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Comba Telecom Adds UHF BDA to Its Public Safety Product Line

CriticalPoint UHF BDA design focuses on practicality to keep overall costs and size lowwithout sacrificing reliability and performance for first responders

(5 August 2018 – Milpitas, CA) – Comba Telecom, Inc. (Subsidiary of Comba Telecom Systems Holdings Ltd.), a global leading wireless solutions provider, today released the CriticalPoint™ Public Safety UHF BDA solution at the APCO 2018 | 84th Annual Conference & Expo.

The CriticalPoint UHF BDA supports frequencies from 450MHz to 512MHz and supports INTERNAL one-window or dual-window filters for various passbands within the NEMA 4 enclosure to lower overall costs, reduce installation costs, and save space. Additionally, features that are found on the award-winning 700/800MHz public safety BDA such as supporting up to 32 narrow band channels (Class A) or 4 wide-band channels (Class B), Channelized Automatic Level Control and channelized squelch (Class A) are also incorporated in the UHF BDA.

In addition, a brand new exclusive feature has been released called NetProtect™.  NetProtect allows the BDA to automatically turn off the uplink Power Amplifier (PA) when there is no traffic activity so ‘no noise’ is transmitted back to the base station, helping to keep the public safety network clean. The NetProtect feature can be found on both our latest UHF BDA as well as Comba’s 700/800MHz Class A BDA.

Other CriticalPoint UHF BDA Features:
• Available in Class A or Class B                   • Available in AC or DC powered

• 36dBm / 30dBm DL/UL Power,                 • Supports SNMP v2 & v3 / Easy-to-use
95dB Gain (Simplex)                                   OMT web interface

•Built-in mandatory isolation test to           • NEMA 4 and NFPA 1221/IFC compliant
prevent BDA oscillation                              as well as FCC and UL/IC approved

“We’re proud to add the CriticalPoint UHF BDA in Comba’s public safety product line,” said Don Henry, Comba’s Public Safety Program Manager. “We have made it our goal to provide public safety solutions that satisfy the strictest codes enforced around the country by AHJs (Authority Having Jurisdiction) and understanding how equally important it is to offer a solution to building owners to minimize costs both from a product standpoint as well as ongoing maintenance.  We strongly believe we have accomplished both with our UHF BDA and are committed to our mission of providing the most affordable, reliable and state of the art products.”

The CriticalPoint UHF (Simplex) BDA Class A and Class B solutions will be shipping in August 2018 in allavailable configurations. Comba will be showcasing its UHF BDA at APCO 2018 from August 5-8, Booth #854. For more product information visit: www.combausa.com/public-safety/uhf.

Comba Telecom Adds Frequency Band Support for ComFlex DAS

Comba Telecom has added support for 600 MHz, 2.3 GHz 2.5 GHz frequencies to its ComFlex DAS solution, which provides modular, multi-band and multi-operator wireless coverage for buildings over 100,000 square feet.

The 600MHz, 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz frequencies will be available as RF modules that slide into ComFlex’s Master Unit. These modules implement the latest 4.3-10 connector standard reducing passive intermodulation (PIM) to minimize adding noise to the network.

Fed from the Master Unit via fiber, the Remote Unit(s) (RU) will support the combined 600MHz, 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz frequencies together in a compact form factor for easy installation and to transmit the wireless signals out to the service antennas. The RUs are available in 5 W indoor versions, as well as 20 W and 40 W indoor/outdoor versions.

Solid Technologies, Comba Grab Subway DAS projects

Solid Technologies’ Alliance neutral-host system has been selected by Transit Wireless to support a DAS being designed to provide wireless coverage and capacity throughout the New York City Subway System including underground stations, mezzanines and corridors.

The multi-year project includes 277 stations, 30 of which are scheduled to go live by the end of 2012. The New York City Subway is the largest and oldest rapid transit rail system in the nation. The scale of the system plus the harsh, subterranean environment makes the project uniquely challenging.

“The RFP process was long and detail oriented. It started with general pricing and solution modeling based upon Solid’s DAS and optical distribution products and included everything from gear specifications and certifications to pricing and delivery commitments,” Seth Buechley, Solid Technologies president, told DAS Bulletin. “It then evolved into derivatives of our Alliance multi-service DAS platform.”

Solid’s technology was also used in the Seoul Metro subway system, and Buechley said that experience was instrumental in securing the NYC contract. “We demonstrated success having deployed a DAS at the Seoul Metro and the ability for quick-turn around through our corporate R&D facility,” he said.

Transit Wireless CEO, William A. Bayne agreed, “Solid’s extensive subway experience in Korea and ability to rapidly customize products and applications make the company ideally-suited to support our mission to enable state-of-the-art wireless coverage to all underground subway stations in New York City.”

