Commercial property is a booming industry with prestigious new developments seemingly being completed on a daily basis in property hotspots all over the world. Competition in the sector is fierce with landlords and management firms doing all they can to ensure their facilities are sought after by the highest-profile and highest paying companies. Part of this is ensuring they supply a cutting-edge facility – which increasingly includes DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) as standard.

Since cellular connectivity became widespread in the late 1990s, the problem of how to provision coverage indoors has always been a challenge with construction materials from modern glass to stone all struggling to allow RF signals indoors. Despite these long-standing issues, even in newer commercial property many developers are still failing to consider cellular in the same way as other utilities – including landline – and planning the provisioning of solutions into buildings at an early enough stage.

Rather than getting easier with the advance of technology, the provision of wireless communications is actually becoming more difficult. Many use cases for LTE require access to high-capacity bandwidth which is even more difficult to supply into indoor environments than GSM technology. In addition – as independent consultancy Real Wireless highlighted in its Wireless Technology and Commercial Property Guide last year – widespread use of insulation and glass to keep heat inside office facilities is now also hampering RF signals. This is compounded by other RF propagation issues associated with building materials and problems provisioning coverage into higher floors.

Traditionally tenants and business owners had little choice but to either install their own coverage enhancement systems or just deal with a sub-standard cellular service.

This, though, is beginning to change as developers who are ahead of the curve are installing DAS as standard into their high-yield sites. Take a look at our case study with Vodafone on The Shard – this is just one example. This trend started to gain traction in the U.S. last year and is now spreading into other regions as developers begin to realise cellular can be a great asset when they are trying to sell or let out their properties to business tenants.

Building-in DAS from the ground level

Cellular coverage is now seen by enterprises and their employees as being on the same level of importance as air conditioning and Wi-Fi, and enablement solutions need to be planned at the same early stage to ensure all areas of the site are able to access high enough provision to enable high-bandwidth IP services.

Although retro-fitting is the common method of DAS installation and indeed is entirely possible, installing at the point of construction is the ideal scenario as CPRI-based units, such as Cobham Wireless’ solution idDAS, can be configured to use the same wireless infrastructure as Wi-Fi and other IT infrastructure on the site. Making these initial investments can ensure infrastructure is aesthetically unobtrusive while simultaneously reducing CAPEX and OPEX costs.

Additionally, where idDAS is installed into inner-city areas, facilities managers are able to share deployment costs by taking advantage of its unique capacity shifting capabilities. This feature enables capacity to be dynamically moved between sites with complementary needs, allowing them to share the system and therefore the cost.

This is a fascinating trend we are set to see growing in prevalence this year as an increasing number of businesses see the value of including DAS technology within their commercial property portfolio.