A leading health insurance company in the midwest United States was in the process of building a new headquarters. The building included 10 stories for offices, conference rooms, cafeteria, and a separate one-story structure for its data center. 

During the initial structured-cabling design stage, the idea of an in-building wireless system was brought up. After the company received a rough budgetary quote, which included the capability of retransmitting three mainstream carriers, as well as public safety, they had decided against the idea because there was no capital available. 

A compromise was reached to install the HELIAX® cable (0.5-inch coaxial RF cable) and antennae in each floor, which will provide an in-building wireless coverage in every location of the building. The goal was to provide the infrastructure for a future Distributed Antenna System (DAS) system with at least 80dBm coverage blanket throughout the building. 

The building’s exterior included windows that were constructed with low E glass coating—designed to reflect or absorb infrared light (heat energy). However, they also reflect radio waves, resulting in very poor cell coverage.  

The company had no choice and immediately decided to install a complete DAS system. The installation was quick, and with much lower cost than starting from scratch, since the cabling infrastructure and interior antennae ware already in place. 

Before you go ahead and start building, you must review all technological advancements available. Any organization that plans on constructing a new headquarters (even a new office building) should consider installing DAS. If they are not ready for a whole DAS system, they should consider a minimum project that wires the building with the cables and indoor antennae for future DAS installation. 

You don’t want to be standing in your building without wireless coverage and saying to yourself, “I should have installed this when I had the chance.” 

About the Author

Ilan Shakked

Ilan Shakked is a technical manager providing infrastructure design and engineering support for CommScope’s North Central sales region. Ilan has over 20 years experience in the telecommunications industry. Prior to joining CommScope, he held various engineering positions with DataCom, HellermannTyton and ADC. Ilan holds a bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

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Comments

2 comments for "Should I Wire My New HQ For A Future DAS Capability?"
Ken Sandfeld

That's really tough answer. A DAS sales person will always answers yes of course you should add wiring and you should do it my way (what ever brand system they sell). The answer is not always that easy any more. The reason is there are no standards for DAS cabling designs or even equipment for that matter. So you almost have to pick a product first and buy a design to make the step of pre-wiring your building. 1) The -80db you specified will most likely not be enough for the newer technologies like LTE for 4G data. 2) If the signal coming through the low E glass on the offices facing the glass is withing 10db of your inside signal you are going to have degraded performance. 3) IF the density is not high enough you will still need to rip apart the ceilings and add antennas. So I 100% agree with ILAN however in my experience customers who pre-wire without a proper design study might be disappointed when they discover they need to use specific equipment for that design and they still may need to add more coax and antennas. I think in the next 5 years DAS cabling and equipment will get standards which will make this easier for the building owner. SOLID believes COAX is going away. FIBER will be KING in the next 5 years. YES even for DAS.

Ilan Shakked

There is a clear differentiation between coax as the backbone of a DAS (passive system for instance) and coax to the antennae, which is only the last ~100' of distribution. I believe that the hybrid fiber/coax architecture (fiber as the backbone, and coax as the last ~100’ to the antennae) recommended by CommScope is a long lasting multiband solution, and is currently used by the vast majority of DAS equipment manufacturers including CommScope, Corning and even SOLiD! Therefore the investment in the coaxial cable can be used with multiple manufacturers.

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