What Does a DAS Cost for an Enterprise? It Depends!
I enjoy working on a number of different technologies in the wired and wireless worlds in support of business enterprises. Most of the wired technologies have hard and fast rules about how they are designed and implemented (for example, TIA 568, 606 or 942). The availability of standardized rules helps to make it easy to determine the overall cost for a project. However, the intrinsic complexity of a wireless system, and specifically a distributed antenna system (DAS), adds a layer of difficulty and uncertainty if one attempts to price its cost without sufficient analysis.
When building owners or property managers ask about the costs of deploying DAS within their buildings, my standard answer is, "It depends!" It does not depend on how much someone wants to spend or has in the budget. It truly depends on the various choices that are made to accommodate the three "C's" - coverage, capacity and carriers. Like the five C's of diamond selection, each of the C's in DAS impacts the cost of implementing DAS within an enterprise facility.
Coverage - What is the structural design for which you are trying to improve the coverage? Is it a large open space? Or is it a dense (lots of concrete) construction? Does it have reflective glass windows? Are stair cases required as part of the coverage?
Capacity - Is the structure meant to accommodate many employees? Many customers? A large warehouse? Do the people and the systems that monitor the networks and infrastructure have high data connectivity requirements? Is it a large public venue? What kinds of services will people be using? It is very important to be conscious of the fact that wireless carriers will place capacity requirements on a DAS based on their estimations of the end user traffic profiles in your venue. The carriers want to ensure the best network performance. Ultimately, capacity requirements will affect the cost of not only the DAS but the investment the carrier will need to make on its network.
Carriers - When I ask building owners and managers, "Which service providers do you want to support?," a common answer is, "Every one - all of them!" It is well understood in the enterprise market that-with trends like Bring Your Own Device and building visitors who might use any of the carriers in the marketplace-deploying a DAS that is not multicarrier is equivalent to supporting only some of your visitors. It is important to acknowledge that supporting all carriers might require supporting all the technologies and frequency bands for which the carriers are deploying their cellular systems.
How do these variables impact each other? The obvious answer is, "As each increases, the cost can go up." But the not so obvious answer is, "Each of these variables directly impacts the other two."
To understand the relationship and the impact of each of these variables in the enterprise market, CommScope works closely with In-Building Wireless Partners who are part of the company's PartnerPRO Network. Our IBW Partners can identify the impact of each of the "C's" and provide a balance to meet your expectations. If you have questions about the relationship among the three C's yourself, leave a comment and we'll get an answer to you.
About the Author
Bob Matthews joined CommScope Solutions in February 2010 as a Technical Manager supporting Wireless, Infrastructure and Intelligent systems. Bob has an education in Electronics (Telecom) and Management studies and several years of experience working in the telecom field working on Wireless (including InBuilding and Microwave), Wireline and Infrastructure projects throughout his career.
Prior to joining CommScope, Bob worked for ADC Telecom as Sr. Systems Project Engineer supporting Wireless, Wireline and Infrastructure projects, Bell Canada as a Systems Engineer supporting Active networks (LANs/WANS) and for CMQ communications providing network design and installation/commissioning.
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