Posted on March 8, 2016

Why Choose a Cell Phone Signal Booster vs. a Distributed Antenna System?

Jamie Elgie

Chief Marketing Officer

Why Choose A Cell Phone Signal Booster Vs. A Distributed Antenna System?Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re one of the many business owners or property managers who struggle with the issue of less-than-perfect cell  phone reception – or a total lack of service in your building – you face an array of options as you look for a solution.

When contemplating technological solutions for enhancing the unfortunate weak cell phone signals found in your neighborhood, business complex, or the floor of your particular building, the options usually come down to two different systems.

Free-standing cell phone signal boosters are becoming a more popular easy-to-install fix for in-office low-signal environments, with solutions ranging from small residential-grade systems to large, high-power commercial systems suitable for serving entire buildings.

On the other hand, many businesses turn to a more complex technology known as a Distributed Antenna System (DAS), which is the integration of an extensive system of linked antennas into a workplace, hotel or hospital – allowing full-strength reception in spots as cell phone signal-averse as subterranean subway platforms.

There are several differences between the two solutions, with the major one being price. Here’s a review of these two systems and information to help you make an informed choice on what technology will work best for you, and your budget.

Complexity of infrastructure

If you’re looking for simple installation and operation, a free-standing cell phone signal booster system offers the ability to quickly add full-bar service to business locations where building materials, environmental interference, or pure distance from carrier towers has resulted in a weakened voice and data signal.

Home cell phone signal booster systems are easy enough for customers to set up themselves, like a new Wi-Fi router or a TV cable box. Larger, commercial-grade boosters do require expert installation, but the process is simple and requires minimal wiring, cable, and modifications.

Best of all, most aftermarket signal boosters are carrier-agnostic, meaning they work with any carrier’s signal, and don’t discriminate – offering employees or customers equal access to the cell phone carriers available in your community.

DAS systems, on the other hand, are dedicated solutions that permanently tie into the electronic infrastructure of a workplace. Cable or fiber-optic lines are run to link the various antennas needed on different floors and various areas of the office. Permanent connections are made with utilities and, most importantly, the carriers themselves. In some cases, this leads to electronic connections that only serve single cell phone carriers, or exclude smaller companies with fewer towers, leaving some of your users without any service, even after an expensive installation.

The more complicated DAS systems may be ideal when factored into new construction, but installing them as an upgrade or retrofit into an existing building is certainly a complicated proposition, and requires the ongoing participation of a number of contractors.

Ease of use and upgradability

Cell phone signal booster antenna systems are, by contrast, virtual plug-and-play solutions and, by design, provide simple access for routine maintenance and upgrades. Many booster solutions are also built to read and anticipate fluctuations in incoming cell phone signals. When overly strong signals come in, the system will compensate, and automatically turn back on when signals are at a safe level.

On the whole, signal booster systems are easier to use, maintain, and upgrade.

Because DAS options are dedicated, hard-wired solutions, they require more expert maintenance and technical support to deal with power or carrier signal outages, signal distribution, or workspace adaptation. Like any infrastructure, they’re also permanent, so companies who opt to move their operations entirely or seriously modify their workplace will need to hire technicians to re-run or remove the miles of wiring and hardware needed to complete the system. Oftentimes, these systems are completely abandoned and the investment is lost when a company changes locations.

The price is right

Finally, and perhaps most important to small businesses, there’s a tremendous cost differential between the two systems. In most cases, a free-standing cell phone signal booster system can be purchased, installed and operated for less than 10% of the cost of a major DAS project. That’s a huge consideration for overhead, especially for a smaller company simply looking to provide guaranteed phone and data access to its employees and visitors.

For companies looking for a simple but effective solution that can instantaneously boost both incoming and outgoing cell phone signals, drastically increase voice quality, and boost data speed, a lower-cost cell phone signal boosting solution is a reliable alternative to DAS systems.

If you’d like to find out more about WilsonPro’s solutions to enhance the cell phone signals at your worksite, visit our product page or download our Buyer's Guide to learn which signal solution is best for your business needs.