May 18, 2014

Understanding Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and Small Cells

What are Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS)?

Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) is a system of managed hubs and remote antennas that distribute a wireless signal to a series of connected indoor or outdoor multi-band, multi-technology radio heads. By focusing a basestation’s signal on a specific area through remote antennas, the DAS delivers higher capacity and consistent coverage over the area it serves. They are best suited for large venues with diverse customer base (100 square feet and more) and can extend for miles and support thousands of subscribers.

What are Small Cells?

Small cells are miniature cellular basestations with limited power and range (approximately 10 meters to 2 kilometers). They complement larger macro basestations, which are the most common cell sites, to permit greater subscriber capacity and faster data speeds. The general customer performance is greatly improved with more reliable connections through using a small cell. Small cells are a growing trend that will have their greatest impact in 2014 and beyond.

Why Do I Need Them?

An effective telecommunications infrastructure is an essential component of any large building. It permits a fast exchange of information between individuals located within the building and connects them to others anywhere in the world. When a mobile subscriber is inside a building, the building’s structural materials such as concrete and steel weaken cellular signals—although coverage sometimes does penetrate the building, the signal strength is often reduced and can be nonexistent in some areas. This creates a quality of service needed, because simply providing coverage in itself is not enough—the coverage must deliver high performance in terms of capacity and consistency, not just availability.

The consumer case for DAS and small cells is straightforward. More and more of us want to use mobile phones wherever we are, even at home or at work when there’s a fixed line available. So, it’s to no surprise when a survey published in OSP Magazine stated that 54% of adults would consider switching hotels if they had poor cellular reception. In-building coverage is crucial to user acceptance of mobile services, because high proportion of cellular traffic originates from inside buildings (approximately 80 percent).

How Can DAS or Small Cells Benefit My Business?

DAS and small cells provide improved cellular coverage, capacity and applications for locations such as conference facilities, airports, hotels and large commercial office buildings. KMB was contracted by Verizon Wireless to provide A&E design services for various DAS & Small Cell installations throughout New York City including Lincoln Center, the Empire State Building, and the DAS Hotel for coverage enhancement at Yankee Stadium. DAS and small cells are being deployed to provide coverage in targeted locations, moving radios closer to the subscriber and providing additional call and data-handling capacity in areas with concentrated demands for wireless service…all of this is very important when considering customer retention and quality of service.