DAS still the premier choice for US universities

There’s a great debate going on amongst managers of university campuses here in the US on how best to provide voice, data and public safety coverage with some suggesting Wi-Fi could be the sole solution when all major carriers launch reliable calling over the protocol. However, this school of thought fails to take into consideration the limitations of Wi-Fi and significant cost-savings and infrastructure sharing capabilities available with modern DAS.

Even if we assume Wi-Fi calling is close to ubiquity and widescale commercial adoption – which is far from the case – Wi-Fi still suffers from significant outdoor issues which cannot easily be solved without huge increases in power output to propagate the signal away from indoor access points. Availability is also heavily dependent on the signal being able to penetrate the walls of buildings to be made available outside.

With many campuses covering huge sites comprising lecture halls, accommodation, recreation and sports facilities, it is difficult to see how Wi-Fi could form the basis of a reliable solution for the entire site. When this infrastructure is also the basis for public safety communications the problem becomes even more serious.


As members of ACUTA – The Association for College and University Technology Advancement – we are committed to helping the industry solve these issues and enable the ubiquitous cellular and emergency service coverage staff and students require.

Although DAS is sometimes considered an expensive solution, modern systems have been developed which drastically reduce OPEX and CAPEX while still delivering the high level of cellular and public safety coverage it is renowned for. In addition, the new generation of DAS can use the same underlying infrastructure as Wi-Fi and other IT systems to provide significant cost-savings, particularly when fitted during the construction phase of new facilities.

DAS technology has grown in sophistication and is now a vital part of network planning, supporting every major wireless technology including GSM, WCDMA and LTE. It is now also capable of providing IP backhaul infrastructure serving, for example, small cells and devices such as surveillance cameras. Many universities have combined modern DAS with small cells and Wi-Fi to provide a complete coverage footprint both indoors and outdoors.

The development of Cobham Wireless’ idDAS makes DAS an even more compelling solution as it offers the ability to move capacity to where it is needed most depending on the changing requirements of each individual zone. This is especially relevant in the university and college sector where facilities have peaks of activity in certain areas at specific times of the day.

For example, during the day coverage can be channelled away from the leisure facilities to the lecture halls and the libraries where it is most needed, and then supplied into the sports facilities or accommodation in the evening. With traditional DAS, this coverage provision would need to be hard wired into the whole facility, consuming significant power resources even when the capacity wasn’t needed.

This new generation of DAS is an extremely attractive proposition for educational establishments, which have been traditionally a strong supporter of DAS technology. Early adopters of idDAS are already enjoying the OPEX savings given by modern systems as their students and staff can access to the complete range of high-quality communications services wherever they are in the facility.

DAS is, and will continue to be, a key component of cellular and public safety communication provision on campus, offering a level of reliability unable to be achieved by Wi-Fi alone. Educational facilities are now actively investing in modern DAS systems that make the system an even more compelling proposition to keep the US’s colleges among the best connected in the world.

For more information on provisioning DAS into a campus environment please click on the button below.

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John Giarolo John Giarolo
VP Coverage, Americas, Cobham Wireless

John Giarolo is VP of Coverage for the Americas at Cobham Wireless, with a focus on building relationships with Tier One carriers by solving customer business problems and creating win, win business environments. He has over 20 years of experience in directing and building sales teams focused primarily on the service provider market.

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