Why Are DAS System Prices Presented As Ranges Instead of Fixed Costs?
Deploying a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) within a building is crucial in ensuring reliable wireless communication and enhanced coverage. However, determining the exact costs associated with a DAS installation can be challenging for System Integrators. Compared to standardized products with fixed prices, the complexities of each project, combined with a myriad of influential factors, make it difficult to provide precise costs upfront.
Instead, DAS System Integrators, like the IWS team at MCA, are forced to use price ranges until a comprehensive site survey and RF benchmarking test can be performed within the facility in question.
Quick View of Factors Influencing DAS Installation Costs
The geographical location of the project and the associated travel distance can influence costs due to logistical considerations and transportation expenses.
The building’s size, type, and internal RF environment significantly impact the scope and complexity of the DAS installation. Variables such as interior wall makeup, ceiling type, and even the parking situation must be considered.
The presence of an existing system or cabling may affect the compatibility, reusability, and integration requirements, potentially affecting overall costs.
Active component power requirements, available power outlets, cable tray availability, conduit requirements, and wall/ceiling/roof penetration specifications all contribute to the DAS installation’s technical complexity and subsequent costs.
The Need for Site Surveys and RF Benchmarking
Due to the many factors involved, DAS System Integrators must conduct comprehensive site surveys and RF benchmarking tests to accurately assess the specific needs of each facility. These on-site evaluations provide critical insights into signal propagation, coverage gaps, interference sources, and the overall RF environment. By gathering this essential data, DAS System Integrators can tailor their solutions, equipment choices, and installation plans to meet the precise requirements of the facility, ensuring optimal performance and compliance with regulatory codes.
Price Ranges: Ensuring Transparency and Flexibility
Considering the unique nature of each DAS installation project, System Integrators like MCA often rely on providing price ranges rather than fixed costs upfront. These ranges serve as initial estimates based on their experience and industry benchmarks. By offering price ranges, DAS System Integrators aim to maintain transparency while accounting for the specific variables that may influence costs.
Exploring DAS Pricing Factors in Depth
Earlier, pricing factors were summarized into four easy-to-comprehend buckets, but to truly understand them, it’s necessary to take a deeper dive. All the factors listed below can individually affect the costs of purchasing or installing a distributed antenna system (DAS) for both Public Safety Radio and Cellular frequencies within a building in the following ways:
The distance required for technicians and equipment to travel to the installation site can impact costs due to transportation expenses and the time needed for installation.
The project’s location, such as the city or town, can influence costs due to variations in labor rates, permit fees, local regulations, and availability of resources.
Size Of The Building
The size of the building affects the scale of the DAS installation. Larger buildings will always require more antennas, cables, and equipment, resulting in higher costs. Besides the obvious need for more antennas and cables, for every 250,000 sq ft your building contains, more infrastructure components are needed to support those antennas and cables, spiking costs for every 250,000 sq ft area.
Type Of Building And Internal Rf Environment
Different building types, such as residential, commercial, or industrial, may have unique RF challenges and infrastructure requirements. Complex internal RF environments, such as buildings with dense structures or high interference, may require additional equipment and customization, impacting costs.
Internal Wall Makeup
The composition of internal walls, such as concrete, metal, or thick barriers, can affect the signal propagation and coverage within the building. Special considerations or modifications may be necessary, leading to increased costs.
Cabling Ease Difficulties
The ease or difficulty of running cables throughout the building can impact costs. Complex installations involving intricate pathways, tight spaces, or extensive retrofitting may require additional labor and materials. If your facility already has infrastructure that allows for additional cabling, costs are lower; if your building was constructed without future infrastructure in mind, costs will be higher. Future-proofing buildings at the time of construction is the best way to keep costs low for future technology upgrades.
Existing System Or Cabling
If an existing system or cabling is in place, the infrastructure’s compatibility, condition, and reusability can influence costs. Upgrades or integration with the current system may be required, impacting overall expenses.
Cable Tray Availability
The availability and accessibility of cable trays for routing and organizing cables can affect the ease of installation. The need for additional cable tray installation or modifications can impact costs.
