October 22, 2015 — When Pope Francis celebrated mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philadelphia late in September, there were a million people sharing the experience with their smart phones. Connectivity for the historic visit also benefited from sharing of the technological type.
The Pope’s visit to the City of Brotherly Love prompted a third party DAS provider to deploy CommScope’s FlexWave Prism DAS on 37 poles with 63 headend units, which allowed multiple carriers to share the infrastructure using 850 MHz, 1900 MHz, AWS and 700 MHz frequencies to deliver 3G and 4G mobile services.
But there was even more sharing going on. CommScope’s CDIU (CPRI Digital Interface Unit) allowed two operators to share one card, making the deployment of the DAS head-end more compact and cost effective.
“The CDIU eliminates RF interface equipment in the head-end, delivering as much as 80 percent savings in unneeded equipment, floor space and operating costs, including real estate and energy,” said Mark Kerschner, senior product manager, outdoor wireless products, CommScope. “That eliminated the need to find space, power and air conditioning for upwards to 280 remote radio heads for the two carriers.”
In addition to cost savings, capacity was a major driver in the design of the system. “Instead of taking out a sector of macro tower and feeding it multiple radio heads, covering a large geographical area, we saw the carriers doing one base band unit to one remote, taking one sector’s capacity and dropping it into a single remote radio head and made a small, very dense coverage area,” Kerschner said. “That was a huge play to get capacity out there.”
CDIU establishes a direct digital connection between Alcatel-Lucent base stations and the DAS host unit, eliminating remote radio heads, RF conversions and attenuation panels in the DAS head-end. It has also been deployed at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York; Mizzou Arena at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri; Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati; and Washington State University’s Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington.
While spurred by the Pope’s visit, the DAS deployment is a permanent amenity on Ben Franklin Parkway, which is home to concerts and many other events. This infrastructure investment will benefit festival attendees and residents for years to come.