Room with a view but no bars: Developers add antennas to fix cell service in high-rises

Fiber connections built into buildings assure tenants can use their cell phones

The view from the top of 252 East 57th Street (credit: Bernstein Associates)
The view from the top of 252 East 57th Street (credit: Bernstein Associates)

So you dropped half a million on a condo on the 30th floor, but you can’t use your cell phone.

It’s a sacrifice many buyers aren’t willing to make. To guard against shoddy cell phone service in towering high-rises, developers are adding distributed antenna systems (D.A.S.) to new buildings. The systems — about the size of a smoke alarm — are installed on each floor of a building, bringing wireless service to tenants.

Among those safeguarding buildings is Worldwide Group, which is paying $1.8 million to include D.A.S. at 252 East 57th Street, the New York Times reported. The building, which topped out last week at more than 700 feet tall, has 93 units and a projected sellout of $782.9 million.

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Developers have incorporated the systems as both a necessity and a precaution. Related Companies started adding the intricate systems to their projects in 2009, with its Superior Ink condominium in the West Village. The developer also included the systems in its One Madison Park, Abington House, MiMA and 1214 5th Avenue. Macklowe Properties also included the system in 432 Park Avenue. Time Equities added D.A.S. to its 64-story 50 West Street project  as a precaution, later learning that it needed 450 antennas to bring service to its tenants.

“A strong cell reception is a prerequisite,” Michael Graves, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman, told the Times. “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.” [NYT] — Kathryn Brenzel