Another subway contract has been awarded this month to Comba Telecom Systems by the Bangkok Metro Public Company Limited (BMCL) to provide an end-to-end neutral-host wireless solution to enable 2G and 3G voice and data communications throughout the underground railway network, which serves over 240,000 passengers daily and comprises 18 stations, concourses, tunnels, platforms, and retail stores within the concourses.

Comba Telecom will replace the existing 2G system with a multi-system (2G/3G) active DAS, which includes the DAS repeaters, antennas, passive equipment, cabling and services such as RF design, installation, optimization and maintenance.

Eric Ng, general manager of Southeast Asia for Comba Telecom said, “The modular nature of our DAS solution means that BMCL will be equipped with a scalable system which can be expanded to integrate future requirements such as 4G technologies or new subway lines.”

ADRF Achieves UL 2524 Certification for Public Safety Portfolio

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor


Advanced RF Technologies (ADRF) announced at the International Wireless Communications Expo, earlier this month, that it will receive certification for its public safety repeater series and ADRF battery backup series on the UL 2524 Standard, which enforces a new standard for in-building two-way emergency radio communication for fire and life safety first responders, by April 2019.

UL 2524 requirements covers enclosures, repeaters, transmitters, receivers, signal booster components, remote annunciators and operational consoles, power supply, and battery charging system components. But not passive components.

Cities, such as Washington, DC, will soon require new public safety equipment to comply with UL 2524.

With this certification, ADRF will be the first OEM to offer “Class A” channelized solutions to meet these new stringent requirements.

“We got feedback from AHJs in the field that they were doing to mandate the use of UL 2524, so we fast tracked it and got it into our labs,” Sun Kim, ADRF product manager, told eDigest. “We tested the whole system, including the Class A repeater, back-up battery unit and any other ancillary equipment.

Previously, ADRF built its equipment to the UL rating that was for IT equipment. The updated UL 2524 standard, which is geared toward public safety, is a more robust to make sure the equipment is reliable.

Don Henry of Comba Telecom wrote about the need for codes like UL 2524 on the firm’s web site in November 2018.

“To help to provide flawless in-building public safety communications, AHJs around the country enforce codes and regulations in their jurisdiction to ensure that, if needed, buildings have in-building systems (commonly called ERRCS – Emergency Responder Radio Communications Systems) to ensure that the radio communications for the first responders works effectively inside buildings,” he wrote.

It Takes More than Wi-Fi to Make Commercial Real Estate Tenants Happy with In-Building Connectivity

By Don Henry

A distributed antenna system enhances indoor wireless communications coverage and creates a better user experience for businesses that increasingly rely on mobile devices for productivity.

DAS installed by COMBA Telecom.

In the ultra-competitive world of connected commercial real estate, building owners and property managers are placing a higher priority on in-building wireless connectivity to keep their clients and tenants happy. There is a correlation among tenant happiness, high retention rates and high occupancy rates. In other words, if your tenants are happy, they are renewing their leases, and the property is maximizing its return on investment.

However, some managers are making a technology trade-off in their buildings, and if they are not careful, it could lead to unhappy tenants and high vacancy rates.

Recent trends show that some buildings primarily rely on Wi-Fi technology to provide indoor coverage. But there are limitations on this approach. To truly maximize in-building coverage, it takes a combination of Wi-Fi and distributed antenna system (DAS) networks.

Commercial real estate owners and managers can benefit from the further examination of these two technologies to determine how they can complement one another, and contribute to tenant happiness and efforts to maintain higher occupancy rates.
Although a long list of things keeps commercial real estate tenants happy, in-building wireless connectivity is gaining in importance. Owners and managers of commercial campuses have to offer high connectivity rates and positive end-user experiences for everyone. Bad wireless experiences have caused businesses to pull up stakes and relocate to new buildings because of the growing role that wireless devices play in business productivity.

This reality has encouraged many in the commercial real estate business to sharpen their technology acumen. They are searching for ways to improve the services and capabilities that will keep their tenants happy and encourage them to renew their leases. The expanding use of wireless devices for productivity only reinforces the importance of having a high quality of service for in-building connectivity.

With an estimated 50 billion wireless devices coming on line by 2020, building owners might emphasize investment in Wi-Fi at the expense of DAS. Although this decision might seem to make sense from a cost perspective, in the long term, tenants may not be happy with the limited services they receive on their devices and decide not to renew their leases.

Adding DAS to Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi, or 802.11g as it is known by engineers, has been around since the early 2000s and has become the most recognized solution for connectivity indoors. Commercial real estate professionals see it as the go-to solution for in-building coverage. Although Wi-Fi has cost advantages, it also has drawbacks. Constraints on Wi-Fi bandwidth frequently show themselves when too many users try to connect simultaneously. This situation has a negative effect on customer experience and can lead to unhappy tenants.

