The Good Stuff


Outdoor Distributed Antenna Systems: How It Works & Benefits

By Team Boingo
  • Article
  • 5 min read
A Distributed Antenna System (DAS) consists of a network of antennas that facilitate wireless cellular connectivity for an area, structure or building. DAS technology resolves service gaps that result from conditions such as mobile data growth and highly trafficked areas across vast square footage. The deployment configuration of DAS is highly customized to the environment. Depending on the conditions, ethernet, fiber, or coaxial cables connect the antennas to the base station. Through one of the transport mediums, the antennas broadcast a signal from the participating carrier. The base stations, which are also customized, enhance, and distribute the signal through the segments of a site. DAS are transformative in areas that previously had little to no cellular signal coverage.  


Outdoor Distributed Antenna Systems (oDAS) amplify and transmit carrier signals in complex, spacious outdoor settings. Open-air settings present serious challenges to wireless connectivity. Using multiple antennas outdoors can boost capacity and quality while reducing cumulative power use.  


Outdoor amphitheaters subways, tunnels and parking lots, can utilize oDAS networks to overcome connectivity hurdles that would otherwise exist in these types of large spaces. When the macro network cannot reach an area, oDAS solutions bridge the gap with powerful coverage and extensive capacity. In densely populated areas, cell towers alone are not viable resolutions for service gaps. In areas where Long Term Evolution (LTE) connection speed is unstable or unavailable, oDAS can strengthen signals of multiple carriers. Deploying oDAS improves business operations, customer experiences and public safety.  


Dropped calls and bad reception are not only bothersome, they’re unacceptable at world-class venues that prioritize a great guest experience. Reliable coverage is a necessity for everyday life and is essential in emergencies. oDAS provides seamless coverage using multiple wireless platforms such as LTE, Global System for Mobiles (GSM), Public Safety bands, and more. Rigorous performance metrics such as speed and latency are met as users move throughout a property supported by oDAS. All types of devices, including cell phones, tablets and wearables, are hosted by oDAS. Because data consumption is rapidly increasing overtime, the inherent flexibility of oDAS includes capacity buffers and opportunities for system growth.  


The expansive, complex geographies served by oDAS require remote antennas and amplifiers to reach places unreachable by cell towers. Signals are transported to and from the remote nodes using fibers. The fibers connect to base units that generate, translate, refine, and control the signal. Remote Radio Heads (RRHs) are sometimes used to transmit and receive the signals. RRH nodes are protected by waterproofing measures in public areas exposed to the elements. Many oDAS systems are active configurations. Active DAS are used when logistics dictate that the signal needs to transmit directly from the fiber to the RRHs. Active DAS require dedicated power, and they are easily expandable because they do not utilize coaxial cables. Active DAS networks are ideal for densely populated outdoor spaces that require exceptional performance.  


In addition to serving different contexts, oDAS and indoor DAS (iDAS) differ in a few ways. RHHs are utilized by oDAS, and Remote Radio Units (RRUs) are utilized by iDAS.  


Installers assess every aspect of a location including terrain, architectural features, structural materials, carrier availability and usage goals. Any existing signal is traced and measured. Every site is unique and requires a customized network. The overall solution design is informed by client feedback and site surveys. Client feedback spans anticipated capacity requirements as well as patterns and locations of use. Information about the carriers is also gathered to understand the signal supply. Each location needs to be optimized to eliminate dead zones. Once DAS is installed, the network is tested. Any gaps and issues that are revealed are reconciled before the components are connected and the system is launched. After installation, ongoing support and maintenance are required to provide seamless 24/7/365 coverage. With 20 years of experience as an industry leader, Boingo excels at designing, building and managing DAS networks. Boingo is the largest provider of indoor DAS in the U.S. Learn more by contacting Boingo today.