Since the late 1800s, commercial buildings with multiple stories have become a significant industry, especially in cities like New York, where there are 308 buildings over 30 stories tall. Although these high-rise buildings efficiently use limited real estate, they may not be ideal for today's technology-driven society. Most cellular devices are used at street level, causing cellular towers to direct their signals downward, limiting the reach of cellular signals to just the 10th story or lower in large buildings.
The layout of commercial buildings, even those that are not very tall, can also make it difficult for cellular signals to reach the interior spaces of a building. Strong signals may be present in open areas like lobbies, but as the signal has to penetrate through walls, doors, windows, and around corners, the signal strength decreases. Elevators, often located in the center of buildings and surrounded by thick concrete and metal walls, pose a particular challenge, with signals significantly weakened in these areas.
This weak signal strength is not just an inconvenience to building residents and workers but also affects the safety and operations of the building. The global workforce's reliance on having constant Internet access means that property managers and owners may struggle to attract tenants if the building has poor signal strength. Business operations can also be affected if IoT devices cannot maintain connectivity. In an emergency, individuals may find themselves unable to call for help, and first responders may be unable to communicate with each other if they arrive at the scene to find poor cellular signal.
To ensure a building has a strong enough cellular signal, Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) should be deployed.
These systems consist of multiple antennas distributed throughout or around a property to capture cellular signals and direct them to areas with weak signals. Property developers can choose from Active, Passive, Hybrid, and Digital DAS systems.
While DAS installations benefit property owners, they also offer advantages to the Mobile Network Operator (MNO). These include:
- Supplemental Capacity,
However, installing a DAS can be costly, especially in substantial buildings. Initially, MNOs funded these installations to provide better signal strength to their subscribers in certain buildings. However, as more venues were covered, MNOs reduced funding as they saw commercial buildings as a lower priority than landlines and WiFi. As mobile devices have become more important for workers and businesses, strong cellular signals are just as critical as a landline and WiFi.
To learn more about the commerical value of DAS systems, click here.
There are several funding options available for DAS installations including:
- Neutral Host,
Mobile Operator Funded,
Third-Party Funded with Partial Mobile Network Operator Capital Expenditure,
Third-Party Funded with No Mobile Network Operator Funding,
Dedicated Private LTE Network.
To learn more about the funding of commerical DAS systems, click here.