Adding a DAS to augment Wi-Fi traffic can increase network capacity and allow more wireless devices to connect. This will help alleviate coverage problems, lessen the effects of demand spikes and keep tenants and customers happy.

Although some Wi-Fi technology enhancements are available, they may not alleviate connectivity constraints. For example, Wi-Fi calling is an emerging capability in high demand, but not every client has access to this feature. Only subscribers to certain network operators will allow Wi-Fi calling on their proprietary devices.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) subscribers won’t receive Wi-Fi calling and, in some cases, they also won’t be able to use a competitive capability known as voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE).

Alternatively, commercial real estate professionals should understand what a DAS is and how it serves the in-building services for tenants. DAS enhances capacity and improves coverage to an existing Wi-Fi network. The A DAS is a network of small antennas installed inside of a building and powered by an amplification system, using either a bidirectional amplifier (BDA) or active fiber system that relays cellular signals from either a rooftop donor antenna or from a base station that is installed by the operator on the premises. The system then retransmits the signals throughout the building to provide optimal wireless coverage.

DAS has been around for many years, but has become prevalent recently because of amplified demand for in-building connectivity. Falling hardware and installation costs have contributed substantially to the rise of DAS use.
The advantages of DAS become more evident if you explore the particular attributes of each system.

DAS and Data Communications

Today, virtually everyone uses a smartphone, and all smartphones and tablets are Wi-Fi-capable. A user’s device can access the internet through the Wi-Fi system, which is ultimately connected with the internet through the building’s service provider. However, Wi-Fi access points (APs) each have their radios. These radios employ channel-hopping to find the highest data throughput. These two attributes can often create connection losses and interference within the Wi-Fi network. They occur within the interior of the building, but they don’t involve the building’s internet connection.

What role does DAS play in alleviating Wi-Fi interference and connection loss? Wireless operator networks provide high data throughput speeds. With the advent of 4G and LTE, operator networks data speeds often exceed Wi-Fi and other broadband internet connections.

Small DAS antennas are passive devices designed to minimize interference. Also, the wireless operators spend a significant amount ofeffort to ensure that all subscribers can access the internet through their network and that a high quality of service is provided by high data throughput.

In short, a DAS supporting cellular communications can provide robust, high-speed internet connectivity that is often better than Wi-Fi. Additionally, a DAS antenna provides significantly greater coverage area than Wi-Fi APs because of a design advantage in the architecture of DAS systems. Only one-third to one-half as many DAS antennas are needed to cover the same area as Wi-Fi APs.

DAS and Voice Services

Some subscribers can use Wi-Fi calling if their service provider allows for it. And some can use VoLTE if it is available. If neither option is available, then voice calls over the cellular network are the only service available. And this may not be possible without a DAS.
Also, if a wireless device user needed to place a call to 911 for emergency service, that call would not go through without VoLTE or Wi-Fi availability, or if DAS investments had been minimalized and no cellular coverage were available inside the building.

DAS and Security

Security is a high priority for everyone, but Wi-Fi poses potential vulnerabilities for data breach or theft. A recent report found that all Wi-Fi networks are vulnerable to hacking.

Security is at the heart of all businesses, and it is in the best interest of the commercial real estate professional to ensure the wireless services it offers come with robust security protocols. Although a DAS doesn’t provide security itself, the network operator will deploy data encryption and a dedicated pipeline, rather than a shared resource where data can be compromised.

DAS and Quality of Service

Operators always want to provide high quality of service (QoS) levels to keep customers happy. Interference can cause problems with keeping calls and internet traffic flowing. Operator network engineers always keep an eye on their territories to ensure their QoS meets their company’s strict standards. If interference is detected, they quickly identify and mitigate it. DAS signals are bound by these same QoS standards and provide customers with high-quality signals within the building. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, has been notoriously vulnerable to interference, especially in multitenant buildings.
Wi-Fi will continue to be a staple of commercial real estate offerings, but DAS is quickly becoming attractive — so much so, it is referred to as the fourth utility to keep tenants connected and happy. The cost of owning and installing a DAS system has come down in recent years with total cost of ownership running as low as 50 cents per square foot of coverage area. For these reasons, DAS installations should become more prevalent in commercial buildings to offer customers a better wireless online experience than Wi-Fi alone.

The Guardian, October 2017, “All Wi-Fi Networks Are Vulnerable to Hacking, Security Expert Discovers,” www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/16/wpa2-wifi-security-vulnerable-hacking-us-government-warns.

Don Henry is a former police officer now serving as public safety program manager and director of sales at Comba Telecom. His law enforcement work inspired his interest in developing in-building public safety communications to provide first responders with better technology. Visit www.comba-telecom.com.

This article ran on page 34 in the August 2018 issue of AGL Magazine.