How Much Does a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) in the UK Cost?
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Many complex buildings and densely populated indoor spaces require urgent indoor Distributed Antenna System (DAS) intervention for fast and widespread network coverage. Having deployed over 200+ DAS in buildings of different sizes, we know that pricing is one of the most important considerations. The cost of an indoor DAS system varies depending on the size of the building, location, frequency, and many more factors.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything about DAS system costs. We've summarised the basics, from the types of indoor DAS you can shop for and factors influencing its pricing to how to calculate deployment costs. We’ll also feature tips on how to get a high-performing DAS and not to overpay for it. Let’s hit the ground running!
5 Things to Know Before Deploying a DAS System
A Distributed Antenna System, or DAS, is a network of separated antennas connected to a common signal source. A good DAS boosts, distributes, and re-broadcasts signals through the building, improving coverage and data speeds in certain areas. But, before putting money down on the table, consider these influencing factors every potential distributed antenna system customer must know:
1. Passive vs Active DAS
Passive and active DAS share similar goals of improving coverage in enclosed spaces. But even then, they have several differences that you should absolutely consider when shopping for an indoor DAS.
Active DAS improves an external signal with amplifiers and then broadcasts it to internal active antennas throughout the building. This solution is used for large enterprise buildings over 500,000 square feet.
- Limitless coverage area
- Easy to scale
- Best-in-class mobile coverage
- Costlier than passive DAS
- Require more power
- Longer deployment time
Passive DAS is your best bet if you need 5G, 4G, and 3G wireless coverage for specific spots or buildings about 100,00 sq ft. This system is based on passive components, like coaxial cables, splitters, and antennas, meaning that the signal is just rebroadcasted without active amplification.
- Cheapest coverage option
- Can be deployed in weeks
- Easy to maintain
- No extra equipment needed
- Requires strong external signal
- Provides only spot coverage
- Requires specific link budget
Note: You can also install a hybrid DAS. As the name implies, hybrid DAS combines both active and passive DAS features.
2. Building Features
It’s important to note the characteristics of the building that need DAS coverage:
- How big is the building?
- Is it an estate or organisation with multiple buildings?
- Are there basements and underground parking structures?
Answering these questions will help you make informed decisions about the DAS type to opt for. You also need to figure out if there are any internal RF factors such as ceiling type, internal wall makeup, and other variables.
3. Spot Coverage vs Whole Building Coverage
Coverage is an important influencing factor when considering DAS installation costs. You must determine if you need coverage for a particular spot or for the entire building. Passive distributed antenna systems offer spot coverage for small buildings, office spaces, stores, flats, and condo buildings. Active DAS system prices are higher, compensating for its limitless coverage.
4. Deployment Time
Indoor DAS deployment is simply the time it takes to plan and install a distribution antenna system. The building size, location, coverage, and DAS type, as well as your deployment team, will determine the time it takes to set the system up and running. Even small factors like travel distance have a role to play here. Everything being equal, passive DAS can be deployed in a matter of weeks, while most active DAS equipment installation will take months to complete.
5. Subscriber Density
Subscriber density describes the number of mobile subscribers by population. Knowing the proposed number of subscribers informs you and your DAS experts on how strong the signal should be to satisfy every user's need. It gives you a vantage ground on the type of DAS to use. For instance, in the UK, where 5G cell towers are scarce, building a 5G passive indoor DAS in a location with high subscriber density and the nearest mast being several miles away is not a good idea.
For everyone planning to deploy an indoor DAS system, cost implications are usually top of mind. At UCtel, the first questions we get are ‘How much does a DAS system cost?’ and ‘What is the cost of installing a DAS system from scratch?’ The short answer is – it depends. Let’s dissect the variables involved in determining the price of the distributed antenna system.
What Factors Influence the Cost of DAS System
There are several crucial points that impact the price of installing a distributed antenna system:
1. Building Type
The size of a building affects the cost of end-to-end DAS system installation. Bigger buildings take up more cables, antennas, and equipment, which translates to more money. As a rule, every 250K sq ft in a building requires more infrastructural DAS components to support them, thereby increasing costs in folds.
