April 5, 2016 — With the pace of wireless technology from 2G to 5G and rapid fire spectrum auctions by the FCC, the only thing DAS users can count on is change. For instance, new hardware was required when carriers rolled out LTE and, with AWS-3 is currently coming on the market followed by 600 MHz, DAS systems will need more updates.
And change may be the worst thing for enterprise users of DAS, because they are cost sensitive and averse to spending time on what they see as overhead, according to John Spindler, VP of marketing, Zinwave. If a lot of upgrades need to be made to a DAS, the enterprise may opt for a voice over Wi-Fi solution or settle for macro penetration.
“When additional frequencies are deployed by the carriers, you may need an additional remote in the ceiling and extra cabling infrastructure. If your cabinets are full, you may require a second system,” he said. “The enterprise is going to say, ‘What just happened here? How much is this going to cost to support those new frequencies?’ It can be extremely painful from a budget standpoint.”
As major venues have been built out and carriers have moderated their DAS penetration, an effective enterprise-funded business model is seen as the crucial to future increases in DAS buildouts. Equipment providers are working on providing the value proposition that will break open the enterprise market.
Using distinct amplifiers to power each frequency band can end up requiring additional equipment when new spectrum is added by the carrier. The answer to future proofing, according to Spindler, is using a system that has one broadband amplifier to cover all the bands.
The City of Bellevue, Washington, recently deployed a Zinwave DAS to support both public safety and commercial cellular frequencies in its City Hall complex, which can handle additional new frequencies without hardware upgrades as carriers license new spectrum and as FirstNet comes online in the coming years.
As Public Safety Becomes Imperative, Enterprise DAS Will Follow
Offering DAS that supports both carrier and public safety channels was essential when marketing DAS to the City of Bellevue, according to Spindler, because government entities always have a budget for the public safety element. Zinwave has deployed DAS in a number of county municipal buildings with public safety coverage and cellular mixed in, as well.
Spindler sees that market trend broadening out beyond municipalities to include enterprises. Zinwave has been quite active in public safety space, universities and museums, as well as municipalities. A number of other DAS OEMs, including DALI Wireless, Cobham Wireless and SOLiD, are also marketing to the public safety side.
“We are seeing a broader trend in the market where enterprises are looking at the need for public safety capability in their in-building wireless systems. [Public safety DAS] is becoming more of a concern, moving from a nice-to-have to a must-have,” Spindler said. “The enterprises are telling us that they can’t fund in-building cellular but with public safety in-building there is no question that they will fund it. If you can bring cellular with the public safety coverage, it’s even better. Killing two birds with one stone.”
Continuing this trend, the dynamics of the DAS are going to shift further toward public safety DAS when FirstNet is rolled out across the country, he added.
April 8, 2015 — Since it was announced at the Mobile World Congress a little more than a year ago, TE Connectivity’s CPRI Digital Interface Unit (CDIU) has been deployed in several types of venues from sporting to hospitality, mostly as upgrades to existing TE Connectivity RF-fed systems.
The first deployment was at Mizzou Arena, home of the University of Missouri Tigers, which was already using a Flexwave digital DAS. The second deployment was an upgrade of the DAS at Paul Brown Stadium where the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals play football. There were a couple of high-rise DAS upgrades in New York, including the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Additionally, a greenfield deployment was performed at Washington State University’s football stadium.
“It has been deployed commercially within a number of different venues with different carriers – all successfully,” John Spindler, director of product management, TE Connectivity, told AGL Small Cell Link. “These deployments proved that CPRI can be used in a large public venue with high user density, as well as an enterprise-type type of hotel environment.”
To upgrade an existing TE Connectivity DAS, all the remote radio heads and the accompanying attenuation panels are removed so the baseband signal goes directly into the Flexwave host unit. Digital RF cards in the host unit also need to be replaced with CDIU cards.
As a result, a DAS using a CPRI interface system features a substantial decrease in equipment costs and a considerable reduction in operation expenses over time. Additional cost savings come from less power use for equipment consumption and cooling, less building space and fiber use.
DAS, which is known for being more expensive than small cell solutions, may see an increase in potential target market, because of the cost savings made possible by CPRI.
“A lot of the major, high-end sporting venues have been built out, but there may be greenfield sites that did not come together in terms of dollars and cents using an RF feed that it will be more attractive with a CPRI feed,” Spindler said. “Older buildings that simply did not have enough space for RF-fed headend equipment may also see and opportunity with CPRI-fed DAS.”
The cost and performance features of a CPRI-fed DAS also make for a compelling case for upgrading existing DAS, as well, according to Spindler.
“Use of a CPRI interface allows for better uplink sensitivity and fewer sources of possible PIM versus a traditional RF- fed DAS,” he said. “We expect to see a significant ramp up of those types of deployments through the balance of the year.”
July 10, 2014 — All stadium wireless systems evolve over time with changes in usage, new spectrum and advances in technology, but sometimes an upgrade will be spurred by a special event to ensure adequate capacity. That is certainly the case with Target Field in Minneapolis, which plans to be ready with extra wireless capacity, as the Major League Baseball All-Star Game brings a mass of people with wireless digital devices, as well as additional scrutiny by MLB executives, media and a nationwide TV audience.
In preparation for this year’s Major League Base All-Star Game and the prospect of additional strain on the capacity of the wireless system, Insite Wireless revamped the DAS at Target Field using equipment from TE Connectivity.
