An recent years we have witnessed the emergence of distributed antenna system (DAS). It is an interesting advancement that has a number of interesting applications and advantages in the world of communications. Essentially, a DAS is a network of antennas that are spaced at different intervals from each other but are still all connected to a single, common source. This helps the DAS provide wireless or even radio coverage within a given area. But what are the applications and implications of such a system?
Why Is DAS Being Employed Now?
This is not really a particularly new invention, idea, or concept. It was first mentioned in a research paper back in 1987. However, with the increased use of wireless systems within buildings and other places where it is difficult to maintain coverage, such a system works perfectly. Imagine being able to use your mobile phone and other devices while traveling in the subway, deep underground? A DAS makes this entirely possible. In fact, it has been reported that several US subway systems are implementing a DAS so that commuters can stay connected.
Advantages Of DAS:
The first major advantage of such a system is that it results in a reduced outlay of total power. This also means that less power is actually wasted. Since everyone today seems to be looking for ways to save energy, this is a great idea. Additionally, the system also results in a better defined coverage area with fewer holes. This also leads to much improved reception, especially among Wi-Fi and other wireless types of networks.
In terms of the actual structure of a system, it seems to be rather easy to implement. The individual antennas, or nodes, do not need to be as high as a single antenna would in order to provide the equivalent level of coverage. The system may be implemented using passive splitters and feeders or even active-repeater amplifiers in order to overcome feeder losses.
DAS Being Fueled By Growth In Data Traffic:
One of the reasons for the emergence of DAS is the continued and rapid growth in mobile networks and the amount of data that is being demanded by subscribers. As you can imagine, this places much greater demands on coverage and capacity. Many subscribers are now demanding that their mobile devices should be able to work indoors. A lot of other communications devices and networks have always represented a challenge for reliable coverage.
The sophistication of mobile devices is also continuing to increase. Mobile video traffic has now exceeded 50 percent of mobile data, and the data traffic itself has grown by 70 percent in 2012. This has led operators to pay more and more attention to their overage networks and reliability, especially focusing on indoor coverage (indoor use now accounts for 80 percent of mobile data traffic).
DAS Becomes More Sophisticated:
Another interesting thing about DAS is that it can be very flexible. Need to expand the coverage area? Connect more nodes. The emergence of distributed antenna system also can overcome coverage and capacity challenges by breaking things down into sectors and then channeling the network capacity as appropriate. Fiber optic cabling networks can be used to reach inside locations or the system can be fed through an off-air digital repeater. It is really quite diverse, allowing for continued development and advancement as the needs and demands of the network change.
Written by Matt Jones at Wireless Capital Partners, LLC