iBwave – Matching Smart Shoppers with Smart Networks

Intertwining multiple technologies and bands, the in-building network inside shopping malls can use a neutral-host Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and enable next generation-ready connectivity for consumers.

Since the development of suburban shopping centers in 1950’s USA, shopping malls have becomethe most popular type of retail venue worldwide.

The first malls were open-air retail centers, but very quickly a needto shelter shops and customers from the elements was recognized and the concept of the enclosed shopping center was born.

Some shopping malls have large exterior windows that provide plenty of natural light. In malls with opaque externalwalls, a glass-covered opening in the roof (“sunroof”) provides natural light.

Although some shopping malls have anattached multi-level parking structure, most have only an open-air surface parking lot next to the mall that providesno protection from the elements. Inside an enclosed mall, small retail stores are arranged around the perimeter,leaving the middle area open for pedestrian traffic.

Contemporary shopping malls offer more than just shopping opportunities. Many include individual restaurants andbars, a food court, movie theater, gym, skating rink, etc. Malls nowadays serve as anchors of social life in suburbanareas and visitors consider wireless connectivity an important aspect of their shopping mall experience.

Mall management recognizes this and therefore considers an in-building network that provides superior indoor wirelesscoverage to be of value.

The Problem

In this case study, our shopping mall is a two-story enclosed structure with concrete outer walls and glass sunroof.The mall is 200 meters long and up to 60 meters wide. It has three large anchor retail stores which also haveseparate entrances from the open air parking lot, and many small retail shops that can be accessed only from insidethe mall.

While the parking lot has good signal reception from nearby macro cells, mall management has received manycomplaints about signal coverage and quality within the mall. Mall management wants to install an indoor wirelessnetwork that will improve customer experience inside the mall.

The network must carry three major wireless service providers (WSPs) and First Responders (E911) signals. Wi-Fi installation is not required because a Wi-Fi networkhas already been installed. The management does not want antennas installed inside any shops. The antennas mustbe as small and inconspicuous as possible so as not to interfere with the aesthetic of the mall interior.

The Solution

As the system must include multiple technologies and bands, the in-building network should use a neutral-host Distributed Antenna System (DAS). Due to the proximity of antennas to customers, and to comply with ICNIRP guidelines for limiting exposure to time-varying EM fields, low-power DAS remote units should be used. In thiscontext, low transmit power means up to 24 dBm composite transmit power per amplifier.

Link to the full case study