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City-wide indoor signal coverage testing considerations

In order to create a municipal wireless network that enables full public access to the Internet, the network must offer signal coverage inside businesses and homes. At some point, the system integrator will need to verify that sufficient signal coverage exists in the percentage (for example, 70 percent) of inside locations as stated in the RFP and contract. This type of testing is easier said than done.

A major problem is that the majority of indoor areas are not open to the public. As a result, a system integrator completing system testing or the municipality performing acceptance testing doesn’t have ready access to indoor places. Understandably, businesses and homeowners are usually reluctant to let strangers inside their private establishments. Thus, it may be possible to only test a very small number of indoor areas, those that are accessible to the public, such as restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

A municipality may be able to boost the number of indoor test locations, though, by soliciting volunteers that allow test teams to enter their private businesses and homes. For example, a municipality may setup a system that automatically calls utility customers, explains the need to perform the testing, and asks the customer to participate in the testing (possibly by having the customer press a specific numbered key on their phone). The municipality could then provide the volunteer list to the test team, which would greatly expand the umber of indoor test locations. This also gets the community involved in the deployment in a positive way, which based on my experiences is always a good thing.

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