DAS Key Players
There are several key players in the deployment of a DAS solution and each of the parties involved may have different goals for the project. Your decision on which of these players to work with will be based on the amount of time you have to invest in your DAS deployment and operation. If you want to invest minimal time, a neutral host provider will provide a turnkey service that includes ownership, operation and maintenance. If you have more time to invest, you can work directly with a systems integrator. As a building owner it is important to understand who you are dealing with at each phase of the project.
Wireless Service Providers
Wireless services providers (WSPs), aka carriers or operators, own and operate the networks that make your mobile devices work. These entities own the radio spectrum in specific markets where their services operate and must authorize any DAS (Distributed Antenna System) which amplifies or rebroadcasts their channels.
Equipment manufacturers produce the active electronic components of the DAS. There are several equipment manufacturers and each equipment line has advantages and disadvantages. There is no right equipment type for all buildings, but there is often one that is significantly better for a specific building.
System Integrators, aka Value Added Resellers (VARs), are responsible for the design, installation and commissioning of the DAS. In some cases, System Integrators will also offer monitoring and maintenance packages. Some system integrators perform this work themselves, while others act as a project management shop and subcontract out the bulk of the work. Either business model can lead to a successful DAS deployment if the integrator has the expertise to manage the project appropriately.
Neutral Host Providers
Neutral Host Providers are another type of DAS integrator. Instead of being hired to build a DAS, which will be owned by a WSP or the building owner, the Neutral Host wants to lease space in your building to deploy a DAS that they will own, operate and maintain. Their business model is to lease access to this DAS to the WSPs to generate revenue. Working with a neutral host provider means sharing the DAS revenue with another player, so you will want to make sure that their input is worth the cost.
An informed customer can become a key player in the design, deployment and operation of their own DAS. Unfortunately, most building owners don’t have the time to understand the intricacies of the DAS marketplace. By hiring Steel in the Air, you can ensure that your interests are protected and the solution provided is the best for your venue and customers.
When wireless carriers install their antennas onto a cell site, they may or may not do so in consideration of future tenants. The current industry trend is for multiple wireless carriers to share cell sites (also known as collocation). Future collocation of additional tenants could increase your rental payments, so it’s a good idea to understand how this might play out before any equipment is installed.
Consumer demand for higher speeds brought on by robust and rising Smartphone and tablet usage, and the pervasive 4G technology migration, will drive future demand for cell site leasing. The number of cell sites in the U.S. alone is expected to surpass 400,000 by 2015.
If you are already planning on installing a DAS in your building, it is a good idea to make sure it will support public safety channels in case they are needed in the future.