The 3 Types of DAS Signal Sources, & Their Pros & Cons


Data is increasingly being transmitted through almost every device we own, be them big or small. 

It is truly the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), especially with the rise of the fifth generation of mobile networks (5G). 

With that in mind, every device that can send and receive data is fitted with a transmitter that can move signal sources at different speeds. 

Enter distributed antenna systems (DAS) that play an ever-increasing role in our endeavor into a more connected world. 

Accordingly, there are three types of DAS signal sources that everyone should know: 

1- Off-Air Antennas

2- On-Site Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) 

3- Small Cells 

According to our experts, each of the three works to receive signals from mobile carriers, but have their own pros and cons.

Let’s jump right.

Off-Air Antennas 

Off-air DAS utilize an antenna situated at the top of a building to bounce signals from a telco provider. 

The Pros

While the cheapest and fastest of the three, it is considered one of the best options to expand coverage within a single building especially since it connects to various operators at once. 

The Cons

One of Off-Air Antenna’s Achilles heel is that it’s performance relies on signal strength and quality as well as congestion. 

In parallel, they require agreements to be set between carriers before roll out, and show difficulty in optimization when geared to numerous operators. 

Base Transceiver Stations (BTS)

When it comes to On-site Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), NodeB, and eNodeB signal sources work the same in comparison to regular cell towers. 

BTS usually links up via fiber optic cables to a telco’s core network, away from enterprise IT infrastructure that might have been pre-installed. Sometimes, multiple BTS systems are deployed to receive signals from different carriers. 

The Pros

Performance is top of mind here, especially since it includes an extra layer of capacity for high-occupancy districts that might contains stadiums, airports, or venues. 

The Cons

The priciest of the bunch, BTS systems are considered the slowest when looking to install since providers need to provide their own dedicated cables to run signals through. In parallel, they require bigger space, more cooling, and consume more power which would result in higher expenses across the board. 

Small Cells

Used as an alternative form of DAS, small cells are used as signal sources for these systems. 

They work to provide safe tunnels back to networks through the Internet to create a high-quality wireless signal. Small cells are rolled out for public mobile networks through indoor areas. 

The Pros

Considered cheaper and much faster to install than their BTS counterparts, they have the ability to create excellent quality wireless signals for dense structures.

The Cons

The problem here is its availability since not all telcos tend to offer small cells. In parallel, they require backhaul internet connections, since they are difficult to expand for even more users in large areas. 

Want to discover more about our DAS systems and which ones work where reach out to us directly!