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What is the main difference between Active DAS and Passive DAS?

Apr 20, 2018

Two types of Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and their differences.

A DAS, which stands for Distributed Antenna Systems uses various components to provide signal inside of a home, office or commercial building. Some of these components require power to function and others don't. This is the main difference between active and passive systems. Let us examine the remaining differences between both systems we call passive & active DAS.

Active DAS.

Active DAS must use components that must have power. They often consist of fiber-optic cables and remote nodes. They also allow you to add capacity to a network by using a base station to generate signal strength and communicate directly with the carrier. This is why most active systems are carrier specific, utilizing a different base station for each carrier.

Since active DAS systems are more complex, the engineers, building managers, IT admins and others who manage this typically opt for a solution that will send them notifications, and allow them to make changes to the system remotely.

Passive DAS.

Passive DAS does not add capacity to the carrier's network because it utilizes available signal provided by outside cellular towers through what is called a donor antenna. Passive systems are most often referred to as signal boosters, and this type of DAS is typically carrier-neutral and uses components that don't use power like powered splitters, couplers and coaxial cable.

Differences in installation cost and installation time for active vs passive DAS.

Active DAS Coverage For 250,000 square feet
Passive DAS Coverage For 250,000 square feet
Typical cost range:
$375,000 to $1,000,000
$87,500 to $150,000
Typical install time:
6 to 18 months
1 to 2 weeks

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3 comments

  • Distributed antenna systems seem like the option for buildings like sports stadiums, malls, and other places with all sorts of building materials and structural designs that reduce or kill cell phone signals. I didn’t know the difference between active das components and passive das components and didn’t realize the “active” referred to active power. Easy enough explanation thanks to your writer. That’s the difference between a technical writer and a hack.

    Harve Drake on
  • “I have heard of cell phone boosters though and want to know, how do Android signal boosters work?”
    Good question! Android signal boosters are for any Android phone. Here’s what usually happens. A person has their Android cell phone and they have trouble getting a strong signal, resulting in bad reception, dropped calls, or slow data (sometimes all three!). They wonder whether they should upgrade their phones but know people with newer models experiencing the same problem. Here’s why—your phone works based on picking up a signal from the cell tower. Factors can weaken the signal including long distances from the tower, weather, materials in a building, or just you trying to do a lot with your phone (such as running multiple apps while talking). An Android cell phone signal booster resolves this by strengthening the existing signal. It’s like supercharging the signal so your phone has the power it needs to operate properly. It won’t create a signal out of thin air, but it will boost any existing one.

    Roberto G. on
  • Never heard of DAS. I have heard of cell phone boosters though and want to know, how do Android signal boosters work?

    Garrett Stone on

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