2010 IT Horizons 33
behind the technologY
ability or public saety and cellular signals to penetratethe building. For example, a DAS will enable the publicsaety signal to be enhanced to a signal strength o -85dBm, while providing up to 90% coverage in any build-ing environment, which is now oten a requirement innew building construction. A DAS uses a repeater on top o a building to retrievethe multiple carrier, PCS and/or public saety 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 viaber 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 Amplier (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 amplier andan internal rebroadcast antenna. These are similar to thecellular broadcast towers that network providers use tobroadcast signals, but are much smaller, usually intendedor 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 sucient.
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 amplication (seeFigure 2). With no power to ampliy 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 ampliy 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 manuacturero 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 sotware can actually model the signalstrength and create a BOM (Bill o Materials), along withthe actual design or the specic 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 oset 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.