How to spot contenders vs pretenders when it comes to DAS Integrators?

I recently had a discussion with Jim Muzynoski, who manages our DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) business sales team. The following series of posts are excerpts of our conversation. The conversation revolves around the requirement for Emergency Responder Radio Coverage in buildings (International Fire Code ICC Section 510) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 72).  DAS systems along with signal boosters are used to provide first responder/public safety radio coverage in buildings and other structures.

Part 3 of 3

What do you look for in a DAS integrator to show that they are a contender?

The first thing is certifications with the manufacturers. Are they certified installers of Commscope, or Solid, or TE or Corning, or any of the manufacturers that we represent? If you have certified technicians and engineering staff for these manufacturers it shows that you are a legitimate integrator. Do you actually have a design team that can design these systems? In many cases there are companies out there that are just guessing where to put the indoor antennas. They might be able to get away with it on a couple of projects but in the long run, those systems are not going to work and be balanced, optimized systems.

Along with the design team, do they have the design software? The industry standard is IBWave. If you have an integrator that has IBWave, they are a legitimate company. Having general radio license GROL, a lot of the guys out there are not radio technicians and were dealing with public safety radio enhancement systems. So you want an integrator that actually knows radio frequencies and public safety radio frequencies and not just the carriers.

We carry spectrum analyzers, we carry Anritsu’s which analyze frequencies and strength of signal of these signals from VHF to 2700 mhz so we can handle all spectrum. We also have PIM testers as well, it shows what interference you may potentially run into based on the different frequency bands you are amplifying. PIM testers are usually used in cellular deployments. That gear is expensive gear and it’s definitely a differentiator between legitimate companies and ones that might fly by night.

Day Wireless is public safety radio focused. We have relationships with all of these public safety radio agencies. Because of that if we were to turn up a system and the system were to have a negative effect on the overall wide area network, the customer would actually end up calling Day Wireless to fix the wide area network. So we actually have a vested interest in making these systems work because we would be the ones fixing it locally at the amp, but also at the wide area network level as well. Because of that, we are different than most of our competition.

What happens when you cause interference on a public safety radio system?

If there is significant interference, the public safety radio system on the wide area network will actually not work. Police and Fire will actually try to key up their radios and they won’t be able to talk to dispatch or each other. If there is an emergency situation, they would have no way to communicate. And those types of situations we want to avoid at all costs. For companies that don’t know what it’s like for those guys and don’t live in that world everyday they are not necessarily concerned with that. Whereas that’s all we’re concerned about. We want to make sure there is none of that at any time. And the fines for that type of things can be pretty extensive as well. The FCC can charge you thousands of dollars per day. So there’s definitely reports of issues and if you don’t immediately fix them the FCC will drop the hammer.

Want to learn more about DAS? Check out the rest of our interview with  Jim Muzynoski, manager of our DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) business sales team. 

Part 1: How Much Does a DAS Cost?

Part 2: What is the Biggest Mistake Customers Make When Buying or Installing a DAS Solution?

XPR6350 Fire Sale Pricing!

Day Wireless has purchased Motorola’s remaining inventory of MOTOTRBO XPR6350 UHF radios and is offering them at fire sale prices. These radios were discontinued on April 30, 2015, but will be supported for Motorola service through May 30, 2020. This is a great option for customers who currently have the XPR 6350 and would like to stock up at a cheap price. Motorola’s recommended replacement product for the XPR 6350 is the XPR 7350.

 

CALL FOR SPECIAL PRICING! 800-503-3433

Brand new units

XPR 6350 – AAH55QDC9LA1

403-470 MHz, Non Display w/GPS, 1-4W, 32 Channels

Package includes:

  • IMPRES™ Li ion 2150mAh Battery (PMNN4077)
  • IMPRES™ Single Unit Charger (WPLN4232)
  • UHF GPS Antenna
  • 2.5″ Belt Clip (PMLN4652)
  • Accessory Dust Cover
  • Two Year Warranty
  • One Year Repair Service Advantage

What is the biggest mistake that customers make when buying/putting in a DAS?

I recently had a discussion with Jim Muzynoski, who manages our DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) business sales team. The following series of posts are excerpts of our conversation. The conversation revolves around the requirement for Emergency Responder Radio Coverage in buildings (International Fire Code ICC Section 510) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 72).  DAS systems along with signal boosters are used to provide first responder/public safety radio coverage in buildings and other structures.

Part 2 of 3

When a customer is building a new building, they put out a bid to a bunch of electrical contractors and the public safety DAS is in the scope and integrators end up bidding on the DAS portion. Often times, the DAS is viewed as something that might not be a mandatory item in the project. So it ends up being taken out of the scope and they’ll say they’ll do a change order if we need to later. Then they don’t plan for it, and forget about it as construction goes along and then at the last minute the fire marshal will come in and say they need a DAS. What that does is it drastically raises the cost because electricals need to run the cable, it’s very difficult to run cable on an already built building. Lead times are long on this equipment. It costs the contractors a lot of money because they can’t close out the project. And it causes a lot of stress on the deal because you’re rushing through this project when you’ve had years to work on it. So the most important thing is when it is in the scope, keep it in the scope. Plan for those costs because they are necessary. The fire marshal will demand that it goes in. Even if they are not mentioning it now doesn’t mean they won’t remember it at the last minute because it is a hot button issue.

