DAS are the unseen and unappreciated heroes of our modern world, a world where we demand an unprecedented level of connectivity.
What is a DAS?
DAS stands for distributed antenna system. This system consists of a network of separated nodes that are connected to a common source and is usually confined to one geographic area or structure. At its heart it is designed to eliminate dead zones for mobile voice and data.
The system works by utilizing nodes that pick up signals, and repeating those signals throughout the structure or area. These compact nodes are typically placed at or below common levels of interference. The placement of these nodes is in contrast to single antenna placement. A single antenna radiates at high power, where as the DAS has many antenna that always radiates at low power, and is in many ways more reliable.
There are two versions of the distributed antenna system. When indoors the system is referred to as an iDAS and when outdoors it is an oDAS. The oDAS is put in place when terrain or zoning make using alternate technologies infeasible.
The iDAS, also known as a part of in-building wireless solutions, has become an increasingly popular method for businesses who wish to provide their clients and employees with uninterrupted voice and data regardless of where they are inside a building or on a campus. Typically a DAS can support thousands of mobile devices at once.
The benefits of an internal distributed antenna system are clear. An iDAS increases bandwidth which allows for faster mobile data speeds. The enhanced wireless coverage eliminates internal drop zones. Managers, sales people, etc. no longer need to worry about missing an important call because they had to go to a different part of the building. With an iDAS in place there is decreased reliance on traditional phone lines and internal networks no longer have to support both mobile devices and computers.
What is a DAS provider?
One of the most well known DAS systems and providers is the DAS that has been deployed by Transit Wireless to provide Wi-Fi, voice, and data service for the New York City Subway. The process began in 2016 and is being pushed into a completion date sometime in 2017.
Why is this taking so long? Because not just anyone can put this system in place, it requires someone who will design and install the distributed antenna systems. For this installation to be successful this person or persons needs to have in-depth expertise and years of experience. Providers employ these type of people. Worse yet some people believe that they can oversee the installation of a DAS themselves, but generally speaking that is a bad idea.
These people may have some knowledge of telecom, even or low-voltage, but when they attempt self install they quickly find that they are well in over their heads and drowning in a sea made of their own ignorance.
Not that an iDAS is some sort of mystical and mysterious process known by only a chosen few. It is just not as simple as pulling cable for an IT network. Implementing an iDAS is expensive and not for the novice, or even those with moderate skills. It is technically challenging. The process requires multi tasking, time management, the time to actual do it ( it is incredibly time consuming) and patience most people do not have.
In office buildings, implementing an iDAS may have to be done in small increments. That means installation could go on for years. At the very least it needs coordination, experience, and expertise. Installation needs people who know how to use the unique tools and analytics, on top of being able to test the iDAS as it goes up and problem solve based on those test.
Providers will have personnel experienced with RF engineering who are also iBwave certified (they will know the global in-building standard). This is on top of having in-depth knowledge and expertise coupled with years of experience in cable plant installation, knowledge of as many as five different types of cable, multi-directional antennas, and a multitude of alternative technologies as well as methodologies.
Furthermore providers are able to negotiate, coordinate, schedule, secure design approval and rebroadcasting rights, while getting the entire system tested and commissioned for approval. It cannot be stressed enough that a quality DAS provider has the people with the expertise and is able to effectively deal with carriers as need.
Also DAS provider will not just design and install the system, but they over see it as well. Performing the regular maintenance required to keep the DAS at peak efficiency. Most DAS providers also utilize an automated monitoring system in order to guarantee and maintain the best performance.
The Importance of a DAS
Improving the wireless capabilities of a building or campus does more than increase business productivity, it also improves public safety. When people are able to communicate with law enforcement, fire departments and other emergency service, it creates a safety net that did not exist before. More and more this safety net is being viewed as a necessity by employees, customers and whomever else makes up a building’s patrons.