News Feature | August 13, 2014

Signal Boosters Can Keep Mobile Workforces Connected

By Trisha Leon, contributing writer

Field Service Signal Booster

Interruptions in cellular connectivity cause delays and reduce productivity for mobile workforces, particularly in rural areas. According to a recent Field Technologies report, “Field Mobility 2014,” 72 percent of survey respondents communicating in realtime experience disruptions in wireless connectivity in the field. This is a real problem for the 29 percent of this group who say that their field crew’s ability to communicate in real-time is essential to getting the job done. Another 66 percent say that while real-time communication isn’t essential, it is important, and issues with wireless connectivity create significant downtime.

Wireless networks continue to improve, but in the meantime you can provide solutions available to address issues with cellular connectivity in the field. Milo Mell, technology support manager at LT enterprises, told Field Technologies, “When we first deployed our automated dispatch solution, we experienced a lot of challenges due to poor cellular coverage in the rural areas where our company’s trucks operate — we only had about 35 percent coverage.” This shoddy coverage made it difficult to track trucks and drivers, get important information to drivers, and receive accurate information from field workers. In order to improve communication LT Enterprises made adjustments. Mell says, “We deployed cellular signal boosters, which have improved the signal two- or threefold. We now have 80 percent coverage or better. We’ve since augmented the systems with roof-mounted antennas. Even in areas where there was no signal before, we have a data connection for those drivers.”

The use of signal boosters to extend the range of wireless signals was approved in February 2013. Beginning in March 2014, all signal boosters sold in the U.S. must meet Federal Communications Commission (FCC) specs, and all U.S. carriers have agreed to approve boosters for use that meet FCC specs. VARs can provide tech solutions — in addition to signal boosters — that protect against disruptions in connectivity in the field, thereby increasing their clients’ productivity and ability to meet customer demand.