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DAS for Healthcare

DAS for Healthcare

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DAS for Healthcare
DAS for Healthcare

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Published by: FKN: Fairsport Knowledge Network on Sep 15, 2013
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32 IT Horizons 2010
behind the technologY 
 J
ust as the use o wireless local area networks (LANs)is exploding in healthcare, so is the use o mobilephones, broadband adapters or laptops, and hand-helds such as Blackberries and iPhones. A new era hasarrived whereby physicians, patients, and their amiliesare demanding to use these devices in the hospital. Hos-pitals oten require coverage or other services as well,such as in-house mobile radios, paging and emergency responders. Typically the healthcare customer wants in-building wireless coverage rom all carriers and requen-cies. A distributed antenna system (DAS) is one optionor providing such coverage. Many orces are driving this trend toward wirelesscommunication. New ordinances are being enacted inthe United States that require pervasive rst respondercoverage or new building construction. The City o Bur-bank, CA was the rst jurisdiction to require such publicsaety coverage, and in that city a Certicate o Occu-pancy will not be issued to any structure i the buildingails to oer adequate coverage. Physicians increasingly need to stay in constant communication via either theircell phone, Blackberry, or a similar converged device likethe iPhone. Patients and their amilies also demand that their devices work. Wireless medical device applicationsare also coming online in such areas as telemetry, trans-port, and inusion pumps.Hospitals notoriously are some o the worst environ-ments or radiorequency (RF) coverage. Due to theage o buildings and the use o lead-lined rooms, tile walls, fuids and lots o metal, they are challenged withmulti-path—an RF signal propagation phenomenon that results in signals reaching the receiving antenna by twoor more paths, causing intererence with and ading o signals. Poured concrete pan construction o new hospi-tals also tends to keep signals out, and the refective glassthat is designed to increase energy eciency by keepingheat and cooling rom leaving the building also tends tokeep cellular signals rom penetrating into the buildingenvironment.Distributed antenna systems are proving eectiveat meeting the need or multi-carrier, multi-requency coverage in the hospital environment. DAS systems wereintended or broadband coverage, that is, in-buildingcellular, public saety, and Personal CommunicationsService (PCS) coverage. (PCS is the name or the 1900 MHz radio band used or digital mobile phone servicesin Canada, Mexico and the United States.) That has beentheir intended use model. Today there is a movement to expand this use model toinclude other medical applications. Yet, this technology is relatively new in the hospital environment. A team o healthcare proessionals—including representation rominormation technology, clinical engineering, acilities,and executive management—needs to careully evaluatethe risks and benets o this technology in a particularhealthcare environment prior to implementation. Thisarticle will oer an overview o DAS systems and a dis-cussion o the risks and benets o such systems in thehealthcare environment.
What is a Distributed Antenna System?
 A distributed antenna system (DAS) is a network o spa-tially separated antenna nodes connected to a commonsource via a transport medium that provides wireless ser- vice within a geographic area or structure (see Figure 1). A DAS uses ber optic cable, coaxial cable, and antennasto enhance public saety, cellular, and other signals withina building environment. Hospitals nd them valuablebecause the construction o many hospitals impedes the
Distributed Antenna Systemsfor Healthcare
David H. Hoglund
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David H. Hoglund
is the principal andounder o Integra Systems, Inc. Hiscore business practice revolves aroundimprovements in mobility communica-tions, work ow, and automation pro-cess, coupled to productivity throughall the aspects o wireless technologies.He has worked extensively with distrib-uted antenna systems with a variety oclients. Integra Systems, Inc. provides strategic planning orthese technologies.
 
2010 IT Horizons 33
behind the technologY 
ability or public saety and cellular signals to penetratethe building. For example, a DAS will enable the publicsaety signal to be enhanced to a signal strength o -85dBm, while providing up to 90% coverage in any build-ing environment, which is now oten a requirement innew building construction. A DAS uses a repeater on top o a building to retrievethe multiple carrier, PCS and/or public saety signals. A repeater is an electronic device that receives a signal andretransmits it at a higher level and/or higher power, oronto the other side o an obstruction, so that the signalcan cover longer distances. A DAS system then distrib-utes the signals throughout the building through one o two designs: passive or active. Passive DAS systems usea coaxial cable with antennas as end points to distributethe signals. Alternatively, in an active design, the signalscan be converted to optical light and carried vertically viaber optic cable through the building foor plate. In thisdesign the signals are then converted back to RF signalsand distributed on each respective foor via a coaxial cableand antenna design.Depending upon the size o the implementation, most DAS systems use either a Bi-Directional Amplier (BDA)or a Base Transceiver Station (BTS). A BDA is a deviceused to boost the cell phone reception to the local areaby the using a reception antenna, a signal amplier andan internal rebroadcast antenna. These are similar to thecellular broadcast towers that network providers use tobroadcast signals, but are much smaller, usually intendedor use by one building. A BTS is more typically used inareas like an airport or stadium where huge numbers o users might overwhelm a cell site. Inmost hospital environments a typicalBDA is sucient.
Passive Versus Active DASDesign
 The size o the desired coveragearea is the key actor in deciding whether a passive or active DASdesign is needed. Generally speak-ing, in smaller coverage areas (under200,000 sq. t.), passive designs areadequate, but in larger areas over200,000 sq. t., rom a coverage, link budget, and cost standpoint, it makesmore sense to use an active system. A passive DAS, which is less ex-pensive and easier to install, uses no amplication (seeFigure 2). With no power to ampliy the signals, the200,000 sq. t. range is the limit at which you can achievethe required -85 dBm (ve bars) on the mobile device. An active system uses power to ampliy signals and is, o course, more expensive and more complicated to install(see Figure 3). When designing a DAS, the existing and potentialconstruction model and also building materials willdictate the actual design and signal propagation. Thusa site survey combined with a signal propagation model will need to be completed. The leading manuacturero an in-building propagation modeling tool is iBwaveSolutions, Inc. (Quebec, Canada, www.ibwave.com). Animage o the building layout in computer-aided design(CAD) or PDF ormat can be imported into this tool, which has a library o building materials such as walls,lead-lined, refective windows, etc. Once these are notedon the design, the sotware can actually model the signalstrength and create a BOM (Bill o Materials), along withthe actual design or the specic building environment.
Financing the Indoor DAS
In some business models with dedicated carrier con-tracts, carriers will sometimes und the installation o DAS systems to support their requencies. Carrierssimply make a nancial decision, calculating the numbero units times the average revenue per unit times theterm o the contract, to oset the cost o the DAS. Thecarriers should always be approached to see what rolethey will play. They will sometimes und some or part o 
Figure 1. A typical distributed antenna system shown rom a high level.
 
34 IT Horizons 2010
behind the technologY 
Figure 2. A typical passive design or a distributed antenna system.Figure 3. This diagram shows in a simplifed ormat how the signals rom the carriers are received by an antenna and amplifed in an active DAS. The signals are frstfltered and converted to an optical transport, then distributed throughout the building. On each oor the signals are converted back to RF and transmitted via acoaxial cable inrastructure. At the end o this coaxial cable inrastructure, one antenna acts to provide uniorm and consistent coverage in a general area o 20,000square eet.

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