At Solid Signal, we sell parts for under a dollar. We also sell solutions that clock in at the high five figures. So it wasn’t a surprise the other day when one of our customers called and asked if we sold Active DAS systems. If you don’t want to read the rest of the story, the answer is “no,” but you still might want to scroll a bit to find out why.
What is an Active DAS system?
A DAS is a Distributed Antenna System. It’s a solution for people who want better cell service. There are several different types, and the costs range from practically nothing to more money than you’ll make in a decade.
Off-air DAS (Passive DAS)
An Off-air DAS, also known as a Passive DAS, is more commonly known as a cellular signal booster. It’s referred to as off-air or passive because it doesn’t actually create more cell system capacity. It amplifies the cell signal that’s there and redistributes it.
In practically every case, a Passive DAS is the right solution. It’s perfect for cars, for homes, and for most sizes of commercial and industrial buildings. It’s perfect because cell companies have spent billions building enough capacity into their systems. All you have to do is make sure your signal is strong enough to use it.
Passive DAS’s can work with multiple carriers and are generally so easy to install that a novice can do it.
Carrier DAS (Active DAS)
A Carrier DAS is unlike a Passive DAS because it actually does create more cell capacity. Let’s say you’re putting up a 50-story building in the middle of an otherwise well-planned downtown. The impact of all the people in this building is going to upset the well-balanced cell system around it, overloading cells and leading to poor service and dropped calls.
In cases like that, cell carriers will put in a specialized cell tower just for that building. It’s not too different from an average cell tower. The big change is that instead of having antennas that point outwards for the largest possible footprint, they point inward and downward so that they can cover a very specific area very well.
Active DAS is very expensive, costing about $4 per square foot, PER CARRIER. That means if you want AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile in your building, you’re paying $12 per square foot. Compare that with a perfectly good Passive solution that can cost under $0.25 per square foot.
Building owners increasingly end up paying the cost of Active DAS solutions. That’s a fairly new thing; in the past carriers were happy to lay out the half-million dollars or so in order to say they had great service. However it’s increasingly seen as the building owner’s responsibility to provide indoor cell service, if the outdoor service is good enough.
Why Solid Signal isn’t in the Active DAS market
Yes, we are AT&T Preferred Dealers. But really we have no real ties to T-Mobile, Verizon, or any other carrier. So we prefer to concentrate on solutions that boost all signals and that means Active DAS. While we have a large division that specializes in these kind of massive infrastructure projects, we tend to let the cell carriers do their thing if an Active DAS is needed.
But, if you do need a great cellular solution, give us a call at 866-726-4182 or fill out the form below. Or, just shop the great selection at SolidSignal.com.