DAS: Are they really needed and do they cost you an arm and a leg?

Posted by Aakriti Pandey on Apr 12, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Apr 12, 2018 _ Blog Banner Image 

DAS, a system that boosts the cellular signal reception and coverage, has become a must-have in the commercial space. While some may still view it as a layer that simply adds costs and complexity to a real estate project, DAS can be a significant value-add to any property. Then there’s another shade: the Public Safety DAS. There are requirements mandated by FCC for buildings to have emergency responder radio coverage system.  Its systems and signal boosters provide first responders and public safety professionals with stable and reliable radio coverage in buildings and other structures. Any building owner would always want to be assured of the safety of its tenants and occupants. However, in case of any emergency, it is critical for the first responders to be able to communicate clearly in all areas of buildings and facilities in their jurisdiction.


How do I know if DAS is a requirement in my building?

While Public Safety DAS is mostly a mandated requirement in all facilities, the building structure and material can be a factor. Buildings with wood structures with standard windows, for example, DAS may not be a requirement presuming the signal is strong enough to go through these materials. On the other hand, structures made of concrete, steel or even brick with low-e windows that hinder the inside from the signal would most likely call for the mandatory Public Safety DAS.


How does the DAS cost differ based on locations and frequencies?

There are different frequency ranges, such as VHF, UHF, or Public Safety frequencies of 700-800MHz - and this is one of the key variance in DAS pricing. Different cities, regions and jurisdictions have different frequency requirements and fire codes. Cost will be less if you only need 700-800 MHz frequencies and will go upward from there if you also need VHF, UHF, of all of the above.

Will your building need Public Safety frequencies only or do you also need cellular frequencies? That will be another key determinant of your cost. Will you work with a single carrier, or will multiple carriers be involved? The more carriers you incorporate in your DAS design, the better it will be for your tenants and occupants who bring multitudes of devices with different carriers. However, it comes with a more steep price in doing so. DAS integrators are well-equipped with such information and guidelines.


How much do they cost and how are the cost estimated?

Typically the DAS costs are modelled on as a $$/Sq.Ft. structure, and ‘how much do they cost’ is a ‘how long is a string’ type of question because DAS costs vary greatly based on a number of different factors. What type of building is it? Is it a residential property, or is it a commercial tower, a warehouse, or a hospital? What features does it have? An underground parking, quirky corners, shielded backrooms, a tricky stairwell, or all of the above? How large is the space? How complicated is the cable pathways? Will it be installed as a part of the construction or is it a project on a completed structure where you may have to cut through ceilings? What is the location?


All of the above contribute directly in scoping out the requirements, create a plan, and develop an estimation. Will it cost you an arm and a leg? Well, it can be an expensive installation depending on many factors, but it will be more precarious when you don’t have it. But for a general idea, public safety DAS can cost from approximately $0.15/sq.ft to $0.30sq./ft. Cellular DAS, on the other hand, can go as high as $0.50/sq.ft to $100/sq.ft. Yeah -  the costs can be that diverse based on so many variances.


Is DAS the most cost-effective system?

DAS, in comparison to the Small Cells for example, are significantly more costly option; however, in most cases, DAS (in tandem with the signal boosters) really is the only option for the building owners and developers to comply with the IFC and NFPA’s regulatory requirements. Or be ready to shell out more when it becomes a more glaring problem - for example, when you have no certification to show a fire marshall.

Topics: Public Safety DAS