In a relative short period of time DAS technology has become a mainstream option for increasing network capacity, but there is still no standard way to build a DAS on site. Engineers are needed to build and populate the equipment rack at the headend and to cable the system. This makes it challenging for DAS providers that are already facing compressed deadline schedules.
Although DAS is a proven solution for network capacity, innovations for simplifying the practical implementation of that solution have been slow in coming, Michael Shumate, Commscope spokesman, told DAS Bulletin. This lack of simplification has meant longer time to market, expensive engineering skill requirements and difficult optimization, testing, and maintenance.
“No two DAS’s are alike, and it is hard to find staff who have the expertise overall to make it perfect every time,” Shumate said. “Being in this space a number of years and doing a lot of installations … we are using that knowledge to build that installation intelligence into the system itself.”
CommScope upgraded its ION platform to a plug-and-play solution, embedding intelligence into the distributed antenna system to simplify deployment. The platform, known as ION-U, is scheduled to ship midsummer. ION-U simplifies the design, planning, deployment and optimization of a DAS.
“We are trying to take the art out of installation and put some standards into it,” Shumate said. “Ultimately, the goal is to let employees with a lower skill set install these systems.”
Stadiums, campuses, arenas and multi-venue entertainment complexes require a mixed use of high and low power DAS. Although a highly sectorized area for fan seating requires low power, open areas and parking lots need high-power DAS. That would take two platforms.
ION-U is designed to simplify things by combining the low-power units of the ION-B platform and the high-power units of the ION-M platform. The result is a unified indoor-outdoor, low- and high-power platform in a single master unit, which reduces space requirements and the number of cable runs while maximizing design flexibility.
“We see using a single platform as a big plus,” Shumate said. “It allows the DAS provider or carrier to go to market quicker. Sometimes DAS deployment is a multiple week process to build the headend, cable the system and set the remote power levels with test gear, even without the base station gear hooked up. Now it may take a few hours.”