What’s Trending in DAS

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It’s an exciting time for the Distributed Antenna System (DAS) industry, especially for those directly involved in the constant evolution of DAS systems. And not surprisingly, economic and social trends can and do influence how and when DAS systems are installed.

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This basic diagram shows how DAS is implemented. Stadium DAS architecture is much more complex.

DAS Future
Three notable and growing trends are catching the attention of the DAS industry, and include:

Trend #1: Public Safety
Due to the rise of international attacks and the increase of domestic threats, Public Safety DAS is growing at an unprecedented rate. ABI Research (https://www.abiresearch.com/) projects double-digit growth rates over the next 5 years as the industry moves from current narrowband systems to LTE-based public safety.

A few examples that strongly support the need for a Public Safety DAS include: the 9/11/2001 World Trade Center attacks, emergency situations on the US transit systems, riots outside of sports venues, and nightclub shootings. In cases similar to these, it’s critical that first responders have an uninterrupted line of communication.

A Public Safety DAS is a key component for the ICT industry because it has the unique capability of ensuring the safety of subscribers. Through the network of antennas rebroadcasting signals across dedicated public safety frequencies, this solution delivers the reliable and enhanced coverage needed by all first responders. DAS allows them to be accessible whether they are in the interior of a building, stadium, a stairwell, or within an underground transit system.

More and more jurisdictions across the US are beginning to mandate Public Safety DAS systems. Be on the lookout for more news of this in the next year.

Trend #2: Real Estate Development
While “location, location, location” may still be a key factor in the real estate decision-making process, strong cellular service plays an increasingly important role in buyers’ real estate choices these days.

Imagine touring an expensive high-rise condo unit in Manhattan. You take a photo of the breathtaking view to send to your sister on the West Coast. Only, the picture can’t be sent because you have no signal. You try to send a text, and it won’t go through. Email is slow to download. Hmmm….

Faced with losing potential sales and future income, real estate developers, architects and building owners are realizing the importance of a DAS. Coupled with the carriers no longer funding DAS systems as they have in the past, the burden of providing enhanced signal coverage to commercial and residential tenants now fall on these groups to implement and manage.

Toward this end, smart developers are often installing DAS systems at the beginning of building construction. Clearly that’s a smart move as adding DAS becomes more costly after the fact.

New construction aside, numerous existing high-rise rental buildings, including commercial spaces, are being retrofitted with DAS — both for public safety and for cellular service.

Trend #3: Customer Retention
Unexpected players are becoming interested in DAS. They include premium cable and satellite television networks that deliver in-home movies to your TV. How do these networks maintain and build their subscriber base? It’s based on the quality of movies they stream. If viewers are faced with hiccups when downloading a movie, or buffering that takes five minutes, they’ll go elsewhere.

In other words, to keep customers happy, these cable and satellite players must stay on top of the infrastructure and reliably deliver movies and other data content at high speeds. For that reason, they’re arming their technicians with the most robust cutting-edge tools and technologies, of which DAS is a part.

Then, there’s Viking stadium in Minneapolis. With an associated price tag of $1 billion, the stadium is one of the most expensive and expansive stadiums to date. With so much at stake, the stadium owners needed to ensure fans are willing to leave their big-screen TVs at home to attend the games. Toward that end, the stadium has been fitted with top-of-the-line high-tech electronic public safety and cellular DAS systems to ensure the safety of subscribers, and to deliver a memorable fan experience.

Want to take a panoramic picture of the stadium and send it to your mom in 1/8th of a second? No problem. Customer retention is all about experience. DAS ensures that, whether in your home or in the biggest stadium in the nation, your cellular experience is a good one.

DAS Cost Control Tactics
Traditionally, DAS has been thought of as an expensive solution installed in large venues, such as the system in Viking stadium. On the flip side, depending on what the end user wants, DAS is scalable and can be cost-effective. Here are 3 ways to help reduce the cost of DAS:

1. Ensure the objectives of the project match its scope
Take, for example, when I’m on a site survey with my team. It’s important to ask the client “What kind of coverage do you want for your building?” It’s a simple, yet important, question that yields significant details impacting the overall price of the DAS solution. Why does it matter? Because installing a DAS to cover a 30-story building will be more expensive compared to covering only 10 of the 30 floors. Total desired coverage area will always impact associated cost.

2. Execute the project in stages.
This a viable approach. However, all involved in the project must be cognizant that no extensive time occurs between installation phases. If too much time lapses, then compatibility between older technologies, such as 3G, may not work well with newer or upcoming technologies, such as 5G. Hence, more money will be needed to replace older equipment in addition to the cost for the new equipment required.

3. Stay within the scope of your project.
Regardless of your industry, it’s important to have a defined scope of the work agreed upon by all stakeholders prior to any work beginning. When there is a deviation from the initial scope, the project must be reviewed, and the proper next steps, as well as a revised scope, must be agreed upon by the same project stakeholders. With the added time and man hours, changing the scope of the project after work has begun will increase costs. Project transparency is a must.

It’s an exciting time to be involved with this industry. DAS is dynamic and shows no signs of slowing down in its evolution and overall infrastructure development, driven by the infinite demand to stay connected.

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About Author

Marie Quizon is the DAS Project Manager for SCE, a subsidiary of S&N Communications. Since 2010, she has worked in the telecom industry for System Integrators managing DAS design and implementation solutions for AT&T, Verizon, The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), The Fort McHenry Tunnel(s), and numerous government agencies and commercial businesses. For more information, please email mjquizon@sceeng.com or visit http://sncomm.com/.

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