Distributed antenna systems (DAS) have become common, but what if network capacity could be distributed where it is needed most? What about when the capacity needs of a carrier change? What about inside-out DAS coverage of arenas and adjacent areas and in multi-building venues?
DAS operators have begun to want smarter technologies that would allow capacity to be easily increased or shifted from one area to another as user traffic ebbs and flows.
Increasing DAS sectors to meet carriers’ growing traffic needs can be expensive with current technology, according Matt Thompson, Axell Wireless vice president of sales for the Americas.
“The problem is a lack of flexibility to accommodate situations when a carrier wants to add another sector to a DAS. All the systems right now are simulcast, meaning all the same traffic is going to all the remotes. If you want to change something, like add sectors, you have to rewire the system,” he told AGL Small Cell Link.
Another dilemma DAS operators face is maximizing equipment resources dedicated to venues that are used on a limited basis. For example, a college stadium with 40 sectors represents a substantial equipment investment and may only see substantial use in the fall and then sit idle for the rest of the year.
“If you were to take that traffic and redirect it to the college campus, you could increase the capacity in the dorms without any additional cost,” Thompson said. Similarly, with a multi-use facility, capacity can be shifted from business offices to residential units and to retail space, depending on the day of the week or even time of day, he added.
The key issue in these scenarios is DAS capacity management, and Axell Wireless has developed a digital technology, idDAS (intelligent digital DAS), that provides operators with more control of equipment resources,” Thompson said.
“We digitize the RF, right from the beginning, down to the individual channel and send it to a central hub, where it is instructed on which remotes to go to. This allows us to direct that traffic to go anywhere in the system,” he said. “For example, let’s say you have one sector with 10 remotes but you want to add a sector. We can add a sector by programming the second sector to have remotes six through 10, and remotes one through five will stay in sector one. You have complete control over which direction the traffic goes, which opens the door to the concept of capacity management.”
Axell Wireless is showing a working system at the Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona, and it plans to hold trials this summer. Currently taking orders, the OEM expects to ship by the end of the year.
“The customers that are going to want this system are the ones that deal with multi-operator, multi-venue DAS. It should really be of interest to AT&T ASG, Verizon Wireless, American Tower, Crown Castle and ExteNet Systems,” Thompson said.