One example, we just had a project in LA where the customer started the project in 2012. He hadn’t thought about the DAS since even though it was in the scope in the beginning. They took it out of the scope and didn’t think about it, three years later literally the day before occupancy the fire marshal comes in and says you need a DAS system. The owner ended up having to pay extravagant fees because they could not occupy the building until the DAS system was put up and it took about 6 weeks to get the system in because it takes a long time to get specific amplifiers in low frequency bands such as VHF and UHF. In that case it probably cost the guy a couple extra hundred thousand dollars just because he waited when he could have planned up front. We run into this sort of situation, it seems like almost every day.

Want to learn more about DAS? Check out the rest of our interview with  Jim Muzynoski, manager of our DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) business sales team. 

Part 1: How Much Does a DAS System Cost?

Part 3: How to Spot Contenders vs Pretenders When It Comes To DAS Integrators? 

How much does a DAS system cost?

I recently had a discussion with Jim Muzynoski, who manages our DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) business sales team. The following series of posts are excerpts of our conversation. Our conversation revolves around the requirement for Emergency Responder Radio Coverage in buildings (International Fire Code ICC Section 510) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 72).  DAS systems along with signal boosters are used to provide first responder/public safety radio coverage in buildings and other structures.

Part 1 of 3

How much does a DAS cost? What are the things to consider when pricing out a DAS system?

DAS (Distributed Antenna System) costs depend on a few different things. The first thing is the frequency range whether it is VHF, UHF, or 700-800 MHz public safety. Cost is going to vary based on the frequency; if it is all of the above it is going to be much more expensive than just one of those frequency bands. 700-800 frequencies are usually the easiest to do therefore it is usually the least expensive. VHF/UHF is more complex and it’s going to raise the cost. And if you need cellular frequencies obviously that’s also going to raise the cost. It’ll rise significantly if you need to get the 4 carriers involved.

How would I know what frequencies I need to amplify when it comes to Emergency Radio Coverage?

That’ll be based on each city or AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). If you are in the City of Portland they have a radio system and would have certain guidelines and frequencies. If you go out to the Beaverton or Hillsboro (Oregon) area it is going to be a completely different radio system. Completely different frequencies. As a DAS integrator what we do is know the frequencies and fire code for the different cities and jurisdictions.

What about the building type? Do you see different complexities in say, condos vs a hospital?

There are a lot of variances with buildings. That’s definitely another factor that determines price. If you are dealing with a wood structure with regular windows (non-low-E) you might not need a DAS because the radio signal can penetrate very easily. But if you have concrete or steel or brick along with low-e windows it’s basically shielding the inside from the building from ever receiving radio signal. So you are definitely going to need a system for that. If you have underground parking in a structure you are definitely going to need a system.

You brought up something interesting in that you may not need a DAS system. So what would the process be like under this scenario… I’m breaking ground on a building and emergency radio coverage is in the fire code, but I don’t know if I’ll need a DAS or not. What is the process like in order to test if a DAS is needed?

Basically it’s almost impossible to test on greenfield new construction. Because most fire code says new construction 50,000sf or more needs a system if coverage isn’t already there, that’s what’s driving the test. As the building is being built, once the walls are in, the windows and ceilings, we’ll do a preliminary test to see what the coverage is in the building. And they have to meet certain radio signal standards. Which is -95 db for 90% of the building. 99% of all stairwells and elevators, critical areas. We’ll go in and do a 20 or 40 grid test, breaking each floor into even squares and test signal strength in those squares and we’ll see if it meets the criteria for fire code or not. If it doesn’t then it will need a system. If it does then you are good to go. We can provide you a certification to give to the fire marshal.

What would be the first step for someone interested in learning more about DAS?

If you don’t know what you need the first part of it is calling an integrator and seeing whether you need a system or not. That test is going to decide everything. A lot of times we’ll be able to tell you right upfront if there’s underground parking, there’s not going to be any coverage down there. That’s a guaranteed system that is needed. Or we would come out and do some testing to see exactly where you would need a system and we would design accordingly. So the first thing would be to contact an integrator and figure out what to look for and we can basically do a design and put you in a spot where you are not worrying about putting a system in at the last moment because that will raises cost as well.

A big thing we run into often with construction companies is that they’ll wait until the last minute to do a DAS system because they think they won’t need it, or it won’t be enforced by the AHJ. And then it’ll be the day before occupancy and the fire marshal will say “Where’s your DAS?” and then you’ll be in trouble. If you end up doing that and running that risk, that’s a costly risk because in most cases you’ll need cat & cable pathways and a lot of times you have hard lid ceiling it’s not an easy thing to do once the ceilings are up. It’s better to put these systems in while planning for them up front than to ignore it and hope it goes away, and then pay for it in the end because the install costs are dramatically more if you have to cut through hard lid ceiling as opposed to putting it in before the ceilings go up.

Typically if you are looking at DAS systems can you comfortably throw out a price per square foot based on different categories?

It really does wildly depend. If you gave me a specific jurisdiction where I knew the frequencies and I know the building type I could tell you.

For instance in Portland, OR a low-e glass, steel structure, 100,000 sf I would probably budget about a buck a square foot for public safety.

That same 100,000 sf building in San Jose might be $200,000 for that same building. If you add cellular it could be $400,000. So it can really go from 50¢ per square foot up to $5.00 per square foot depending on all these different factors.

Want to learn more about DAS? Check out the rest of our interview with  Jim Muzynoski, manager of our DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) business sales team. 

Part 2: What is the Biggest Mistake Customers Make When Buying or Installing a DAS System?

Part 3: How to Spot Contenders vs Pretenders When It Comes To DAS Integrators?