Having just returned from the DAS in Action event hosted by the recently renamed HetNet Forum (formerly The DAS Forum), it was fascinating to listen to the carriers discussing Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and get their perspective on things.
I was lucky enough to catch the VP of AT&T Antenna Solutions Group revealing the carrier’s criteria for DAS deployments. This includes the size of a venue, the data demand and the share of carriers. It’s not uncommon for carriers to adopt a shared infrastructure model for in-building deployments, distributing the cost with the building owner, and DAS has always been the preferred wireless coverage option.
With 4G now becoming so pervasive across the USA, I’ve witnessed a persistently high level of operator investment in the type of technology that will enable LTE coverage indoors. Indeed, recently ABI Research revealed that the global market for in-building wireless equipment is on course to amass over $2 billion by the end of this year. I think the realization that the vast majority of mobile data usage is emanating from within buildings – from office blocks and shopping malls to airport terminals and sports stadia – has gone a long way towards prompting this increased investment. We now see a situation in which many operators are building their networks from the ‘inside out’ rather than the ‘outside in’, which represents a substantial change in mind-set from a few years ago.
Our DAS systems provide coverage and capacity solutions for in-building applications for every major wireless technology including GSM, WCDMA, and now LTE over a common fiber optic cabling infrastructure. We’ve now extended this to provide IP backhaul infrastructure for other devices needing IP backhaul support, including for example small cells or devices such as surveillance cameras which are now installed in many public venues.
Another key issue that DAS can address is the signal-to-noise ratio, which has become more acute in relation to LTE because of the higher date rates now being transmitted over-the-air. Operators want to ensure optimal data throughput for their subscribers, particularly indoors where data usage is so intense. To reduce signal degradation we aim to ensure the best signal-to-noise ratio possible in order to achieve the highest data rates, depending on any given link.
I like to think I’m speaking from experience here as we have such a strong pedigree in the in-building market, deploying coverage systems for some of the world’s most iconic buildings, including The Pentagon, The Burj Khalifa in Dubai and The Shard in London. Perhaps our crowning achievement was at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Our team worked closely with the UK’s leading mobile operators to deliver seamless mobile phone reception across the entire Olympic Park and associated venues, including the 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium. Visitors to the games received a seamless mobile experience, which contributed to the overall success of the Olympics.
We relish the challenge that 4G has given us and will continue to work with carriers to meet the demanding needs of their customers, through 4G, 5G and beyond.
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