The ABCs of BDAs: An Introductory Look | BearCom

Firefighter on StairsWhether you’re a building owner, property manager, or operations supervisor, it’s essential to have a dependable line of communications inside your facility. It’s also crucial for first responders to remain connected when they are in your structure dealing with an emergency. Many localities enforce ordinances that require uninterrupted wireless signal coverage for public safety two-way radio bands. For public safety and facility team communications, it is vital that the line of communication is never broken.

To learn more about BDA requirements for public safety, and also how these signal boosters can benefit daily operations for your team members who use two-way radios, BearCom created this guide.

We invite you to read through this article as an overview about the basics of BDAs. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance with BDA compliance.

Signal Boosters, Distributed Antennas, and Amplifiers: Defining BDAs

BDAs, or Bi-Directional Amplifiers, are signal boosters that sustain two-way radio communication throughout a facility. These amplifiers can be programmed to cover various two-way radio (and cellular) bands to boost and distribute a Radio Frequency (RF) signal in challenging environments.

Since older buildings are frequently built with thick concrete and steel beams, this type of construction can block wireless signals. Newer buildings often include glass and tighter designs for LEED compliance, which also inhibit signal strength.

The most reliable solution to sustain wireless coverage throughout a facility is to add a Bi-Directional Amplifier (or amplifiers) to your Distributed Antenna Systems in areas that tend to lose signal strength. BDAs boost signal to increase coverage and sustain reliable lines of communication.

What Does a BDA Solution Look Like?

A BDA system works in tandem with a Distributed Antenna System (DAS), and consists of three parts…

  • Donor antenna: Included in the DAS and mounted on a building’s roof to grab an existing signal from outside.
  • Distributed Antenna System (DAS): Group of RF antennas placed throughout a building to provide wireless signal throughout a structure.
  • BDA booster: Installed in a closet or other out-of-way place inside a structure to transmit signal into dead zones.

Note that in some buildings, a traditional two-way radio system repeater may be sufficient to maintain signal coverage.

Public Safety BDAs

A public safety BDA is an in-building signal booster using wireless technology or RF cabling that supplements the antenna system to distribute radio signals. Together, these components make it possible for first responder radio signals to cover the inside of the structure and also get into and out of the building.

Many localities in the United States enforce regulations that require wireless in-building coverage for first responders.

Public safety BDAs must:

  • Deliver in-building wireless signal coverage of 95 percent (International Fire Code) or 90 percent (National Fire Protection Association).
  • Under NFPA statutes, they must also provide 99 percent wireless coverage in critical areas such as exit stairs and passageways, fire pump rooms, and elevator lobbies.
  • Have -95 dB of minimum signal strength.
  • Operate under high heat, humidity, and chemical/water splash conditions.
  • Function up to 24 hours on a backup battery.
  • Meet all FCC installation and performance requirements.

How BDAs Benefit Day-to-Day Operations

In addition to meeting Public Safety requirements, many organizations choose to install BDAs to improve the range of their own UHF and VHF two-way radio systems. Many radios have challenges receiving and transmitting in equipment rooms, stairwells, garages, and other places with poor reception. Consequently, boosting radio signals into these isolated areas keeps workers connected, safe, and productive.

Learn More about BDA Systems

BDAs are key to ensuring a dependable line of communication. As a time-tested BDA provider, BearCom offers end-to-end solutions that ensure complete signal coverage. With more than 40 locations across North America, chances are we have an office near you.

For a FREE consultation or to request a site-walk, call the BearCompliance Hotline at 844.883.8904.

Or submit an inquiry today.



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