Fire Island, situated just off Long Island, N.Y., never had good cell phone coverage. And after Superstorm Sandy finished with the outer barrier island late in October 2012, the landline phone network didn’t look too good either.
“They had an outdated wireline network in place and the island has no room for a cell tower. After Sandy hit, the operator looked at the situation and decided there would not be a sufficient ROI from replacing the copper network,” Tyler Hanson, wireless product manager, TE Connectivity, told DAS Bulletin. “As a result, they decide to deploy a DAS network, which could help serve both the wireline network, as well as the wireless network.”
Deploying DAS solved multiple problems. The operator is able to use DAS as a backhaul to the wireline equipment. Remote units are distributed on light poles throughout the island, providing adequate cell phone coverage where there once was little. But it took some time for the island to come back from Sandy.
The 8.8-square-mile island took the brunt of the storm, which literally ripped a hole right through it, and it wasn’t until March that the Army Corps of Engineers began to clear the debris. On March 12, Kristin Thorne, reporter for WABC said, “If you look around Fire Island, it seems like Superstorm Sandy hit just yesterday.”
TE’s DAS equipment began to be deployed early in May this year, and while it’s still a work in progress in terms of full deployment, the critical areas now have communications.
“One of the challenges to deploying the DAS is space. There is no room to build additional shelters,” Hanson said. “We had to consolidate all the base stations into what space was available. With the TE equipment being digital we can go a long way from our base station hotel to each remote.”
A residential location for little more than 200 people, Fire Island is a vacation destination that pulls in crowds all summer as the home of a National Park Service seashore preserve. It is beloved because of its beaches and rustic accommodations. It has few roads, and access is mostly via boardwalks. And now, thanks to DAS, it has both wireline and wireless communications.