12 December 2018 / in Company News
As telecommunications companies seek to support more customers using data-intensive applications such as streaming video and music services, small-cell networks are needed to provide the required coverage and capacity to meet demand. Telecommunications companies are turning to distributed antenna systems (DAS) to fulfill that demand.
A DAS is a system of remote antennas designed to deliver signals from a base station to consumers with higher efficiency. The basic idea is to split the transmitted power to several antennas providing the same coverage as a single antenna, but with less power and more reliability. The way this works is that the signal from the base station is sent out to hubs, that digitizes the signal and send it out to other hubs via a high-bandwidth, fiber-optic network.
By utilizing fiber for signal distribution, the DAS can transmit the mobile signal at full strength to any of the antennas in its network, regardless of their distance from the base station.
There are two main types of DAS, oDAS and iDAS. Outdoor distributed antenna systems (oDAS) are often used for populated areas with geographical features that make transmitting a signal from the base station to all customers inefficient or impossible. Indoor distributed antenna systems (iDAS) are often used for airports, subway stations, office buildings, and other large facilities.
DAS are also less visually intrusive on the landscape than additional base stations. DAS remote antennas can be housed on street lights, telephone poles, and other pre-existing structures.
For most uses, DAS outperforms other small-cell technologies. Picocells and microcells are inexpensive and easy to install, but they typically only support one service provider’s frequency band. Also, a picocell only supports a few dozen simultaneous connections, so it may be a viable solution for a small business or area, but its limited capacity will not suit most applications. Each picocell or microcell requires its own backhaul connection to its network, which increases the cost significantly.
DAS, by contrast, requires only one backhaul connection for the entire network. DAS can serve thousands of connections, compared to the other small-cell technologies which can only serve several dozen. Another benefit is that a DAS can aggregate up to 8 different frequencies, allowing for multiple service providers.
DIstributed antenna systems provide a way for telecommunications companies to reach more customers and provide more reliable service. While the initial investment is larger than other small-cell technologies, it provides better coverage, more options, and less operating costs down the road.