“If I can’t text, I’m moving” is the title of a New York Times article that looks at the growing issue of cell phone reception in supertall towers. Of course, the main problem arises in sky-high units that are above cell tower antennas or are in the path of other signals, but new construction methods are also getting in the way. Thick concrete walls, reinforced steel floors, and low-emission windows all can weaken, if not altogether block, wireless signals. “To correct this issue, developers are installing elaborate in-house wireless networks to boost coverage within projects ranging from new rental towers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to condominium conversions in the 1913 Woolworth Building in Manhattan,” the paper explains.
Known as distributed antenna systems (D.A.S.), these fiber-connected fixes are only about the size of a smoke alarm and get installed on each floor to distribute the signal throughout the building. At the 65-story condo tower 252 East 57th Street, developer World Wide Group is investing $1.8 million in an antenna system (such systems usually range from $1 to $3 per square foot). Here, there will be roughly 470 antennas and more than 20,000 linear feet of coaxical cable. Axispoint Technology Solutions Group, a designer and installer of the systems, has been hired for 14 projects in residential and commercial projects over the past year, twice what they did the previous year. Two clients include the Modern in Fort Lee, NJ and 432 Park, the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere. The Related Companies was an early adopter of the technology, starting in 2009 with their Superior Ink condo, and since installing the systems in MiMA, Abington House, One Madison, and 1214 Fifth Avenue.
Michael Graves, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman, said that “a strong cell reception is a prerequisite” for buyers, noting that more and more clients check the bars on their phones at showings. “If you’re living in Manhattan you shouldn’t be getting the cell reception that you would in the woods, especially when you’re buying a multimillion dollar apartment.”
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