Dead zones, dropped calls, and buffering internet connections cause undue stress and inconvenience for businesses. Compensating for these frustrations can stifle productivity and tarnish a company’s image.
Many business owners believe that active distributed antenna systems (DAS) are the optimal cellular connectivity solution because these systems generate their own cellular signal. Active DAS solutions eliminate the risk of poor reception and enable users to access and maintain solid connections at any location within the premises where the DAS resides.
Weighing these advantages against the tremendous cost and infrastructure requirements makes it difficult to justify this type of investment. How can a company affordably and reliably resolve its connectivity challenges? A passive DAS is a more viable option than many users have been led to believe.
If you think that a passive DAS can’t provide five-bar reception in your small or large commercial space, then let these myth-busters encourage you to think again. This article dispels three of the top misunderstandings about passive DAS and covers several benefits you may not have considered before.
What’s the Difference Between Active and Passive DAS?
DAS solutions strengthen wireless signals using installed antennas, coaxial cables, and other equipment. They are classified as active, passive, or hybrid. Most commercial users choose between active and passive DAS.
An active DAS is an infrastructure-intensive connectivity solution for extremely large areas. It creates cellular signals and distributes them between its centralized source and remote DAS nodes positioned around a facility. An active DAS is designed for places where thousands of users will access the network in a confined area, such as a stadium or large airport. This type of system is set up by a single carrier network — multi-carrier solutions incur additional investment and recurring costs.
A passive DAS, or a cell phone signal booster system, uses an antenna to capture cellular signals from nearby or far-away cell towers. It then enhances signals up to 32 times with an amplifier unit and redistributes them via inside antennas and coaxial cables. It does not create new signals. Most passive DAS systems support multiple carriers simultaneously, so everyone can get the same amplified signal regardless of their network.
Putting 3 Passive DAS Rumors to Rest
For most businesses, a passive DAS is an excellent solution to spotty cellular service. It requires significantly less equipment, set up, and maintenance, yet it can provide the robust, consistent connectivity users expect. Concerns about oscillation and overload issues, installation difficulties, and poor performance are completely unfounded. Here’s why:
Myth #1: Oscillation & Overload Make Passive DAS Systems Shut Down Often
One pervasive myth is that oscillation and overload can easily short-circuit a signal booster system — causing major connectivity disruptions. Though oscillation is disruptive to be sure, FCC regulations are designed to protect users from this kind of damage.
Oscillation happens when the outside donor antenna and the inside broadcast antenna are too close to each other. This proximity triggers a feedback loop and can damage the system. However, the FCC mandates that all cell phone signal boosters be designed to auto-detect oscillation and power down or off when it occurs. This issue can also be averted or remedied by increasing the distance between the two antennas.
Overload occurs when the outside signal is too strong for the booster. Sometimes, competing cell towers close by can overpower your donor antenna and cause it to shut down. Should this happen, you can aim the outside antenna away from the tower or install a frequency filter. Frequency filters can lessen the strength of the overpowering signal and enable the amplifier to boost the desired cell signal.
Myth #2: Installing a Passive DAS Is Cumbersome
While active DAS solutions call for substantial financial investment and at least a year to complete installation, a passive DAS takes only weeks for most businesses. Although a passive DAS is easy to install, a trained professional installer can maximize system efficiency and help ensure the best reception possible. An expert installer understands the nuances of cell signal strength. They can tweak system antennas and equipment to mitigate issues associated with oscillation and overload.
Installing an active DAS is a complex, expensive process. It involves federal agencies, carrier network engineers, dedicated backhaul construction, and a high amount of capital. Active DAS can cost hundreds of thousands to implement — sometimes even millions. And it doesn’t stop there. The backhaul requirements and dedicated fiber optics mean you’ll be paying recurring support fees, too.
Myth #3: Passive DAS Systems Don’t Provide Reliable Coverage
Passive DAS solutions can increase cell signals by up to 32 times over the incoming signal for stronger data and voice service. This amplification is typically more than sufficient for average users in a building of less than 250,000 square feet. Your WilsonPro integrator can design a solution to help you achieve maximum internet service connection.
Should You Install a Second WiFi?
In-house WiFi systems in some facilities cannot meet the bandwidth needs of multiple users seeking a connection at the same time. However, installing another temporary or permanent DAS would incur more hefty outlays and maintenance costs. Your WilsonPro dealer can install a cost-effective, speedy passive DAS solution. They can customize your booster to work in conjunction with existing Wi-Fi networks to enhance connectivity for your business.
Do You Really Need an Active DAS?
Immense spaces such as universities or airports can easily justify installing an active DAS. They typically own or hold long-term leases on their commercial property and can afford to invest the capital and time needed to deploy this solution. However, most businesses can find the connectivity solution they’re looking for without such a big commitment.
Here are some facts to consider:
- Over 90% of commercial buildings in the United States are smaller than 50,000 square feet.
- Installing a single-carrier active DAS can cost $2-$4 per square foot, and a multi-carrier install can cost up to $10 per square foot.
- An active DAS requires extensive integration and coordination with the carrier network or networks.
On the other hand, a passive DAS offers a more financially feasible solution:
- Installation and hardware usually run only $0.30 – $1 per square foot.
- A passive DAS already conforms to FCC regulations.
- A passive DAS can support all major carriers and many smaller regional carriers simultaneously.
For those companies whose buildings cover less than 500,000 square feet, a passive DAS is plenty effective for ensuring strong connectivity. It provides solid reception for indoor and outdoor spaces in every type of industry. This solution also enhances online security with a stable, encrypted internet connection.
Installing a Passive DAS
Your WilsonPro representative can help you explore options to suit your unique connectivity needs when you call. They will refer you to a certified integrator in your area who will perform a site survey and devise a customized plan. After professional installation, your integrator will provide maintenance and support for any issues. However, the cloud-enabled booster systems let the integrator make many adjustments remotely for optimal cellular service.
An authorized WilsonPro dealer can show you how our comprehensive passive DAS solutions can help you solve your connectivity issues without budget-busting, time-consuming investments. We tailor our innovative, flexible technology to fit your current needs and accommodate future challenges seamlessly.
Put a rapid end to poor cellular reception at your business with a passive DAS — contact us today.