It might be hard to believe, but a huge swath of what is known as Class A commercial real estate or the highest-quality buildings on the market has yet to be penetrated by in-building wireless systems.
ExteNet System identified real estate venues as ripe for implementation of indoor DAS three years ago. Two years ago, ExteNet deployed a DAS in the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago.
“We see a lot of Class A buildings without in-building coverage, similar to the Willis Tower before we deployed there,” Ross Manire, ExteNet president and CEO, told DAS Bulletin.
Soaring 1,454 feet above Midtown Manhattan, the iconic Empire State Building also did not have an in-building wireless system. Until now. ExteNet Systems signed an agreement with Malkin Holdings to design, own and operate the distributed antenna system that will enable wireless access on each of the building’s 102 stories. The new DAS will serve as the crown jewel in the building’s makeover, which includes energy-efficiency, buildingwide energy infrastructure upgrades and the restoration of the art deco lobby at a cost of more than $550 million.
“Malkin Holdings clearly wanted to get coverage inside of the building as quickly as possible. It is such an iconic building, and it has so much traffic going to the observation deck, plus the amenity for tenants,” Manire said.
ExteNet is currently deploying its network, which is slated for completion in the second quarter 2014. SOLiD is the vendor for the hardware, and 15 miles of coax and fiber will be required to wire the building.
Manire describe the Empire State Building system as a “hard build.” With the building undergoing a complete preservation, ExteNet has the challenge of getting its work done while trying to stay out of the way of the other contractors. Additionally, because the structure is older, it doesn’t have raceways to pull cable through and will take more engineering work.
“One of the criteria of building an in-building DAS is that you have to generate enough signal in the interior space of the building so that you block out signal from the macrocellular environment outdoors,” Manire said. “That could demand a higher power system or more nodes and antennas spread throughout the building.”
Extenet is paying for the complete cost of the system and the deployment upfront with the expectation that it will attract multiple carriers to pay to use the system. So far, Verizon Wireless and Sprint have signed on as tenants on the neutral host system.
“We have two carriers and are working on getting two more,” Manire said. “We will move forward with an agreement from one carrier. If you waited until all four carriers agreed, you would never get anything done.”