Distributed Antenna Systems: Challenges and Opportunities

Distributed Antenna Systems

Distributed Antenna Systems, or DAS, is a network of spatially separated antenna nodes connected to a common source via a transport medium that provides wireless service within a geographic area or structure. There are several regulatory challenges that arise out of DAS deployments. DAS is used in scenarios where alternate technologies are infeasible due to - terrain, zoning challenges for cell towers, infeasible cell tower placements, etc. Regulatory challenges arise at the federal, state, and municipal levels. Strangely, the FCC is proposing to ban cell phone signal boosters which are essentially consumers' versions of DAS.

It’s a new, evolving world for carriers, DAS providers (NextG & ExteNet), and jurisdictions when it comes to building ubiquitous, voice and data-rich networks for customers. Communities and their local officials are greatly improving their knowledge about DAS sites and taking a proactive approach to fixing coverage when often new cell phone towers are not the answer. Ordinances are starting to be proposed and written – how do carriers and DAS providers, as stakeholders, influence these codes? How do carriers and DAS providers work collaboratively – a unified force rather than dividing one another before the community. What behaviors do DAS providers need to exhibit as DAS moves into communities in order to not give a black eye to this segment of the wireless industry? How do we influence codes so that they don’t obstruct carriers from building towers along with DAS sites? Rights of way are likely opportunities as revenue sources for jurisdictions – how do carriers and DAS providers maximize their use while keeping time to market reasonable? How are the rights of way managed with respect to using existing infrastructure and supporting the need to use utility poles and street lights for 4G sites?

There are many examples of what happens as communities reach out to DAS providers in areas where carriers have trouble improving their networks using traditional means. DeadCellZones.com aims to help bring together utility, municipal planners, carriers, and DAS vendors.

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