Study: Large corporations opting for DAS over small cells, Wi-Fi

ABI Research contends that there is "a fierce battle raging" between distributed antenna systems (DAS), Wi-Fi, and licensed small cells for coverage and capacity in enterprise wireless systems.

Jun 17th, 2013

ABI Research contends that there is "a fierce battle raging" between distributed antenna systems (DAS), Wi-Fi, and licensed small cells for coverage and capacity in enterprise wireless systems.

Each type of system has its strengths and weaknesses, notes the firm's new study, with active DAS systems emerging as the clear choice for large corporations (defined in the research as over 100,000 square feet and with more than 100 employees). Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are generally seen choosing between Wi-Fi and small cells.

According to ABI, there are two business models at play for DAS in large corporations: neutral-host or carrier-led. “Neutral hosts are increasingly popular for multi-tenant situations, since multi-carrier DAS systems can add value with either carrier-led, venue-led or third party business models,” says Nick Marshall, principal analyst with ABI Research.

The research postulates that today, adding Wi-Fi is an attractive option for businesses, since these systems are probably the lowest cost to deploy; however, there is a risk of interference because the systems operate on unlicensed frequencies. However, with the promise of Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) well under way, and many vendors including Wi-Fi in their equipment, Wi-Fi is becoming an essential part of the HetNet of the future, says the study.

The study adds that small cells are now emerging as a viable alternative for enterprise coverage, being less costly than DAS systems and much faster to deploy. “Unlike DAS, each small cell is a base station or eNodeB and adds capacity directly where it is required,” continues ABI's Marshall.

The findings come from a report entitled “The Battle for Enterprise Coverage – DAS, Wi-Fi, and Small Cells”, which discusses this market and profiles 30 companies active in this area, and is part of ABI Research’s Enterprise and Consumer Femtocells and In-Building Wireless Research services.

More: Cost comparison: Small cells vs. Carrier Wi-Fi, DAS , repeaters

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