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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Distributed Antenna System (DAS)?
A typical DAS provides wireless service within a very defined indoor or outdoor area. In a DAS, wireless signals are transmitted from cellular carriers’ outdoor macro networks wirelessly to DAS donor antenna or via wired-connection to carrier base station equipment. From there, a combination of fiber and coax connections convey signals through amplifiers, hubs and repeaters to strategically placed multi-band antenna and then on to mobile device users. In an indoor application, DAS overcomes radio frequency inhibiting properties of construction materials and/or reception problems resulting from the absence of, or lack of capacity on, a close by cell tower. An outdoor DAS overcomes similar issues and is an excellent option when constructing a cell tower is prohibitive due to local codes, availability of land, or when a tower is aesthetically unacceptable. Outdoor DAS systems provide the additional benefit of lower power consumption than towers. Indoor and outdoor DAS can be configured to provide service for multiple carriers without the need to install separate antennas for each carrier. DAS can also be configured to convey a variety of wireless signals including Wi-Fi. Finally, an installed DAS can increase available capacity of nearby outdoor macro networks. Indoor DAS antennas are manufactured in a variety of designs, many of which are hardly noticeable when installed. Outdoor DAS antenna can easily be placed atop light or utility poles, and are much smaller and less noticeable than large high power tower antenna units.
Why is indoor reception a problem in some areas?
Available capacity on outdoor networks surrounding indoor areas, construction material, among other things can affect cellular reception indoors. Since outdoor reception is degraded on over-crowded networks, indoor coverage can likewise be affected. In addition, building construction materials can inhibit wireless penetration indoors from outdoor networks. Thick concrete, structural and insulating metals, and reflective glass are all examples of penetration-inhibiting materials that can cause poor indoor reception.
Does a DAS expose people to anything harmful?
DAS transmit radio frequency signals. However, the level of exposure is typically less than 1% to 2% of the public safety standard established by the FCC. That standard is conservatively set at approximately 50% of the level commonly accepted by the scientific community as hazardous.
Where can I obtain more information?
www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety US Federal Communications Commission
http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/rf-faqs.html Excellent FCC FAQ listing
www.icnirp.org International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection
www.who.int/peh-emf World Health Organization
What types of wireless communications can a DAS enable?
A multiband system can transmit signals within the licensed 800 and 1900 frequency bands as well as WLAN, Wi-Fi, and public safety bandwidths. Systems can also be configured to transmit other frequencies as well such as those utilized for medical telemetry and RF id.
Can a cellular provider install a system for me?
Yes, but typically they’ll only do so provided the system carries that carrier’s signal exclusively.
Will a cellular provider install a system for me at no cost?
For a carrier to install a system at no cost, the benefits to doing so will have to outweigh the costs. Potential benefits to the carrier may include: extending goodwill to an important client, potential off-loading of or freeing-up of capacity on a crowded, close by macro network, and increased revenue per user within the structure, to name a few. Even when benefits outweigh costs, the carrier will typically be unwilling unless the system is exclusive.
Can multiple cellular carriers’ signals be distributed via one system?
Yes, absolutely. A technology agnostic, neutral host system provides the platform to accomplish this. Streamline specializes in these types of installations.
Are systems designed to carry the broadest array of frequencies designed the same as those to convey todays common cellular carrier frequencies?
No, since high and low frequencies have different propagation characteristics, an inventory of in-use and planned device and technology implementations at the beginning of the design phase will help determine the standards to which a system should be designed. These considerations along with an understanding of the facility or area’s specific physical propagation characteristics are critical design inputs and have the most significant impact on the final system.
Why are some carriers’ signals “stronger” in a particular facility than others?
Distance to a given carrier’s network, traffic or available capacity on that network, technology utilized by that carrier, and bandwidth over which that carrier broadcasts, among other things like building materials can all have an impact on indoor signal quality.
Why should I be concerned about indoor reception?
Access, or lack thereof, to communications can have consequences in times of emergency, especially in communicating with first responders. Industry sales data and media reports also indicate explosive growth in the proliferation of PDA’s, smartphones and tablets. Relative to that proliferation, the proportion of calls originating from mobile devices is also increasing as is the use of mobile devices to access data—particularly e-mail. As device utility continues to improve and innovative applications come into being, facilities with deployed DAS systems and/or business and employers who deploy them stand to benefit in numerous ways as these systems enhance the quality of experience for occupants. Facility or area-wide connectivity is quickly becoming a competitive factor (advantage) as new mobile device-oriented business models come online that capitalize on an increasingly “always connected culture.” Models focused on productivity and efficiency gains for business are rapidly emerging. Beyond “soft” improvements, mobile applications can enable additional ease and convenience-oriented revenue streams and/or efficiency-driven cost savings.