A Sophisticated Commercial Booster Solution for a Seemingly Impenetrable Building.
The Converse County School District wanted to ensure that members of Douglas High School in Douglas, Wyoming were safeguarded with proper means of communications. Weak or poor cellular signal service throughout the campus limited the ability to communicate in the facility, posing a potential safety issue for students, teacher and staff. In turn, the lack of cellular coverage within the building led students, faculty, and staff alike to log into the school’s Wi-Fi, bogging down the system to a point where essential school functions were exceptionally slow or inoperable. It also created possible security issues with students’ ability to access the same network as faculty and teachers.
Built in the late 1960s or early 1970s, the facility for Douglas High School was designed to withstand the harsh elements of central Wyoming. The approximately 207,000-square-foot building was constructed with 18-inch reinforced concrete exterior walls and 12-inch reinforced concrete interior walls. The lack of windows (6 to 8 total in the entire building), along with a concrete roof with a reflective covering; concrete floors and reflective metal walls; or walls with brick covering reinforced concrete, rendered cellular coverage impenetrable. When tested, numerous locations throughout the building had no available cell signal.
Converse County School District sent out a public bid to help solve the issue. Hixxa Communications, Inc., a certified Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) based in Loveland, Colorado won the bid. Hixxa used iBwave design software to engineer a multiple zone system that would help solve the issues being faced and meet the needs of the facility. Hixxa chose a DAS alternative, SureCall Force5 booster for its linear power, 72dB gain, industry-leading three-year warranty, and broad carrier coverage. The school had an aggressive timeline for Hixxa to finish the project, and the company realized the Force5 was the most reliable choice on the market for its versatility, easy implementation, and powerful features.
The Force5 was combined with SureCall’s Sentry Remote Booster Monitoring and Control System and a PepWave M2M Cellular Router, creating a truly independent network. This combination also enabled Hixxa to remotely monitor the system’s performance without accessing the school’s network, limiting the fear of unauthorized access to vital system functions and information on a private network. The Sentry also enabled Hixxa to remotely adjust settings to the Force5, so that it was constantly operating at its maximum capacity at all times, without having to send out a technician.
Upon installation of the multi-zone system, Douglas High School elected to restrict access to the school’s Wi-Fi to only school-owned devices. With far fewer devices and the sophisticated network set-up, the school Wi-Fi now smoothly operates and cellular coverage is remarkably better. Some areas, like parts of the cafeteria, which originally measured at -110dB and essentially inoperable, now came in at -62dB, providing a clear, stable connection for users. Teachers and students are now able to access educational materials, and administration can access daily operational tasks and issues.