Can I upgrade my DAS system to 5G?
Can an existing DAS deployment be upgraded to 5G?
Now that 5G connectivity is becoming the new norm, many are rushing to upgrade existing wireless systems for a faster, more secure connection. But when it comes to a DAS system, is upgrading to 5G a good idea, and if so, is it possible?
Does it involve uprooting your whole wireless system and replacing it, or is it an option to upgrade to 5G while keeping your installations as they are?
The more knowledge you have regarding 5G DAS systems, the easier it will be to make informed decisions regarding whether to upgrade your existing DAS system or invest in building a new one entirely.
What’s 5G DAS and why is it better to use it?
5G connection, also sometimes called “New Radio” or NR, is revolutionizing in-building coverage by providing higher data speeds, massive network capacity, lower latency, and greater bandwidth. To dive into specifics, let’s explore the three different frequency ranges that 5G comes in:
- Low-band 5G: These installations have the lowest frequencies (under 1 GHz). They travel the farthest and are mostly used to achieve coverage in rural areas, but they also have limited capacity.
- Mid-band 5G: this range includes frequencies from 1 GHz to 6 GHz. It’s used to provide both coverage and capacity in urban and suburban areas.
- Millimeter wave (mm Wave) 5G: These very high frequency signals (20 GHz) offer huge capacity and speeds, but with limited coverage. However, each cell covers just a few hundred feet, and deployments have been mostly limited to urban areas.
Now, when it comes to DAS systems, the bandwidth range will depend on the needs of your building. DAS systems are necessary as they bring cellular coverage to areas where the signal from outdoor 5G cell towers simply can’t reach, as the signal simply isn’t strong enough.
DAS deployments are the only reason you can make calls when you’re on the 40th floor of a skyscraper, deep in the corridors of a hospital, or in an underground parking garage. So, in order to make sure you have flawless connectivity, you need to find the 5G bandwidth that works for you.
When upgrading to 5G, to find the best combination of price, coverage, and performance for your specific needs, we suggest you hire professionals who can properly assess your connectivity needs and recommend the 5G range that best works for you.
Does 5G Require Additional DAS Infrastructure Development?
The short answer is: usually, yes.
It is very important that not only common areas, but all known dead zones within a given building are able to receive a signal.
In a nutshell, 5G uses different wavelengths than 4G, so whether you need to upgrade your existing DAS infrastructure or replace the system entirely depends on the specifics of the installed equipment, and if it can accommodate 5G frequencies.
To better understand this, let’s get into specifics: you can upgrade your existing DAS if the 4G system installed is modular and the vendor has released modules to support new 5G frequencies.
A few non-modular off-air distributed antenna systems can be upgraded via software updates to support 5G on existing frequency bands. However, these systems will not support newer 5G bands unless the original equipment supports those frequencies.
Difficulties of upgrading existing DAS systems to accommodate 5G
When implemented correctly, 5G can work as well indoors as 4G LTE, but there are various challenges that you need to be aware of.
For example, certain building materials such as metal, concrete, and glass interfere with cell towers and prevent signals from penetrating venues. Low-emissivity (low-E) glass, a building material used in newer buildings, LEEDs, and Green Building initiatives, also interfere with radio frequency (RF) signals.
5G is often deployed on higher frequencies that are attenuated even more than their 3G and 4G predecessors. That makes the indoor coverage problem for 5G more acute. Fortunately, this is specifically the problem that a DAS system exists to address.
So, can I / should I upgrade to 5G?
From a financial and performance perspective, to upgrade your DAS system to 5G, it may make more sense to replace a DAS system even if the option to upgrade an existing system is available.
The right systems integrator will work with you to choose the solution that best fits the unique connectivity requirements of your facility to ensure a successful deployment.
Therefore, we recommend getting in touch with us to assess your existing DAS system and recommend the best solution for your 5G upgrade.