“There are no empty seats at an All-Star Game. It is a big event with a huge influx of media,” said John Spindler, TE Connectivity vice president product management. “While the stadium has a seating capacity of 39,000 people, conservatively there will be around 45,000 to 50,000 people in the stadium, which demands a lot more wireless system capacity than a regular game.”
The All-Star revamp of the DAS at Target Field included adding 1900 MHz MIMO and 2100 MHz Advanced Wireless Service 4G LTE services and adding eight new sectors — four for access and egress areas and four for the seating area.
“We are seeing this across the entire portfolio of stadiums that we have done,” Spindler said. “There are three tools that DAS providers have to increase capacity: they can add frequencies, they can increase the number of coverage sectors, and they can deploy MIMO antennas.”
The equipment manufacturer has worked with Insite Wireless on DAS solutions at the ball field since Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, opened in 2010 when a low-power 2G and 3G DAS using the 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands was deployed in the locker rooms and business offices. A year later, high-power remotes were deployed for coverage in the seating areas and the concourses using six sectors. In 2012, 700 MHz LTE capability was added into the system.
After the All-Star Game is over, the Twins won’t let the extra capacity go to waste as fans will gobble up data like hot dogs.
“Enhancing the fan experience through wireless helps stadiums compete to get fans to leave their couch at home and come to the event. The ability to see replays is something that has not been available at the stadiums,” Spindler said.
Additionally, active components were added to the BTS-to-DAS headend, to reduce the need for space and allow for remote diagnostics and monitoring of the carriers’ downlink power levels.
Although it has been somewhat ignored in the past, base transceiver station-to-DAS headend connectivity is now getting a lot of attention from manufacturers.
“Given the prevalence of DAS deployments, and multi-operator DAS installations in particular, BTS-to-DAS solutions are critical,” John Spindler, TE Connectivity director, product management, in-building DAS, told AGL Small Cell Link.
Historically, integrating base transceiver stations into DAS headends was done in a couple of ways. One was to take a hodgepodge of attenuators, splitters and combiners from different sources and assemble the cables and components on-site. Later the packaging was improved when manufacturers began assembling the parts and delivering them to integrators in a box, which made it easier because it reduced the installation time.
But both methods were passive. Any attenuation had to be made by manually turning the knobs, and there was no effective way to monitor it remotely.
The development of active integration panels (AIP) provides a new era of connectivity between mobile operator base stations and DAS with features such as remote monitoring and software configurable controls that improve system management, according to Spindler.
“In a multi-operator scenario, monitoring the downlink allows you to make sure that a single operator does not take more of the composite power than the other operators,” he said. “With a user- configurable automatic limit control on the downlink, you can avoid overdriving the DAS headend.”
With remote monitoring, in the case of a problem, the system may be fixed without sending a service tech. Diagnostics may be performed over the Internet, and adjustments may be made to the systems, Spindler said.
“If you cannot monitor these systems remotely and diagnose the problems, they are hard to maintain. This is a big step forward,” he said.
Active integration panels offer space savings, which may reduce the footprint in the headend by as much as 75 percent compared with traditional, passive attenuation panels. This solves the problem of space, which can be both expensive and scarce.
“You’ll see racks and racks of attenuation panels in large venues,” Splindler said. “Space is huge. Getting enough space for the DAS headend can be problematic in some places. With an AIP you get real estate savings from an opex standpoint plus the reduction in installation time and cost.
Active integration technology also reduces passive intermod by eliminating cabling and connectors and using components are low PIM, which is essential for LTE operations.
“With the advent of 4G and LTE, performance has really come to the forefront. Eliminating PIM is imperative so that DAS performs at its best,” Spindler said.
By Don Bishop…
Spark. What a name. What. A. Name.
When Sprint chose the name Sprint Spark for its network capability for enhanced wireless peak data speeds of up to 60 Mbps, maybe the company did not know the name evokes the earliest mode of wireless communications while embracing the latest. For those of the wrinkle-free (faces), the word wireless has no meaning other than today’s commercial service for untethered communications using smartphones and tablets.
One hundred years ago, the word “wireless” referred to what then was an amazing development: the ability to send telegrams without using telegraph wires. Hence, “wireless.” Telegram? What’s that?
A telegram was a text message sent by wire. Today’s text messages are short, and the shorter, the better, it seems. So it was in the early days of telegrams when bandwidth was extremely limited, whether on wires or by wireless. Another echo of the past: Twitter-length messages by wire and by wireless.
And it just so happens that in those early days, wireless signals were generated by sparks. Electricity would be made to jump a
gap to make a spark and thereby create radio waves. The early transmitters were called “spark gap” transmitters. Wireless operators who sent and received messages often were nicknamed “Sparks” or “Sparky.” Ships at sea and those sailing the Great Lakes were among the earliest users of wireless. Heinrich Hertz conclusively proved the existence of the electromagnetic waves used for wireless by using a spark transmitter in 1887.
Twenty years ago or so, when the word “wireless” replaced the word “radio” and mostly replaced the word “cellular” in describing commercial service for untethered communications, it was an interesting throwback across 80 years of telecommunications history. Now, Sprint has reached even further back in using the word “spark” to encompass a service it intends to support a new generation of online gaming, virtual reality, advanced cloud services and other applications requiring high bandwidth.
Sprint Spark now is available in Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas; Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, Fla.; and in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Sprint plans to deploy Sprint Spark in about 100 of America’s largest cities during the next three years.
“When we bring Sprint Spark into a market, it is like trading up to the fastest sports car on the showroom floor,” said Stephen Bye, Sprint’s chief technology officer.
I wonder when Detroit will introduce a new car called a horseless carriage.