5G DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems)

5G DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems)

5G DAS Solutions are really the elephant in the room right now. The exact strategy of how 5G will be delivered over DAS continues to become clearer and evolve each day

Like any great technology shift, there is a lot of media attention and hysteria that comes with it. Some people will tell you that the DAS solutions of today will not support 5G and require a completely new system, and while elements of that are true, there are others that are not.

5G includes a range of technologies across a variety of bands, some of which will indeed never be deployed over a conventional Distributed Antenna System, and there would be little reason to.

Wireless Coverage Solutions have an entire 5G technology-focused article that breaks down 5G into its various technologies and offerings. Below is a summary of the various 5G technologies and their direct relevance to DAS Systems.

You may have heard of mmWave 5G which includes features such as Massive MIMO and Beamforming. These are some seriously exciting technologies that can only be delivered when every antenna in a system is ‘intelligent’. This is typically the architecture of a small cell system (which doesn’t currently support true multi-operator implementations). There will be times and use cases in buildings for high dwell locations where there may be a viable solution, however, it would be rare (and expensive) to deploy such a system throughout the building. This is where DAS and 5G diverge, but this is only one facet of the 5G ecosystem.

What we do know is that initial 5G deployments across the world are primarily happening in the sub 6GHz bands with the 3600MHz bands, being a popular choice globally (and in Australia). This is important because the 3600Mhz 5G band can be supported by DAS components to varying degrees. In addition to the deployment of 5G on this new band, operators are rolling out low band 5G and refarming their existing spectrum. This involves the carriers re-farming their existing spectrum, something which we have seen previously in the migration from 2G, 3G, 4G and now 5G. Telstra has recently announced its plans to reuse the current 3G 850MHz spectrum to 5G by 2024. 

5G DAS, 5G DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems)
Spectrum map comparing FR1 and FR2

This is all great news for 5G Distributed Antenna Systems as it means that modern DAS will have an onramp into 5G, you won’t be able to get 5G on a DAS system built-in 1999 (there are plenty out there) but there should be opportunities for a well-designed MCF2018 DAS system to see some form of 5G services in the future.

The important piece to note is that 5G DAS is an operator driven rollout program right now and like all technology changes the initial priority is the outdoor network. There are still plenty of buildings today without dedicated 4G DAS coverage (or even 3G Coverage) where tenants can’t even make phone calls. It’s incredible the amount of throughput that can be delivered on a 4G DAS today which begs the question, what will we need 5G DAS for in the short-term future.

DAS is no different from shopping for a Big Screen TV, there will always be something new that comes out tomorrow. But if tenants don’t have coverage today, with typical DAS projects in the 6-9 month range, there is an immediate issue to solve. As with all technology there will always be something new on the horizon, but at any point in time, we can provide a variety of steps to future proof a DAS system for 5G based on the current technologies available.

Wireless Coverage Solutions DAS Designs have a variety of considerations to allow for future upgradability, including 5G. Contact us today to discuss your project’s needs