BDA and DAS Installations & Requirements

Unstable communication compromises the safety, connectivity, and productivity of your workforce and clients. Additionally, many jurisdictions legally require stringent in-building two-way radio signal coverage for Public Safety responders. In order to stay within regulations, signal boosters must be deployed to deliver complete wireless coverage. To ensure your communication system coverage is fully compliant, we will outline the proper installation process of high-performance signal boosters and explain the legal requirements you must adhere to. We will prepare you to begin your DAS and BDA planning process.

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DAS and BDA Systems

In-building signal booster solutions typically include three key components:

  1. A donor antenna that is mounted on the roof to seize the wireless signal from the outside.
  2. A Distributed Antenna System (DAS), which is a group of antennas placed throughout the structure to boost signal coverage.
  3. Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDAs) that extend two-way radio coverage into difficult-to-reach areas, such as stairwells, underground hallways, tunnels, parking garages, and other challenging zones. (Depending on size, materials, and structural design, some buildings may not require a BDA or a standard two-way radio repeater may be sufficient.)

Many essential buildings benefit from BDAs, including hospitals, office buildings, schools, manufacturing plants, sports arenas, and more. Depending on the equipment and how it is installed and programmed, BDAs can improve team communications for facility staff who use two-way radio systems (usually VHF or UHF bands) and meet the law’s Public Safety radio coverage requirements (usually on the 450/700/800 MHz bands).

Deployment Process

Since there are numerous steps in properly installing a DAS/BDA system, many facilities and construction contractors turn to an experienced wireless provider for assistance. To determine proper solution design and placement, your provider may ask for floor plans and wiring schematics, as well as conduct a site-walk to measure radio signal strength and plan the system. Most DAS installations require two antennas: a donor antenna and distribution antennas. The donor antenna is directional, aimed towards the donor site and within line-of-sight to the donor source. The distribution antennas are dispersed throughout the building and should be placed close to service areas to ensure maximum signal input. Where they are needed, BDAs should be placed as close to the donor antenna as possible and point away from the donor site so they can deliver a clear signal throughout the facility.

Compliance Requirements

Public Safety statutes are put in place to provide adequate communication signal strength for first responders during emergencies. To meet those requirements, many municipal and state jurisdictions operate under codes that impact BDA and DAS installations. For example, many localities require high levels of in-building signal coverage to pass yearly fire marshal inspections or to earn Building Permits and Certificates of Occupancy during new construction projects. The two most commonly used statutes for wireless signal coverage are the International Fire Code (IFC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Several FCC regulations also impact wireless equipment installations. IFC-510 code requires a 95% in-building wireless signal coverage with a minimum signal strength of -95 dB. NFPA 72 Chapter 24 code states that 90% of in-building coverage is mandatory. However, the requirement jumps to 99% for critical areas, such as elevator lobbies, exit stairs and passageways, and fire pump rooms. Furthermore, Public Safety BDAs must operate under high heat and humidity, while also functioning on a backup battery for 12-24 hours (depending on code requirements). In addition, all equipment supporting the Public Safety network should be housed in NEMA 4 compliant enclosures. These enclosures are made to withstand direct water spray from a fire hose and protect against rain, sleet, snow, and solid objects, such as falling dirt or windblown dust.

The detailed installation steps and multitude of regulations you must follow to keep your business’s communication lines strong and legally compliant can be overwhelming. We believe in simplifying the process so you can easily and swiftly establish your team and customers’ safety. PCG is here to teach and guide you in installing your service systems and remaining within Public Safety requirements because we are committed to helping you bring connection back to communication.

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