OK, not the best title but HetNet systems will love DAS with small cells for a few reasons. I have seen many types of DAS systems out there. Some of them are just passive using the outside signal to work inside while others have a full-blown eNodeB set up to feed the DAS in a building. That is for iDAS, oDAS could be something setup to feed a street or an arena or it could be a mixture of the two. These systems can be complicated.
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By the way, the next time you see a DAS RF engineer, thank him and say he’s a good man. The good DAS engineers are truly artists, only using RF to back up their artistic ability to get the system to work with minimal self and cross interference. Not an easy task.
So why would the DAS love a small cell? Well for one thing you can feed a DAS system with lower power, thereby eliminating all the attenuators that a full-blown eNodeB would need. Why do they need attenuators? Because most DAS engineers learned that some eNodeB will reset and come back at full power blowing the DAS system up, causing a huge expense in parts and labor. So, set it at full power and attenuate it down. If you worked with these systems then you can feel the heat, and you hope the cooling system does not fail! So the Small Cells will help eliminate that problem. Lower power, fewer attenuators mean lower costs and lower cooling costs. One more thing, fans fail often and need to be cared for or replaced regularly. Removing the fans removes a point of failure.
So the HetNet love will happen between the small cell and the DAS system because with the growth of LTE and heavy data system we can start to see system improvements and cost reductions. LTE is changing everything because smart phones have increased our data dependency to a point where we are all addicted. Don’t feel bad because with machine to machine (M2M) communications even machines are data dependent. By the way, they are also including this in the Internet of Things (IoT) so when you read about that just think of terminator and how the machines could all talk to each other without human intervention. I know, not the same thing, or is it?
To be clear, DAS is more than one frequency normally, they could include the several carriers and Wi-Fi. A Small Cell is usually dedicated to one carrier and may or may not be one frequency, usually it is one band within the carriers arsenal. They have several but they will dedicate the small cell to that one technology, normally. Each small cell is dedicated to that specific technology. Meaning LTE, 3G, TDD, or FDD. Remember that the small cell is usually a very small cell site so it has limitations. Whereas DAS will have flexibility for the customer to use any cell phone and get Wi-Fi access all at the same time. Small Cells probably will have Wi-Fi co-located in them or near them, but really, let’s take a small cell for what it is, a small cell site and Wi-Fi for what it is, a hot spot. I was reading Martha DeGrasse’s RCR article about HetNet and DAS, found here, and it reminded me how much work they have for big venues, like the Super Bowl. You can see the last Super Bowl results in Fierce Wireless here. Fierce Wireless wrote about the deployment issues here if you want to see the limitations out there. While Joe Madden does a comparison, I see more of a marriage between them. It just makes more sense to me.
Again, next time you talk to a DAS deployment team, shake their hand and say “Good job!” so they know they are appreciated. It is no easy task to plan and deploy and test. Upgrading is even more of an issue!
I need DAS and small cell pictures, I can’t share most of what I have. So if you have some I can post, send them my way or put them on Facebook, Wade4Wireless, firstname.lastname@example.org!
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