Many business owners and building managers go with active distributed antenna systems (DAS) because they think they need the highest level of cellular connectivity. While active DAS makes sense for larger businesses and buildings, for many smaller facilities, they’re flushing money down the drain with cellular enhancement overkill.
When your business’s building or venue has poor cell reception and slow internet speeds, you need a solution for your guests, clients, and employees that works. But you also need to consider the cost. For many businesses, passive DAS is a viable option that won’t break the bank.
In this article, we’ll discuss the circumstances that make passive DAS the right solution for your business.
What is Passive DAS
Passive DAS solutions are what most businesses deploy when they need to boost cellular coverage in their buildings. With passive DAS, a donor antenna on the roof of your building picks up the signal from carrier cell towers and rebroadcasts it throughout your facility with bi-directional amplifiers.
The weak cell signal that was once coming straight into your building from cell towers is enhanced and amplified by your systems antenna, amplifiers, and other components. Passive DAS uses “passive” components, such as coaxial cable, splitters, and diplexers, to distribute better signal and coverage throughout your building.
In short, passive DAS uses an outside antenna to capture cellular signals from towers. With its main amplifier unit, it then distributes that signal by indoor antennas and through coaxial cables, giving your building up to 32x greater strength and coverage.
At MCA, all of our DAS solutions support multiple carriers, so you’ll get the same enhanced coverage and capacity regardless of your network.
Passive DAS Offers Great Cell Boosting Capabilities
While MCA sells the best-in-class DAS solutions and never skimps on quality, we also guarantee never to oversell you on systems that you don’t need. For many businesses, a passive DAS offers an excellent solution to spotty cell coverage for pennies on the dollar compared to active DAS.
Passive DAS requires less equipment, installation, and maintenance, while still providing strong and consistent connectivity.
So why do some businesses and building managers overspend on DAS solutions?
They cite three common misconceptions about DAS: oscillation and overload issues, difficult installation, and lack of performance. Let’s address each of these concerns.
Oscillation and Overload Will Shut Down Your Passive DAS
Oscillation refers to the problem that occurs when your outside donor antenna is too close to your indoor broadcast antennas. In the past, the proximity of antennas in a passive distributed antenna system sometimes produced a feedback loop that damaged an entire DAS system.
But then, the FCC mandated that these systems needed to be designed to detect oscillation and automatically shut down. The problem of oscillation is pretty easy to avoid even without the FCC. MCA’s DAS technicians and designers place antennas with enough distance between them to avert the potentially damaging effects of feedback entirely.
Overload happens when the signals from cell towers overwhelm your building’s donor antenna. If you have a number of towers in the immediate vicinity of your building, your antenna can be overpowered by outside signal strength. The simplest design and engineering trick to prevent overload is aiming your antenna away from towers. You might also install frequency filters that lessen the strength of the signal coming to your donor antenna.
Installing Passive Systems is Difficult
Professional passive DAS installation ensures maximum signal strength throughout your building, getting your system up and running in weeks. As we pointed out above, the expert DAS engineers, designers, and installers at MCA understand how to maximize signal strength, while also avoiding the potential pitfalls of oscillation and overload.
On the other hand, active DAS can take months to install (though we at MCA are extremely efficient at these types of installations). Sometimes active DAS is absolutely necessary. But if a passive DAS system is right for your business, it makes sense to avoid the extra infrastructure and installation costs associated with other types of DAS systems.
Passive Systems Don’t Perform Well
When you’re shopping for distributed antenna systems, you need a company that takes an honest and cost-effective approach. What works for one business’s building won’t work for another. The factors that go into choosing the right DAS for your business or venue include such things as size, building materials, and the concentration of your building’s occupants.
For instance, if your business has a small-to-moderate occupancy, passive DAS can usually deliver plenty of cellular support. On the other hand, if you have a low occupancy, but a large building, such as a hotel, passive DAS might not be the best solution, because the individual DAS connection points in a passive system might overlap and fail to provide coverage.
But passive DAS can still deliver more than 3000% in additional signal strength for stronger data and voice coverage.
The general rule of thumb is that you should implement passive DAS when your building is less than 250,000 square feet.
Passive DAS vs. Second WiFi
The Wifi systems in many buildings and facilities cannot meet the bandwidth needs of multiple guests, clients, and employees connecting at the same time. While adding more WiFi hotspots might offer a quick fix, it is rarely a sustainable solution.
At MCA, we install best-in-class passive DAS that meets the bandwidth requirements you need by optimizing alongside your existing Wi-Fi networks. Whatever system is right for your business, you can count on us to provide you with an honest assessment of your needs.