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The New York Times ran a really informative article last week about Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS). It explained how a system works and why they’re needed.
“It turns out that the thick concrete walls, reinforced steel floors and specially coated low-emissions windowpanes used in many new high-rises can weaken, if not block out, wireless signals.
And units perched in the clouds, at the level of or above cell tower antennas, may be in the path of competing wireless signals, causing interference.
To correct this issue, developers are installing elaborate in-house wireless networks to boost coverage within projects ranging from new rental towers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to condominium conversions in the 1913 Woolworth Building in Manhattan. Called distributed antenna systems, or D.A.S. for short, these use a fiber connection to bring wireless service from the various network providers directly into buildings.
Discrete antennas, each hidden inside a bowl-shape cover about the size of a smoke alarm, are then placed in strategic locations on each floor, distributing the signal throughout the building to eliminate dropped calls, enable faster downloads and ensure consistent coverage.”
The article mentions how DAS has long been common in office blocks and large buildings like hospitals and stadiums, and is now considered vital in the planning of new high-rise apartments.
“[T]he Marketing Directors, a development, leasing and marketing company, has begun recommending the technology as a standard component of new high-rises. “The conversation used to be along the lines of, ‘Listen, you might be able to increase values by doing this,’ ” said Angela Ferrara, the executive vice president of sales and leasing for the firm. “Now, it’s ‘You need to do this in order to be competitive.’ ”
DAS can be retrofitted into existing buildings, but the article also explains how increasingly space and pathways for networks are being included in new building designs.
“Even though Time Equities would not know until it went up if 50 West was going to require an in-house wireless network, pathways for one were included in the design, including space for mechanical equipment and risers on each floor to house cables. Once the building was topped out, a technology consultant surveyed every floor and determined that yes, it should have seven antennas per floor, or about 450 total.”
It’s great to see DAS in the news and people recognising how important it is to have good coverage at home as well as at work!
This is a really great example of the strengths of DAS. Of course, there are downsides too, that the article doesn’t mention. DAS is very expensive, requires long lead times, and needs the cooperation of all the networks you wish to cover. That means that they are only cost effective for certain large building situations like the high-end apartment complexes described in the article.
Fortunately, cellular repeater technology is improving, allowing it to start covering some of the areas DAS misses out on. Here at RepeaterStore we have installed repeater systems in 300k sq ft for a fraction of the cost of a DAS system.
Whether a customer needs a repeater system or a DAS, our team of signal experts has helped hundreds of companies improve signal in buildings, from 3,000 sq ft all the way up to up to 500,000 sq. ft. We've designed and installed systems in shopping malls, apartment complexes, hospitals, power plants, and large warehouses, all the way down to small offices and retail stores. We are happy to do custom designs and quotes for any situation.