Additionally, if your building is made of signal-blocking materials or is partially or entirely located underground (e.g., car park), it will also require additional antennas to remove all the dead zones.
2. New DAS Installation vs DAS Upgrade
If you already have an existing DAS equipment and are considering an upgrade, you can take the leap. However, it may be a more expensive option. For instance, upgrading from 4G DAS to 5G DAS will have many tearing downs and new installations going on. This is because most 4G DAS modules aren’t compatible with 5G frequencies. We recommend speaking with a reliable DAS installation team for more specific advice.
3. Frequency Band of Choice
The frequency band impacts the final DAS system cost, as they would require special hardware tech that supports them. For instance, best-in-class 5G frequencies need specific high-end DAS equipment that runs into thousands of pounds. Alternatively, you can save a significant sum if you opt for a slower yet more available 4G-compatible solution.
4. Vendor Selection
This might be obvious, but different DAS experts will influence the total distributed antenna system cost. Yet, you shouldn't immediately settle for the cheapest choice on the market. The price usually correlates with the level of expertise and technologies they use.
Cost-Effective Tips for Deploying the Best DAS Solution
To save you a little money, we’ve gathered a few useful tips on how to save on DAS installation and maintenance:
Tip 1: The most important advice is to choose your DAS type correctly.
Active distributed antenna system cost per square foot is quite expensive, with each sq. ft. ranging from £1 to £3 for a single network carrier. Multi-network coverage can go as high as £10 per square foot to accommodate the cost of the DAS components and installation. For instance, the cost of deploying an indoor DAS for a 250,000 sq. ft. building can range between £300,000 and £800,000 for one network provider and about £2 million for a multi-carrier system.
Installing an active DAS is like deploying a private cell tower, and from a profit perspective, we recommend ensuring the building or venue will attract enormous crowds before making such investments. Otherwise, we say start with the significantly cheaper passive DAS solution, which you can upscale later if the need arises.
The passive distributed antenna system is an affordable solution, costing less than £1 per sq ft. So, covering a 250,000 sq. ft. building would cost about £50k to £200k, including equipment and installation. Generally, most corporate buildings in the UK are less than 30,000 sq. ft., and the estimated cost of the DAS system is between £6,500 and £30,000.
Tip 2: Avoid delays and save money by ensuring the DAS installation team surveys and benchmarks the coverage area before giving you a quote.
Tip 3: Depending on your business, deploying DAS coverage for specific areas in your building may make more financial sense. For example, in hotels, it makes sense to provide stable mobile coverage in public lobbies or dining areas, while in rooms, rely on a Wi-Fi network.
Tip 4: Opt for a transparent and flexible DAS system integrators that only answers the question ‘What is the DAS system cost?’ after tailoring the cost to your specific building and coverage needs. Blind cost estimates that may sometimes sound too good to be true is a red flag.
How Can UCtel Help?
UCtel is one of the leading and future-progressive DAS integrators in the UK. We offer world-class indoor DAS deployment, as well as voice, data, and private 5G network solutions to enhance the mobile signal in buildings. Our team boasts of telecom industry veterans with wide on-site experience and some of the most skilled indoor DAS installation teams in the UK.
We provide high-class network solutions and keep our process transparent every step of the way. Each DAS equipment we deploy is important, and there’s no room for empty boxes masked with upsells and sales jargon. Send in any questions and comments you may have, and our team will be honoured to share our expert advice.
On a final note, determining how much the cost of a DAS system is depends on the building’s complexities, vendor’s choice, and unique considerations. While the cost may vary, it’s possible to get a price range depending on your building type and location and a more customised quote after the survey.
DAS installation is complex, and it’s recommended to collaborate with a team that provides a transparent approach during the entire process. By working closely with our clients, our DAS experts can deliver a customised solution and ensure optimal indoor mobile boost in your building.