Anritsu recently announced the availability of the MA8100A Series TRX NEON Signal Mapper, an in-building RF-coverage mapping solution developed in partnership with TRX Systems that is designed to significantly reduce the time and effort needed to map RF coverage in areas where GPS signals are unavailable or unreliable.

With the increased reliance on wireless devices in both the consumer and critical-communications sectors, providing indoor coverage via DAS systems and small-cell solutions is crucial to building owners and occupants. But the traditional method of mapping indoor coverage is both tedious and time-consuming, according to Wayne Wong, product manager for Anritsu.

“Currently, you would have an application, and you would click on it to say, ‘I’m here,’ and then walk a few meters and say ‘I’m here,’ and then the data gets collected and extrapolated, based on where you point,” Wong said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “They mark where they are and measure the signal power level, which takes quite awhile.”

Anritsu addressed this problem by partnering with TRX Systems, which has developed an three-dimensional (3D) indoor tracking technology that is used to provide the location of personnel—firefighters are a notable example—when they are outside of the range of a GPS signal. By linking the TRX Systems NEON technology with Anritsu’s RF measurement devices, indoor coverage data for all locations in a building can be measured automatically by someone walking in the structure with very little manual input beyond an initial calibration, Wong said.

“With this technology, you just wear this small [TRX systems] device on your hip, you put your [Anritsu] measurement instrument in a backpack or on a cart and just walk normally,” Wong said. “Then, the instrument will collect all of the RF data while this sensor collects all of the location information. Then it merges the two data sets together.

“There is a separate piece of software that runs on a laptop or a personal computer that then brings all of this information together and does visualization. So, you could have a 3D map of the building with all of its measurements by simply wearing this device on your hip and walking around with your data-collection device.”

When compared with the traditional stop-and-start method of conducting RF coverage mapping indoors, the time savings are significant, according to Wong.

“We demoed this with a customer that did [RF coverage mapping] for one of the federal archive buildings, and it took him two weeks to map that building,” Wong said. “With this, he said he probably could have done it in two or three days, instead of two weeks.”