DAS – Distributed Antenna Systems

DAS – Distributed Antenna Systems



Distributed Antenna System (DAS)

Digitechx is a leading provider of DAS systems to the enterprise market. Now more than ever, the enterprise markets rely on our data hungry applications and connectivity. Hospitals, hotels, commercial buildings, stadiums, college campuses and retail shopping malls alike, all need cellular coverage to handle their occupants’ data and voice needs. A Digitechx designed DAS network can mitigate these needs. Our solutions range from I DAS ( Indoor DAS)  to O Das ( Outdoor DAS) to a  combination of Indoor / Outdoor DAS. We have unified solutions, to reduce your entire wireless and low voltage budgets, and maximize your footprint with low overhead solutions.

In Building DAS

It is estimated that 80% of wireless traffic originates or terminates within a building. Despite this, only two percent of commercial buildings have dedicated technology to ensure strong and reliable mobile coverage indoors. With data hungry consumers, this poses a substantial problem, as macro cellular networks are not designed to propagate within most buildings. In Building systems are an essential but mostly overlooked technology that most property owners need to address. Now more than ever, high rise buildings, hotels, campuses, stadiums, malls and crowded public spaces need to consider a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) or an Indoor Small Cell technology.

Historically, a property would have to deploy multiple systems including Wifi, DAS, and public safety. With a Digitechx turn-key solution, building owners can deploy unified system to handle all our client’s needs, while reducing capex and overhead. Our systems also reduce head end requirements and space constraints.

Outdoor DAS

Outdoor distributed antenna system solutions enable operators to offer coverage and support capacity requirements in dense areas such as stadiums, malls, campuses and event driven venues. These systems are  hi power and hi capacity driven systems, and require flexible platforms to accommodate heavy traffic spikes and extreme capacity issues.

An example of outdoor DAS may be a municipality, that distributes antennae throughout their property or city, and connects to the base station controller, usually with fiber. An outdoor application might consist stealth lamp post strategically located throughout the city to prevent unsightly cell towers, and connect to a single or a cluster of Base Stations to reduce cost and footprint of the head end. Another application may be a stadium that needs to not only improved coverage, but also capacity because of large spikes in traffic during events.

Neutral host systems

A neutral host system is a solution installed by the property owner with access made available to multiple carriers. This type of a system consists of a series of antennas distributed throughout the structure which are all connected to the head end equipment by cable or fiber. The head end equipment distributes the signal out to the antennae, and the antennae broadcast the signal to the cellular device. Carriers will bring their signal to the head end equipment and connect to the system and backhaul to their central office by means of fiber, microwave or by relay to a cell tower.

A neutral host system is generally financed by the building owner or management and space is leased to the carriers. Some of the carriers are willing to pay a small monthly rent to connect to the DAS system if critical mass exists. Although this model has waned for the enterprise-class, some carriers are still willing to pay to play in certain hospitality and hospital markets. Carriers will join the DAS in most cases with BTS only agreements, where they agree to bring in the equipment to connect at their expense, but not pay a monthly lease.

Carrier Funded DAS

Carrier funded DAS models exist where a carrier funds the purchase and installation of the equipment and owns the DAS. They may choose to lease capacity on the system to other carriers to defray some of the costs. These projects are generally large capacity sites such as stadiums, college campuses, large malls, and metropolitan centers.

Enterprise Market

The enterprise market has historically subscribed to the theory that cellular coverage on their property is the burden of the cellular carriers, and not their responsibility. This, however, is not the case anymore. Today’s consumer of voice and data demand constant connectivity and they rely on mobile devices for productivity. As 80% of cellular traffic is either originated or terminated within a structure, this is a proclivity that building owners can no longer ignore. In the hospitality industry for example, guests may not rebook if the cellular coverage is bad.

According to the Hotel Business Review, “Ubiquitous cellphone reception does more for hotel owners and operators that make guests happy: it meets the new standard of access to technology that helps retain them. A few years ago, at the dawn of the smartphone age, a landmark survey found that 54 percent of affluent adults aged 35-54 might not re-book at a hotel where cell phone reception was poor.”

No longer can hotel owners and management companies ignore the fact that their properties poor coverage, and must shoulder the burden to stay competitive. Hotel properties try to mitigate this phenomenon with WIFI systems. This still falls short of the consumer demand for voice and customers are irritated by the fact that they must pay to get bandwidth comparable to a cellular plan. Furthermore, more than 70% of handsets cannot make a voice call over wifi. The irony of this is a well-planned triple play product such as CommScope’s Ion E,  which can incorporate a DAS system, wifi and cc tv all in one unit for the cost of a traditional WIFI system.

Signal Source

There are 4 ways to get a signal source. eNode B, Small Cell, Femto Cell, and fiber backhaul. One of the greatest misnomers in the industry is that an enterprise client can use a donor antenna and repeat the cellular carrier’s signal, without their expressed written consent. Although these solutions are rather inexpensive, compared to a full-blown DAS system, they require a strong signal, capacity on the targeted Macro site and the carriers must consent. In most cases, the carriers are reluctant to consent to directing traffic to an already planned capacity of a macro site which is usually part of a cluster with careful attention to load balancing. A fiber backhaul solution is usually the desired path for the carriers to bring signal to a neutral host DAS system. This is, however, costlier and a site must qualify in their eyes and represent critical mass for them to allocate budget to each project.

Carrier Negotiations – Site Acquisition

DAS is not a “build it and they come” model, although equipment manufacturers and random integrators would like you to believe that. A project may be too small or not fit with the metrics of a carrier. The process with most of the national cellular carriers is referred to as site acquisition. This is a very comprehensive process and is not without peril. It is important to have the proper representation during this phase or it could be an unmitigated disaster for the property owner.

Each carrier has their own bureaucracy; however, the process is very similar in form. A carrier will first express interest in the project. They determine the market, size of the project, exposure to end users, local capacity on their towers or cluster, and market share. If they are interested in moving forward, the handoff to the RF department and consider what the best way to bring signal, approve budgets and complete the design process. The final step is executing a lease or BTS only agreement with the property owner to connect to the Neutral Host System. After all the administration is complete, the carrier will generally hire a contractor to integrate the system.

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