Now that we live in an age where we have basically unlimited choices when it comes to cell service provider and brand of phone, it might seem impossible that there could be such a thing as a dead zone anymore. Sadly, they do exist. Dead zones, or areas where consumers receive no cell signal whatsoever, are common in certain areas such as inside of concrete, steel, and glass restaurants.
While some carriers promise better nationwide coverage than others, dead zones do exist and are more than just an inconvenience. When unable to make or receive important phone calls, people may lose touch with loved ones, or even the ability to save a life, not to mention lost revenue if customers can’t reach the restaurant. And as the restaurant dining experience becomes more and more intertwined with photos and social media, it’s critical that customers have access to strong data connections, or else you may not just miss out on some great organic social buzz — you may find your reviews tanking as well.
So what can be done to combat it?
The Secret of the Major Carriers
It’s true that some carriers do provide coverage in areas others might not, although it’s not nearly as common as it once was. The fact is that most major carriers, such as Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, tend to share cellular towers now throughout most of the country, and smaller regional carriers tend to lease bandwidth from the four major carriers. This means just about everyone should get the same (or similar) coverage if any of those major carriers cover the area.
However, none of this helps if your restaurant is in an area where no one is receiving cell signal. There are some options available that can be of service, though.
Boosting Cell Reception in Dead Zones
Many people choose to live with dead zones as though nothing can be done about them. However, that does not have to be the case. There are many options available for restaurants to amplify cellular signal, regardless of which carrier you’re currently using. Cell phone signal amplifiers are carrier agnostic. This means it doesn’t matter if you or your restaurant patrons subscribe to one of the major national carriers, a smaller regional carrier, or a carrier largely catering to prepaid customers: everyone can receive an improvement of cellular signal, as long as their carrier’s towers are active near the dead zone you’re battling.
What’s more, cell phone signal amplifiers also do the job in reverse, taking the voice or data signals from your employees’ or restaurant visitors’ phones and boosting them to create better, faster and more well-connected signals back to the carriers’ towers. Upload times drastically improve, while call quality and full data service improves in both directions.
Below are the two main ways to amplify your cellular signal:
The most robust and infrastructure-intensive cellular connectivity solution is an active distributed antenna system (DAS). Active DAS provides carrier-grade, high-capacity infrastructure solutions for large areas.
An active DAS creates cellular signal to provide coverage. The system distributes the signal between a centralized signal source and remote nodes placed throughout a building. An active DAS system accommodates large areas where thousands of users access the network in a confined space. Think airports and arenas.
However, the drawback to an active DAS is often the cost. The location requires a complete system to boost each carrier’s signal. So, for a multi-carrier solution, restaurants can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $10 a square foot. While this expense may make sense in large spaces like sports arenas and airports, it’s far more common for smaller structures with much lower budgets to need cell signal boosting, like a restaurant or store. So, while the solution is robust and works well, it can often be far too expensive to justify.
Passive DAS eliminates cellular connectivity problems by enhancing existing cell signal up to 32 times using antennas and amplifiers. It does not require the creation of an internal network as with active DAS. It simply uses the existing outside signal for any carrier and there's really no wait-time for installation, whereas an active DAS may take one to two years to deploy.
Additionally, because of the lack of infrastructure needed to get the system up and running, a passive DAS is far more cost effective and works well in restaurants and any other areas where a cell phone signal may need to be amplified. Passive systems can be combined strategically within a structure to scale as needed, working well for all but the largest venues.
You’ve put in the hard work to make a good name for your restaurant. With the help of an amplifier, your restaurant will soon be the talk of the town.