4 Necessary Distributed Antenna System Steps Revealed

Distributed Antenna System

4 Necessary Distributed Antenna System Steps Revealed

Break Your Distributed Antenna System on Through to the Cellular Side

Not long ago, before changes to the Distributed Antenna System (DAS), I was a professed Cellular hater. Yes, I can admit it regardless of how shameful it is, it seemed as if there were not enough hours in a day for me to count the ways cellular technology was a continued disappointment. From the jitter filled calls, dropped connection, downlink, and uplink data rates that had me pining for the days of bonded T-s, I am here to tell you…no more. I have been won over by the large and relatively fast changes in the industry.

One change, in particular, was the FCC and how they dealt with the Distributed Antenna System (DAS). In a report from the FCC regarding signal boosters, they touch on how FCC 13-21 really allowed this space to expand. FCC 13-21 contains rules that allow signal boosters to be classified as “consumer” boosters, which means there is no pre-approval required by the carriers (carriers are actually on board with the solution now and see a benefit). Previously, we would have seen “active” DAS in this space in many instances. Now today we see “passive” DAS in all business verticals such as manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and more.

Passive DAS has a lower cost of entry and a faster deployment timeline, allowing more businesses to consider this solution. As noted in WilsonPro’s recent blog, The Benefit of Carrier-Agnostic Cell Signal Boosting Solutions, “The adoption of passive the distributed antenna system (passive DAS) cellular signal boosters…has become an extremely effective solution for addressing “dead zones,” and it often requires less time and financial investment to install than its active DAS counterpart.”

Four Basic Parts Involved with a Passive Distributed Antenna System Solution:

1. You first must understand that this will not be a solution implementing a dedicated fiber or copper link to your facility. All of the “backbone” connectivity will be provided by a donor antenna that collects the carrier signal.

2. Secondly, you will need a booster or amp installed to add gain to the carrier signal from the donor antenna.

3. Third, client-serving antennas will need to be distributed to the areas that require service.

4. Finally, the associated cabling between the donor antenna, booster, and client servicing antennas will need to be installed.

Just like with Wi-Fi networks, there is planning that needs to be addressed prior to purchasing and deploying a passive DAS solution. You must first start with a floor plan of the site/facility in which you are going to deploy the solution, which will help you and your solution provider make the smartest choices for the client servicing antenna models and placement. This also provides a starting point for specifying the donor antenna model you will need and your donor antenna placement. These are critical planning aspects, especially when you need to avoid oscillation between the two antenna groups.

The total amount of “gain” that needs to be added to the incoming carrier signal must be considered (keep in mind there is a limit to the amount of gain that can be added). This means you need to know what the incoming carrier signal is on the outside and inside of the building. To achieve this, some software and hardware toolsets are required (no, checking the signal bars on a cellular device won’t cut it.) The gain requirements along with the incoming signal level are also impacted by the distance of the client serving antennas from the booster and the type of cable that is used to connect the two.

Start the Distributed Antenna System Discussion

If any of the considerations, components, and planning of passive DAS are new or unfamiliar to you, it may be time to have a conversation with a solutions provider. Passive DAS can answer the connectivity question for many companies.

For a deeper dive into the wireless discussion, check out my recent blog, 802.11AC vs. 802.11AX, is Now the Time to Deploy?, where I break-down the evaluation of your last WLAN deployment.

Heath Blobaum

Manager of Wireless Engineering at Comm-Works

Heath currently serves as the Manager of Wireless Engineering for Comm-Works. He possesses experience in the technology and computer science space, and has over 10 years of experience in the information technology field. He holds his Degree in Computer Science and Networking from Hennepin Technical College in MN and in his spare time, his interests lie in biking, comedy, and spending time outdoors.