaneously deliver a cellular signal for all carriers that is up to 1000 times stronger, using CAT 5e cabling for RF and Power over Ethernet. QUATRA can be installed in just days, and at a price point that meets the middleprise budget. QUATRA is carrier grade, carrier approved, and guaranteed network safe.

Speed of Installation, higher quality in-building cellular solutions, and cost savings are some of the reasons building owners, facility managers, and IT professionals are making the smart investment in Cel-Fi QUATRA. Learn more about Cel-Fi QUATRA at: https://www.cel-fi.com/quatra4000/

About the Author

Dean Richmond is the Senior Director of Marketing at Nextivity. Over the span of his career, he has developed strategies and launched products across the information technology and wireless product spectrum. Dean has built strategic partnerships between channel partners, operators, broadband providers, and brands such as Microsoft, Google, Intel, Sony, and Toshiba to grow business units successfully. For more information, contact hello@cel-fi.com or visit www.cel-fi-com

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