A 95% increase in cellular coverage for shoppers in a top-tier Rio de Janeiro mall
The beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro is home to many attractions and popular destinations. In the affluent southern side of the city, the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and Leblon Beach draw tourists and locals alike.
Shopping Leblon is nestled perfectly between these two local landmarks on Avenida Afrânio de Melo Franco in a lively neighborhood comprised of bars, restaurants, hotels, and many commercial buildings.
Despite its coveted location and popularity, Shopping Leblon’s customers originally couldn’t access reliable cellular coverage inside the shopping center. Many of its more than 700,000 visitors a month were unable to communicate in restaurants, theaters, stores, parking garages, and other areas within the complex.
QMC Telecom improved cellular connectivity for Shopping Leblon with a customized Active Multi-operator Distributed Antenna System (DAS) solution that increased cellular performance for tenants and mall patrons alike. QMC was also responsible for the interconnection project at Office Shopping Leblon, the area of corporate offices attached to the complex. The entire project took three months, from initial system implementation to final pre-launch adjustments.
Opened in 2006, Shopping Leblon has a total area coverage of 1,009,966 sq ft, four floors, 1,131 parking spaces, 193 stores, four movie theaters, a 926-seat theater, a food court, and a dining space overlooking two trademarks of the city: the Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer. The center is managed by Aliansce Sonae Shopping Centers S.A – the largest shopping center manager in Brazil, with a portfolio of over 40 shopping centers.
663,024 sq ft (Shopping Center), plus 201,371 sq ft (Office)
Shopping Center (198) and Office (39)
Shopping Center (7 Master Units + 13 Remote Units) and Office (2 Master Units + 4 Remote Units)
Step one: Mapping the Area
Before construction began, the QMC team pre-analyzed the existing cellular signal, reviewing a collection of approximately 200 4G signal samples on each floor of the shopping center. They gathered data at specific points throughout the complex using a specialized collection device similar to the one used at the São Paulo Expo. After collecting this data, the QMC team processed their new “logs” and carefully plotted each signal collection point.
The results showed that all samples had poor signal quality, around -150 dBm to -100 dBm. (dBm indicates the power for which the mobile device sees the network and this range is insufficient for high-quality services). The ideal range is between -85 dBm and -95 dBm. The old performance left store owners, employees, and consumers to struggle with a weak average network strength.
Step two: Project Implementation
With a large influx of people in the shopping center throughout the day, QMC’s solution was an indoor Distributed Antenna System, also known as Active DAS. Active DAS consists of remote amplifiers connected to the network of mobile operators through fiber optic cables near the transmission antennas. It produces stronger, higher quality signals than alternative solutions and is designed to adapt to 5G, the next generation of mobile internet networks.
Shopping Leblon’s large-scale implementation was only possible because QMC used a C Solutions system applied to DAS. The system is a centralized solution that optimizes the operator’s infrastructure, extending the connection network without compromising the DAS.
Due to the shopping center’s high demand and extended hours of operation, QMC implemented the DAS project using limited work hours and a non-traditional implementation schedule. Maintenance and renovations often took place in the early morning to maintain progress without disrupting daily operations.
Leblon’s large, complex layout also required the QMC team to consider architecture and space harmonization. For example, they had to consciously avoid inserting antennas in places that could be confused with the ceiling. QMC worked alongside Leblon’s administrative staff to map these areas ahead of time to ensure they preserved the shopping center’s existing structure and design.
Results: An increase of more than 95% in connectivity
Before the Active DAS implementation, there was practically no cellular signal service at various points throughout the shopping center. After the insertion of the antennas, Shopping Leblon saw a 95% increase in connectivity across the complex, which means more connected consumers and store owners with faster internet access and calls.
The QMC team closely monitors the entire Shopping Leblon project using the Network Operation Center (NOC) to ensure that the infrastructure always operates at the best possible quality and capacity through reports and dashboards, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Shopping Leblon and other QMC customers can also use the NOC to notify QMC of any concerns and monitor resolution.
“From a technical point of view, service delivery is superb, and connectivity levels are even better. Overall, it’s marketing gold. We no longer have complaints from customers related to connectivity or navigational instability while visiting the shopping center. In this respect, I would recommend QMC to other companies.”
— Adriana Souza, Marketing Manager of Shopping Leblon