DAF had been based in Thame, Oxfordshire for over 30 years but when their building lease expired in 2018, the company took a strategic decision to relocate to a 4.5-acre, three-story facility in nearby Haddenham.
Reliable mobile communications was a key driver to the move but, even though the purpose-built premises were right next to the base stations of two major MNOs (mobile network operators), it quickly became apparent that indoor coverage was well below par, with sales and support teams forced to go outside to make and receive calls.
Poor coverage and mobile dead spots were being caused by the building structure itself. The state-of the-art facility has been built in accordance with the latest environmental standards, so the materials used to achieve the desired sustainability targets for new buildings were having a detrimental effect on signal strength, blocking the signal completely in some parts of the building.
DAF researched the feasibility of deploying mobile signal boosters to improve the situation and began a procurement process to identify potential suppliers. Cel-Fi by Nextivity was selected as the preferred option because of its proven market reputation, network-agnostic capabilities and because Cel-Fi is the only repeater range that satisfies Ofcom’s specification concerning the use of such equipment, making it legal to use on all 3G and 4G networks.
DAF made contact with one of Cel-Fi by Nextivity’s UK distributors and placed a next-day delivery order for the Cel-Fi GO X, a plug- and play signal enhancement solution developed for industrial use. However, the total coverage area, combined with signal attenuation challenges meant that the project needed more than one Cel-Fi GO X. DAF were subsequently referred to Spry Fox Networks, one of Cel-Fi by Nextivity’s leading channel partners and experts in implementing robust mobile communications solutions for enterprise businesses in the UK.
Spry Fox Networks commissioned a team of engineers to ascertain the suitability of the existing installation and to carry out a detailed coverage survey for the different providers. The results confirmed that Cel-Fi GO X was not suitable given the scale of the project.
Spry Fox Networks submitted an attractive mobile coverage proposal that included the immediate installation of a temporary SIAB solution over a weekend, prior to the full system to facilitate uninterrupted coverage with minimal disruption to staff.
“‘It’s great, I can make calls from my desk and don’t have to leave the office to talk to customers,’ is a comment I didn’t stop hearing after the interim solution was installed,” says Jonathan Batty, IT Site Administrator, DAF Trucks UK Ltd. “The installation has also had a positive impact on our training facilities; many courses feature online Q&As and a strong 4G signal means attendees can respond without logging on to our wi-fi network, giving them more choice.”
The final installation is based on the Cel-Fi QUATRA, an active DAS hybrid designed to address the challenge of poor voice quality, dropped calls and dead zones in enterprise buildings. Coverage units have been discretely mounted above the ceiling tiles over two levels to provide full coverage for DAF’s chosen MNOs. The external antennas are located on the roof and are directly connected to the Network Units via coax cabling infrastructure. The installation also comprises QuantumPath, a newly launched mobile service assurance and comparison tool developed by Spry Fox Networks.
Prior to the installation there was zero coverage further than 2 meters from the window, but after deploying Cel-Fi QUATRA, test confirmed there was an RSCP/RSRP of between -70 and -80 dBm. The two-story installation is now providing uninterrupted 3G and 4G coverage on all three levels, including internal meeting rooms, the auditorium and a 50 000 sq. ft office space, offering maximum ROI.
• Intuitive configuration and cloud-based management
• Seamless integration into existing structured cabling infrastructure
• Lowest total cost of ownership
• Self-organising edge intelligence
• Compliant with Ofcom licence exemption
An interim solution was up and running as soon as the contract was agreed to overcome immediate coverage challenges, with the final end-toend system designed, installed and commissioned within a few weeks, providing internal staff, outreach teams and contractors uninterrupted coverage throughout the facility.
The project has been so successful that DAF are considering deploying Cel-Fi GO M, an in-vehicle system which dynamically adjusts according to fast-changing mobile signal conditions, in its fleet of marketing trucks used for national roadshows and other promotional activities.