Why indoor cell coverage is a lot like Festivus

Sept. 1, 2016
While reviewing the article in this issue authored by Karl Griffith ("Improving wireless coverage in smaller buildings," page 9), the state of in-building cellular coverage kept reminding me of Festivus, the holiday that Seinfeld made famous.

While reviewing the article in this issue authored by Karl Griffith ("Improving wireless coverage in smaller buildings"), the state of in-building cellular coverage kept reminding me of Festivus, the holiday that Seinfeld made famous.

If you're not familiar, Festivus is a fictional observance held in late December as something of a protest against the commercialization of Christmas. As such, it was referred to as "A Festivus for the rest of us." The sitcom Seinfeld's popularity put Festivus on the cultural map, where it remains for many.

I couldn't shake the parallels between Festivus and in-building cellular wireless connectivity. If you haven't read Griffith's article, please do, then return to this page and decide if you, too, notice similarities. Here's what I see.

Airing of grievances. Frank Costanza told his guests, "I got a lot of problems with you people. Now, you're gonna hear about them." In many commercial office buildings, you don't have to go too far or listen too long before hearing someone complain about the lack of a wireless-carrier signal. Or see someone run to a window or door so they don't drop their call. And I, as a mobile-phone user, "got a lot of problems" with this reality.

The Festivus pole. The undecorated pole stands solemnly in a corner, in keeping with the holiday's no-frills theme. As Griffith points out, a primary component in a cell phone signal booster system is an outdoor omnidirectional antenna. Google "Festivus pole," then Google "outdoor omnidirectional antenna." Look at the images that come up. You tell me.

Feats of strength. The feats of strength ceremony ends when the head of the host household is pinned by a guest. Installing a consumer signal booster system requires not so much strength, but certainly well-pinned-down and skilled installation capability. Plus, "A handheld RF signal strength meter is used to measure ... PCS/cellular frequency signal strength." Coincidence?

For the rest of us. Like Christmas, active DAS networks get a lot of publicity (including, full disclosure, in this magazine). But as Griffith points out, these systems often do not easily scale downward to meet the needs of the many smaller commercial office buildings in the U.S. The signal-booster systems he describes are, literally, for the rest of us who office in smaller spaces.

So what do you think? Is it me, or are the parallels really there?

Patrick McLaughlin
Chief Editor
[email protected]

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