DFN: Telco’s find the use of DAS a better alternative to fully building out their own networks, and improving coverage. Generally, it takes 9 months to a year to deploy a DAS network, the telco pays for some of the upfront costs and commits to using the network often built to their own specifications for a 10 – 15 year period.
LTE deployments driving new distributed antenna deployments
by Kevin Fitchard 3/16/2010
As Verizon, Metro and soon AT&T gear up for their LTE launches, DAS vendors and service providers are seeing much more interest in their wares
The advent of long-term evolution (LTE) in the US is spurring a lot of sectors of wireless industry, from device to network infrastructure to application developers. But one relatively minor product sector in wireless is seeing a particularly high upsurge in growth due to 4G deployments: the distributed antenna system (DAS).
DAS deployments divide the capacity of the cell among several lower-power spatially separated antennas, allowing an operator to gerrymander its coverage indoors and around obstacles or to create a much less obtrusive network. DAS has taken a rather low-key role in the US over the years, used mainly as a means of providing spot coverage in large public gathering places such as stadiums, but as Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ, NYSE:VOD), MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) and AT&T (NYSE:T) deploy LTE, DAS is taking on a much more significant role, according to DAS suppliers.
ADC (NYSE:ADC) vice president of product management John Spindler said that Verizon’s deployment of LTE at 700 MHz is relying much more on DAS technologies than its previous network rollouts. LTE is a data-centric technology, in which there is much greater emphasis on indoor coverage than with voice-centric networks, Spindler said.
“We’ve already sold a significant amount of DAS equipment to Verizon at 700 MHz,” Spindler said. “They have to ensure that all of the airports and stadiums are covered from the beginning. … In-building has become a key piece of the networking process rather than just an afterthought.”
While DAS sales were flat for ADC in 2009, Spindler said ADC is anticipated a 20% growth in indoor DAS equipment in 2010, largely fueled by Verizon’s LTE efforts.
DAS integrator NextG Networks sees a similar trend with outdoor DAS systems. Rather than driven specifically by 4G, outdoor DAS deployments are becoming a component of most new network rollouts as carriers find it increasingly difficult to get the zoning approvals and permits to deploy new macro-cells, said Bo Piekarski, NextG vice president of product management and marketing. NextG acts as a carrier’s carrier for distributed cellular deployments, running a network of utility poles and other structures which operators hang their DAS gear and a fiber network along public rights-of-way, which connects those antennas back to remote base stations.
NextG deployed more than 2000 DAS nodes last year, driven primarily by Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and Metro’s deployment of new CDMA networks in the advanced wireless service (AWS) band. DAS equipment supplied by Andrew Corp was the primary access cellular architecture, MetroPCS used in its rollouts in Boston, New York and Philadelphia due to the crowded towers in those dense markets, Piekarski said. NextG has deployed 5000 DAS nodes already and is under contract to deploy another 1500 nodes. Overall Piekarski predict s 25% to 30% growth in NextG’s commercial footprint in 2010, much of it driven by LTE.
Metro will be able to use the same DAS sites at AWS for its 700 MHz LTE network. Meanwhile, NextG is in discussions with both Verizon and AT&T about using DAS to augment their own LTE footprints, Piekarski said.