Simple Spotwave Z1900 gives cell reception a boost
Easy-to-set-up hardware can turn two signal bars into fiveFollow @infoworld
As more and more enterprise applications expand to cover handheld wireless platforms, smart phones and radio-enabled PDAs are becoming critical pieces of enterprise infrastructure. Powerful as they have become, they are at the mercy of a usable signal from a cell tower. That reliance can lead to the fascinating sight of executives wandering halls and cubicles, raising and lowering their phones while they count the number of bars in the display.
Click for larger view.
At a very important level, the Spotwave Z1900 is simplicity itself. It comprises two main components: an antenna/receiver NAU (network access unit), and a transmitter CU (coverage unit), connected by a 35-foot cable. The basic idea is this: You put the NAU in the location that gets the best cell reception and the CU in the location where most people want to use their phone.
There isn’t any management to be done, so no fancy administrative consoles or Java applications to host on a remote system. The work of putting the Z1900 in service is all up front, and the vast majority of that work is in the form of the site survey to determine the best location for the NAU.
It would be nice if Spotwave provided a tool of some kind to assist in determining the best place for the NAU. There are, however, plenty of solutions out there to help in that task. It’s tempting to think that simply putting the antenna unit in the highest possible location is the best course of action, but it’s not nearly that simple. You may find better reception at desk level in one corner of the office than near the ceiling in another corner.
I conducted my survey using a fistful of smart phones. I found that the five-bar strength meter ubiquitous to the industry provided enough detail to be useful in deciding on a location for the unit.
As an aside, allow me to urge you to exercise some creativity as you’re conducting the survey. The occasional grand jetéor plié thrown into the mix might not make the survey any more accurate, but they will entertain the dickens out of your co-workers. At least, they seemed to entertain mine.
When you’re conducting an RF survey for this purpose, keep one thing firmly in mind: The Z1900 is not an electronic alchemist, creating cell transmissions out of the pure ether. It only amplifies the signals. Thus, Spotwave recommends that you find a location with at least two bars of signal strength, which seems a good suggestion. I found that the Z1900 boosts reception well if it has even one bar to work with, though it really should be one bar that’s almost two, rather than no bars that might be one on a good day. You get the point.