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Signal Boosters vs Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS)

Aug 17, 2016

There are many property managers and business owners out there who're struggling with less-than-perfect cell phone, wi-fi, and HDTV reception (and in some cases a complete lack of service) in their buildings. These people are searching for solutions to this frustrating problem. If you’re a business manager or owner looking for a technological solution to enhance the weak wireless signals in your business complex, neighbourhood, or even the floor of your particular building, your research will show that you have two options.

  • Signal Boosters.

Today we’re seeing the installation of freestanding Signal Boosters as an easy-to-install and popular solution for low signal environments within business premises. These solutions range from small residential grade systems right through to large high-power commercial systems which can cater to an entire building. They can boost cell phone, wi-fi, and HDTV reception simultaneously. For example, SureCall Fusion 7 Signal Booster is an amplifier kit that enhances both cellular and Wi-Fi reception up to 20,000 square feet and provides over-the-air HDTV connectivity.

  • DAS Systems.

An alternative to a signal booster is the more complex technology known as DAS, which stands for Distributed Antenna System. This is an integration of an extensive system of linked antennas into a commercial space, such as a hospital, hotel, or workplace. A DAS will provide full-strength reception in areas where it is extremely difficult to get a cell phone signal, such as subterranean subway platforms.

The first difference between these two solutions is price where DAS costs a whole lot more than signal boosters.

The second difference is that some signal boosters that we carry can not only boost cellular signal, but also broadband wi-fi, as well as HDTV signals, whereas DAS would only boost cellular signals despite its higher cost.

Below we have listed a brief review of these two systems, and provided some information to help you make an informed decision on the technology you believe will best suit your situation, and your budget.

Ease of Installation.

  • Signal Boosters.

For simple installation and operation, a freestanding signal booster system allows you to immediately add full bar service to commercial environments where environmental interference, building materials, or simply the distance from carrier towers have resulted in reduced (or no) cellular voice and data signal. Home cell phone signal booster systems are so simple that customers can set them up themselves, just like they would a Wi-Fi router or a TV cable box. It is recommended that commercial grade boosters be installed by a professional, but the process is still quite simple and requires minimal cable, wiring, and modifications. And, of course, the bonus with signal boosters are that they are carrier-agnostic, which means that your employees and customers will have equal access to all the cell phone carriers available in your area.

  • DAS Systems.

On the other hand, DAS systems are dedicated solutions that tie into a workplace’s electronic infrastructure, permanently. Fibre-optic or cable lines are used to link the various antennas on different floors with certain areas of an office. Permanent connections are made with the carriers themselves, and with utilities. Even after an expensive installation, this can sometimes lead to some cell users having no service at all because these connections can completely exclude companies with only a few towers or they may serve only single cell phone carriers. When DAS systems are factored into a new construction they can be the ideal solution, but they can become a complicated proposition when trying to retrofit into an existing building or installing them as an upgrade, and will certainly require the ongoing participation of various contractors.

Upgradability and Ease-Of-Use.

  • Signal Boosters.

Another bonus with signal booster antenna systems is that they’re virtually a plug-and-play solution. Their simple design provides easy access for upgrades and routine maintenance. Many of today’s signal solutions are able to automatically anticipate fluctuations in incoming signals, and the system will automatically compensate for these strong signals then turn back on when signals have reduced to a safe level. Generally, a signal booster system is much easier to use, maintain, and upgrade.

  • DAS Systems.

DAS systems require more technical support and expert maintenance in order to deal with signal distribution, power or carrier signal outages, and workplace adaptation, due to the fact that they are dedicated hardwired solutions. A DAS solution is a permanent solution, so if a company should decide to modify their workplace or move their operations entirely, technicians will be required to either re-run or remove the wiring and hardware that make up the system. Unfortunately, in many cases these systems are completely abandoned when a company changes locations, and their investment is lost.

Financial Outlay.

For many small businesses the most important factor determining which system to use is the factor of cost, and there’s definitely a huge difference in cost between these two systems. Generally, a freestanding signal booster system can be bought, installed, and operated for just 10% of the cost of a DAS system! That is certainly a major difference in cost, particularly when it is only a small company trying to guarantee phone and data access to people within its commercial space.

In Conclusion.

Therefore, for smaller companies who have been searching for an effective but simple solution to improve incoming and outgoing cell phone signals, thereby boosting data speed and increasing voice quality, the affordable solution could well be a Signal Boosting system - it is certainly a reliable alternative to an expensive DAS system.

If you’re interested in obtaining further information about's products that improve cell phone, WiFi, and HDTV reception in a commercial space, please contact us.

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  • Anyone who has questions about what a signal booster does and what a distributed antenna system does should read this over. While both systems increase your cell phone signal, there are a number of differences (and I’m not just talking about the price).

    Michelle Rose on
  • Bruce, your question “What are the best places to buy mobile signal boosters?” is important because there are a number of cell phone boosters available and while the technology has become more common, there is still a tremendous amount of misinformation about them. If you can, do your homework before you buy one. For example, I learned a lot from this website. You can probably check out trade magazines (and their sites) and ask around. Wherever you go, make sure the salespeople know how they operate, what your needs are, and what the regulations are (my understanding is you just have to contact your cell phone company). It’s important the salesperson knows what they’re doing. Here’s an example. Boosters are designed based on home (or apartment) size so you don’t want to buy one bigger than your square footage (why pay extra?). Personally, I’d avoid big box stores and go someplace that focuses on selling sells cell phone boosters, whether it’s an online store or a brick and mortar store. Also, make sure you get warranties and ask about a money-back guarantee. You may purchase it and decide it’s not for you.

    Jake Orlando on
  • Thanks for explaining the differences between cell phone signal boosters and DAS. Can you answer me this? What are the best places to buy mobile signal boosters?

    Bruce Norris on
  • I know there are circumstances where you’ll need DAS bu a plain cell phone signal booster seems to be what I’m looking for. I just want my cell phone’s signal to work at its most effective rate. I want a strong signal so I don’t lose important calls. A signal booster seems to be the right device for me.

    Ralph W. on
  • This article shows the real differences between cell signal boosters and DAS. I am glad is upfront with the costs and capabilities of each system. Other sites might try to gloss over the differences and make you pay for something that isn’t the right fit. That’s a rare thing today.

    Michael Rickard on

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