April 5, 2016 — With the pace of wireless technology from 2G to 5G and rapid fire spectrum auctions by the FCC, the only thing DAS users can count on is change. For instance, new hardware was required when carriers rolled out LTE and, with AWS-3 is currently coming on the market followed by 600 MHz, DAS systems will need more updates.
And change may be the worst thing for enterprise users of DAS, because they are cost sensitive and averse to spending time on what they see as overhead, according to John Spindler, VP of marketing, Zinwave. If a lot of upgrades need to be made to a DAS, the enterprise may opt for a voice over Wi-Fi solution or settle for macro penetration.
“When additional frequencies are deployed by the carriers, you may need an additional remote in the ceiling and extra cabling infrastructure. If your cabinets are full, you may require a second system,” he said. “The enterprise is going to say, ‘What just happened here? How much is this going to cost to support those new frequencies?’ It can be extremely painful from a budget standpoint.”
As major venues have been built out and carriers have moderated their DAS penetration, an effective enterprise-funded business model is seen as the crucial to future increases in DAS buildouts. Equipment providers are working on providing the value proposition that will break open the enterprise market.
Using distinct amplifiers to power each frequency band can end up requiring additional equipment when new spectrum is added by the carrier. The answer to future proofing, according to Spindler, is using a system that has one broadband amplifier to cover all the bands.
The City of Bellevue, Washington, recently deployed a Zinwave DAS to support both public safety and commercial cellular frequencies in its City Hall complex, which can handle additional new frequencies without hardware upgrades as carriers license new spectrum and as FirstNet comes online in the coming years.
As Public Safety Becomes Imperative, Enterprise DAS Will Follow
Offering DAS that supports both carrier and public safety channels was essential when marketing DAS to the City of Bellevue, according to Spindler, because government entities always have a budget for the public safety element. Zinwave has deployed DAS in a number of county municipal buildings with public safety coverage and cellular mixed in, as well.
Spindler sees that market trend broadening out beyond municipalities to include enterprises. Zinwave has been quite active in public safety space, universities and museums, as well as municipalities. A number of other DAS OEMs, including DALI Wireless, Cobham Wireless and SOLiD, are also marketing to the public safety side.
“We are seeing a broader trend in the market where enterprises are looking at the need for public safety capability in their in-building wireless systems. [Public safety DAS] is becoming more of a concern, moving from a nice-to-have to a must-have,” Spindler said. “The enterprises are telling us that they can’t fund in-building cellular but with public safety in-building there is no question that they will fund it. If you can bring cellular with the public safety coverage, it’s even better. Killing two birds with one stone.”
Continuing this trend, the dynamics of the DAS are going to shift further toward public safety DAS when FirstNet is rolled out across the country, he added.