ClearSky’s entirely new approach to multi-operator, in-building cellular coverage

The need for high quality indoor cellular service is pervasive, be it keeping customers satisfied or employees productive. As people become ever more dependent on continuously connected mobile devices, poor indoor cellular service can be problematic to the point of being intolerable for some industries.


If your property is having trouble with cellular network performance, the odds are it will only get worse. Cisco tracks wireless data usage and growth in their annual Visual Networking Index report. The report shows that in 2015 mobile data traffic grew by 74% from the prior year, up over 4000 times from what it was just 10 years ago. Today, 80% of cellular traffic is generated indoors on networks that were originally designed to service car phones and just half this traffic can be offloaded to Wi-Fi networks. This leaves a very large and ever growing load for the cellular networks to carry.

Wireless operators are responding in multiple ways. First they continue to expand capacity on their large outdoor towers that cover multiple square miles. They have also started to add outdoor small cells that can cover areas about the size of a typical city block.

Managers of large buildings and public venues like major airports and sports stadiums usually have multiple Distributed Antenna Systems (DASs) to pick from and enjoy the full cooperation and participation of the four major wireless operators. Unfortunately this is not the case for mid-sized properties in the 50,000 to 350,000 sq. ft. range. Even after making the DAS investment, a property owner or manager is often faced with the fact that the wireless operators are unwilling to bring a radio source and participate in the project. Wireless operators are not organized in a way that allows them to work directly with mid-sized properties. As a result, even when the building manager or third party pays the entire cost of the equipment, the wireless operators may decline to participate.

The number of properties facing this wireless operator participation dilemma is huge. The Federal Government’s directory of commercial buildings lists over 4.8 million commercial buildings in the range of 15,000 to 500,000 sq. ft. In the past, this middle market has been served by repeaters, which provide a stopgap solution by directing the signal from the outdoor network into a building and distributing the signal on internal antennas. However, repeaters have significant disadvantages, not the least of which is they further load the already overloaded outdoor network leading to situations where an end user might have five bars of coverage but cannot make a call. Hence, most wireless operators are reluctant to support the widespread deployment of repeaters.

The mid-sized building market demands a cellular solution that can be deployed at the discretion of the property owner, management company or tenant and ClearSky’s FORTE® is the answer. FORTE is a combination of technology and services based on a new generation of enterprise-class small cells that can be used to power a DAS or, for smaller properties, act as a standalone system.

While enterprise small cells play an integral role in delivering in-building coverage and capacity they are just one aspect of our comprehensive solution. Before the enterprise small cell can service cellular users, the small cell devices must be installed, the system must be connected to multiple wireless operators, and configured to work seamlessly with the neighboring outdoor cellular networks. For optimum performance, the system must be continually monitored to ensure constant availability and enable smooth call handoffs from the in-building network to the outdoor network. All of this and more is included in FORTE.

With FORTE, properties can control their own wireless destiny. As the single point of contact, ClearSky provides all the services necessary to connect the small cells to the wireless operators and operate the systems as a service. This is the only small cell service of its kind in North America, representing years of development efforts between ClearSky, the small cell equipment manufacturers and the top four U.S. operators – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Explore the rest of this website to learn more about FORTE.