How to Differentiate between DAS & Small Cells

Telecom Tech Outlook | Sunday, March 06, 2022

Small cells shares numerous similarities with DAS in power output, coverage regions, and size.

Fremont, CA: The use of 'small cells' to offer coverage and capacity indoors and outside is one of the recent innovation in the wireless industry. Small cell solutions are lauded for their potential to deliver higher radiodensity and enhanced capacity, whether implemented as standalone networks or integrated with the macro layer to build heterogeneous networks.

However, the industry is trying to define what a tiny cell is. The word often refers to femtocells, picocells, metro cells, or microcells, which vary in terms of technology and even the number of customers supported, among other factors. However, these solutions share many commonalities; that's why they get grouped as tiny cells.

The dispersed antenna system is another well-established technology that may also get termed a tiny cell (DAS). Small cells and DAS have numerous similarities in power output, coverage regions, and size, and DAS is known as the "original tiny cell."

However, there are substantial distinctions in how small cells and DAS work. A DAS is a point-to-multipoint system during which the DAS headend sends and receives the signals with all distant nodes within a particular sector simultaneously. It produces a single big cell by simulcasting radio channels throughout the facility instead of the network of separate cells typical of the many small cell systems. The DAS operator may modify each node's coverage and connectivity characteristics in response to changes mainly in the RF environment via centralized power management.

As a result, DAS & small cells have considerable functional, interference, capacity, complexity, and cost variations. The ability to accommodate numerous carriers is one of the most significant differences between DAS and femtocells, picocells, and microcells. Multiple operators can share DAS systems by connecting their base stations to the standard RF distribution system. Consequently, DAS enables carriers and property owners to reap the benefits of neutral host opportunities, where the capital expense is shared by all parties, making it more inexpensive.