There's nothing worse than weak or no cell phone service.
No one knows that better than Vince Dibble, manager of telecommunications and network services at MUSC. Poor quality cellular service affects not only patients and visitors across MUSC's facilities, but it also can prevent medical staff from gaining the full benefits of new wireless technologies.
To solve this problem and improve indoor wireless coverage, MUSC worked with Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility who turned to Longent based on the integrator's track record of improving in-building wireless in the health care space.
MUSC has already deployed the distributed antenna system (DAS) solution for Verizon Wireless and will soon complete the same for AT&T Mobility. Longent, an integrator of Corning MobileAccess systems, is handling the campuswide wireless deployment, which will cover 24 total floors and nearly one million square feet of indoor space.
Dibble said it's an exciting advancement. "We have a lot of folks using smartphone and iPhone technology now—faculty, patients and guests. Even better is that it was fully funded by our wireless carriers and MUSC didn't have to pay a penny," he said.
Verizon users already have the stronger service and AT&T users will see a difference in about a month, he said.
"The rapid innovation of wireless technology is of huge benefit to health care institutions, but in order to make full use of these wireless devices, the proper infrastructure must be in place," said Dibble.
"By enhancing our in-building wireless system, we have essentially created 'future-ready' wireless capabilities that enable our medical staff to better leverage mobile technologies and wireless services today, while also supporting emerging services like 4G running on tablets and smartphones. Our main goal was to improve the poor quality cellular service in several of our large buildings; not only did we solve that issue, but we also opened the door for many future possibilities, including the use of 4G LTE as a backup to our 802.11 network."
For equipment, Longent selected the MobileAccess1000 to enhance Personal Communication Services (PCS) and cellular service, including the university hospital (and the main operating rooms in the Children's Hospital), Ashley River Tower, the Basic Science Building and the Charles P. Darby Children's Research Institute.
The MobileAccess equipment offers flexible in-building wireless connectivity through a single open platform that distributes cellular services, in a wide range of radio frequencies over a common grid of antennas. For campus installations, the MobileAccess solution simplifies the process of supporting wireless services in multiple buildings, avoiding the burden of having to purchase additional equipment and radio frequency sources for each facility on campus. This combined "Wire-it-Once" market approach reduces the costs and maintenance burdens for the Information Technology staff and one network cost effectively delivers coverage without antenna farms on ceilings.
Rick Youngbar, founder and chief executive officer at Longent, said the rapid innovation of wireless technology is of huge benefit to health care institutions that have the proper infrastructure in place.
"Deploying an indoor wireless solution in a health care environment is different than an implementation for an office building or stadium, but the needs are the same—to make wireless services a more integrated component of daily operations," said Youngbar. "Combined with the growing importance of electronic medical records, determining how to better utilize wireless technologies is a serious quandary for medical institutions across the country. By enlisting Longent to design, build and deploy a wireless solution, MUSC has ensured that the staff can use the latest technology."