Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2017

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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66 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | MAY/JUNE 2017 TECHNOLOGY In-Building Wireless Systems Rapidly growing demand for cellular data inside large buildings makes distributed antenna systems increasingly necessary. Fortunately, technology advances have made such systems more affordable than they once were. By Eric Fichtner / Symphony Technology Solutions Inc. S ome people are surprised to learn that distributed antenna systems (DAS) have been deployed in commercial buildings for almost 20 years. Early systems were designed for airports, stadiums, convention centers and other places where large crowds gathered, but DAS is needed today in a variety of smaller spaces. A number of large neutral host companies, such as American Tower, Crown Castle, Boingo and Extenet, have built profitable business models on deploying DAS. ese companies, which serve as liaisons between venue owners and wireless service providers (WSPs), attempt to generate as much participation on each DAS as possible. But because the priorities of the WSPs are as different as are their budgets across vertical markets, many neutral host and carrier-owned DAS have less than full participation from the four major cellular carriers. In today's bring-your-own-device world, perhaps the first question for a property owner in implementing any in-building cellular enhancement system – whether DAS or simple booster technology – is this: Does it offer access to all the major players? Formerly, in corporate environments, a carrier obtained a contract to provide cell phone service to all users and agreed to implement a one-carrier DAS in return. Today's consumer, whether an employee, a resident or a guest, wants choice. is sharp turnabout is occurring in all market verticals but perhaps most vigorously in buildings that house numerous non-employees. ese buildings include hotels, apartments and condos, higher education campuses and, perhaps surprisingly, medical centers. IS IN-BUILDING CELLULAR ENHANCEMENT NEEDED? Do you, as a building owner, gain enough competitive, and therefore revenue, advantage to justify the cost of a DAS or booster? To answer that question, consider interference, capacity and demand. First, building construction technologies increasingly create radio frequency (RF) interference that limits the signal strength within a building. Triple-pane, low-emissivity glass, for example, has a 40 dB impact on RF signal strength. at means the signal inside the building is only 1/10,000 as strong as the signal outside the building. Honestly. Building iron, hurricane shutters, other buildings, even furnishings can significantly impact the signal strength within a building, creating dead zones or even an entirely "dark" building. With or without triple-pane glass, there is routinely a 30–50 dB drop in signal strength, making a fine cell experience outside the building excruciating inside. e second factor in considering whether to supplement the macro network with an in-building wireless system involves capacity. Even if guests can walk through a high-rise hotel at 5 a.m. and obtain excellent cell signals everywhere, they may well encounter the

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