Why cellular signal repeaters are ineffective without DAS

February 25, 2021
John Scola
Director, 5G Infrastructure

The era of 5G communications is about to break wide open on the world economy, putting untold amounts of data in the hands of businesses and consumers and unleashing a vast array of new services, some of which will require uninterrupted connectivity to perform vital functions.

The fact remains, however, that cellular coverage on which these services depend is spotty at best within most buildings. Conventional materials like steel and concrete act as RF blockers, as do newer materials like eco-friendly windows. If building owners and managers do not take steps now to improve coverage within their facilities, critical applications are likely to fail. This will negatively impact not just the user’s quality of life but will also diminish the value of owned property, whether it is used for housing, retail space, entertainment, manufacturing, or some other purpose.

77% surveyed tenants list quality of mobile network coverage key consideration

The DAS advantage

While it may be tempting to simply place a cellular repeater on top of a building or utilize Wi-Fi extenders inside, both of these approaches provide limited improvements at best, particularly as usage and data traffic increase, which they most surely will under 5G. A more compelling solution is the Distributed Antenna System (DAS), a fiber-based technology that utilizes small, low-power antenna nodes to push connectivity into dead spots without hampering performance with latency and interference issues.

Unlike a repeater or booster system, DAS does not amplify or extend an existing cellular service. Instead, it generates its own coverage, which can then be amplified to the cellular carrier’s network to provide stable, reliable service from virtually anywhere.

DAS generates its own coverage, which can then be amplified to the cellular carrier’s network to provide stable, reliable service from virtually anywhere.

DAS is also easy to install and inexpensive to operate, with many solutions costing as little as $1.50 per square foot. At the same time, it is highly scalable, enabling resources to be more easily matched to data demands. This allows for rapid and simplified installation coupled with low operating costs because the network does not need to be over-provisioned with resources that sit idle most of the time during periods of low demand.

Yet another advantage that DAS has over Wi-Fi or cellular repeaters is the ability to locate users on a far more granular level. This offers advantages when the need for emergency services arises or when location-based applications are employed, and it allows network operators to more accurately analyze where data is being consumed within the building in order to deliver high Quality of Service (QoS) and to plan for future growth.

The right managed service partner

Few building owners and managers have the expertise to effectively manage high-tech communications networks, however, which is why finding the right partner to implement a DAS solution is essential. CBTS has been at the forefront of advanced network technologies for more than two decades and can deploy experienced engineering teams to provide a detailed analysis of indoor networking needs and then devise a DAS system that generates optimal coverage at minimal costs.

Whether the solution is deployed under a traditional infrastructure model or under a DAS-as-a-Service (DASaaS) model, CBTS offers full installation and integration with carrier networks, as well as 24×7 support and operations, plus detailed reporting and analysis to ensure the system remains in peak working condition even as data demands shift over time.

As the new decade unfolds, wireless service will transition from a simple convenience to a downright necessity. Connected devices will require nearly 100 percent uptime in order to fulfill their functional mandates, but this cannot happen if dead spots remain indoors due to blocked signals.

If building owners hope to maintain financial returns on their properties, they must take steps now to ensure robust data access throughout all enclosed areas. After all, when users cannot access their data in one location, they quickly move to a place that is properly connected.

Download the infographic about the benefits of 5G-ready, in-building wireless network.

Continue reading: Why a Distributed Antenna System is the best answer to in-building wireless dead spots

Contact us for more information on how CBTS can ensure effective 5G connectivity in your facility.

Subscribe to our blog