October 29, 2019

Distributed antenna systems, also referred to as DAS, are often used in large or complex venues and buildings to improve existing cellular coverage. When implemented correctly, they have the ability to connect people at the top of a skyscraper to the security guards in the basement, and even individuals in a parking garage.

If you’re tired of hearing complaints from tenants and visitors about dropped calls or connections at pivotal moments, it might be time to see how a DAS can improve the connectivity throughout your property for a smaller investment than you may think.

How Distributed Antenna Systems Work

You can think of DAS as a way to get more from your current wireless signal. You already have some degree of connectivity in your building, even when the signal is at its weakest. DAS amplifies that signal where it needs it the most. 

The system gets its signal directly from your service carrier and can be used with multiple carriers by using multiple antennas in the exact areas that need extra attention. The system is usually designed from the bottom-up, meaning the carrier feed is installed at the foundation of the building and acts as a mini-tower for all mobile devices.

A DAS solution is designed for the individual property. Installers take into account every aspect of the structure and grounds, even the materials of the wall, the type of ceiling, and the size of the rooms. They’ll test and document the weakest areas throughout your property with the help of a signal meter, to inform the overall solution design.

How Do Installers Configure the System?

There is not a standard set-up for distributed antennas systems because no two buildings are the same. Even those with the same architecture and square footage will have unique surroundings and limitations. DAS installation takes into account both client feedback and site surveys to gauge where to position the equipment. 

Clients may be asked about the usage in their buildings and where the most data is being used at any given point in the day. Installers may want to know if a particular cellular provider is more likely to fail on the property or if the dead zones apply to all carriers. This assessment is designed to catch any and all connectivity issues, so they can be fixed with strategically placed antennas. Installers are there to optimize each location for signal quality and data rates. 

The DAS installers will designate the appropriate connectivity feed for your building before testing the network. The cables and the hardware are configured exactly as the original design intended unless the initial testing reveals a potential hiccup. Everything is then connected together to enable the system launch.

How Does the Signal Spread?

Distributed antenna systems do not create a signal, they simply amplify the original carrier sources throughout the property through strategic antenna placement. Elements of a DAS can include a main antenna on the roof, a Base Transceiver Station (BTS), or portable nodes called small cells. DAS can use fiber optics, digital, or passive mechanisms to then deliver the signal to the rest of the building.  

This is where things get a little complicated. Your signal source and DAS solution will depend on your property’s location and data demands. For example, experts will typically recommend an off-air signal if you have a relatively strong donor signal and local tower. With this system, you can use an antenna on the roof to carry signals from a cell carrier. However, this option doesn’t add capacity to the building, and it will fail if the tower demand changes. 

When configuring distributed antenna systems, it’s important to consider not just your budget and usage demands of today. A DAS network can be installed to support 5G when it makes its widespread debut. This long-heralded technology is poised to replace traditional coverage, and property owners would be wise to prepare now.

Smart city and telecommunication concept symbolizing DAS in-building wireless solutions.

Who Needs Distributed Antenna Systems?

DAS is usually employed when an area is too large to handle the data demands of the people on the property. Bandwidth can be quickly depleted when thousands of people are all trying to use their electronic devices at the same time. But you don’t necessarily need to be the owner of a massive venue to need a DAS. If your building has any tenants with complex network demands, those needs can quickly destabilize the local equipment in your area. 

DAS can also be used when physical barriers cannot be overcome. Hospitals with fortified construction (e.g., concrete walls or metal envelopes) or skyscrapers that lose signal at high altitudes will use DAS to ensure people can keep in touch. Even materials like energy-efficient glass can block a signal. Because these elements may be necessary to obtain a LEED certification, DAS may be the only way to ensure connectivity. 

Choosing the Right DAS Partner

Distributed antenna systems provide you with the capacity that users need to continue enjoying their devices no matter where they are. Additionally, a properly designed and installed distributed antenna system aides in keeping tenants and guests connected during times of emergency.

If you’re interested in learning more about how a DAS can be configured, installed, deployed, and managed on your property, Connectivity Wireless has the optimal solution for you. We have a number of options available to clients, including turnkey solutions to aid in the installation of distributed antenna systems – for a lot less money than you might think!

We can design a system for your property that scales with new technology and ever-growing data demands. As a lifelong technology partner, we will work with you to ensure sufficient and dependable coverage for your property today and in the future, through the adoption of new technologies and even building expansions. Connectivity Wireless is here to streamline the process for you.

Contact our team of experts today to learn more about our in-building wireless solutions and how we can help your property get and stay connected.