Regardless of who they plan to vote for in November, engineers in AT&T’s antenna solutions and DAS group have enjoyed watching this week’s Democratic National Convention. When the Democrats made a last-minute decision to move the President’s acceptance speech to Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena, AT&T knew that the 15,000 people inside would be relying on its network to share the speech and their own reactions to it with the rest of the world. And they were excited about the new technology that would be there to support them: the first-ever mobile distributed antenna system.
“It was literally a concept on the back of a napkin in April,” says Paula Doublin of AT&T’s antenna solutions and DAS group. “Since then it’s come through full tech specs and been built and deployed.” AT&T calls its mobile distributed antenna system a DOW – DAS on Wheels. “It’s fully self-contained .. complete with an RF source,” says Doublin. She adds that the Democratic National Convention is the DOW’s “debut,” and says she is sure AT&T will find improvements to make for the next version.
Distributed antenna systems increase both the coverage and capacity of cellular networks, but they typically are planned and deployed over several months. The development of a portable DAS system “allows us to deploy a very, very robust network in days if not hours,” says Doublin. Clearly, the technology has major implications for public safety systems and first responders.
The DOW is transported on a 22-foot container truck similar to those used by movers. AT&T has not released pictures yet because of the tight security at the convention.