Active Component Power Requirements
Active components of the DAS, such as amplifiers and signal boosters, may have specific power requirements. Ensuring sufficient power supply and infrastructure to support these components may add to the overall costs.
Available Power Outlets
The availability of power outlets near the DAS equipment locations can impact installation costs. Additional electrical work or wiring may be necessary if power outlets are insufficient or need to be installed.
Using conduits for cable management and protection may be necessary depending on local regulations and building codes. The need to install or modify conduits can contribute to installation costs.
Wall/Ceiling/Roof Penetration Requirements
If the DAS requires penetrations through walls, ceilings, or roofs for antenna placement or cable routing, additional labor, materials, and potential structural modifications may be required, affecting costs.
Different ceiling types, such as drop or high ceilings, can impact installation and accessibility. Specialized equipment or installation techniques may be needed, influencing costs.
If the DAS antennas are roof-mounted, the type of roof structure and mounting method can affect costs. Additional reinforcement, engineering analysis, or specialized equipment may be required.
Rooftop RF Environment
The RF environment on the rooftop, including existing antennas, nearby interference sources, or line-of-sight challenges, can impact the design and installation of the DAS. Mitigation measures or customized solutions may be necessary, impacting costs.
The availability and accessibility of parking for installation vehicles and equipment can affect costs, especially in congested urban areas or locations with limited parking options.
Desired Frequency Band
The desired frequency bands can significantly impact the costs of purchasing and installing a distributed antenna system (DAS) within a building. Different frequency bands require specific equipment and components to support them.
If the desired frequency bands are uncommon or less widely supported, finding compatible DAS equipment may be more challenging, which can increase costs. Additionally, if the desired frequency bands require advanced technologies or specialized equipment, it can add to the overall expenses of the DAS system.
Carrier involvement refers to the participation of mobile network operators (carriers) in installing and operating the DAS system. When carriers are actively involved, they may have specific requirements, guidelines, or preferences for the DAS deployment. This involvement can impact the costs in various ways.
For example, carriers may require particular equipment or configurations, and the DAS system integrator might need to comply with these specifications, which can result in additional expenses. Moreover, carriers may charge fees or require contractual agreements for utilizing their networks, which can influence the overall costs of the DAS system. Sometimes, they help support the installation cost, which may help boost their overall network coverage and resiliency.
Existing Signal Sources
The presence of existing signal sources, such as nearby cell towers or neighboring wireless systems, can affect the costs of installing a DAS within a building. If strong existing signal sources are nearby, it may be possible to leverage them to enhance the DAS coverage and reduce the need for additional equipment or infrastructure.
On the other hand, if the existing signal sources are weak or insufficient, it might be necessary to deploy additional equipment, such as signal boosters or repeaters, to ensure adequate signal strength throughout the building. The need for other equipment and the complexity of integrating with existing signal sources can impact the overall costs of the DAS installation.
DAS Estimating Overview
It’s important to note that the specific impact and magnitude of these factors on costs can vary depending on the project’s unique circumstances, local regulations, and the complexity of the DAS installation.
DAS installations are complex endeavors that require a comprehensive understanding of the facility, technical requirements, and regulatory compliance. While it may be challenging for DAS System Integrators to list actual costs online, price ranges provide a flexible and transparent approach until a thorough site survey and RF benchmarking test can be performed. By collaborating closely with clients, our IWS team can deliver customized solutions that meet your unique needs, ensuring optimal wireless coverage and communication within each of your facilities.
MCA is one of the largest and most trusted DAS integrators in the United States, offering world-class voice, data, and security solutions that enhance the quality, safety, and productivity of customers, operations, and lives.
More than 65,000 customers trust MCA to provide carefully researched solutions for a safe, secure, and more efficient workplace. As your trusted advisor, we reduce the time and effort needed to research, install, and maintain the right solutions to improve your workplace.
Our team of certified professionals across the United States delivers a full suite of reliable technologies with a service-first approach. The MCA advantage is our extensive service portfolio to support the solution lifecycle from start to finish.
Contact us today to start the estimating process.