BDA and DAS Installations & Requirements | BearCom

Without proper communications, your work teams cannot stay connected, productive, or safe. A lack of communication also compromises guest and visitor safety. And, just as important, legal statutes in many jurisdictions require stringent in-building two-way radio signal coverage for Public Safety first responders.

Signal boosters need to be deployed that deliver complete wireless coverage. But what does that installation process look like?

To help answer that question, BearCom will describe the process of properly installing high-performance signal boosters. In addition, we will explain legal requirements designed to ensure that communication system coverage is fully compliant. By the end, you will be prepared to begin your DAS and BDA planning process.

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

Deployment Process

There are many things to consider when installing a DAS/BDA system. That’s why 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 directional one aimed toward the donor site and another set distributing signal throughout the building. To ensure maximum signal input, the donor antenna should be line-of-sight to the donor source, while the distribution antenna(s) should be as close to the service areas as possible.

Where they are needed, BDAs should to 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

To meet Public Safety statutes that require adequate communication signal strength for first responder teams during an emergency, 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 95 percent in-building wireless signal coverage with a minimum signal strength of -95 dB. NFPA 72 Chapter 24 code states that 90 percent of in-building coverage is mandatory. However, the requirement jumps to 99 percent for critical areas such as elevator lobbies, exit stairs and passageways, and fire pump rooms.

Furthermore, public safety BDAs need to work under high heat and high humidity, while being able to function on a backup battery for 12-24 hours (depending on code requirements).

On top of that, all equipment supporting the public safety network should be housed in NEMA 4 compliant enclosures. These enclosures are constructed to withstand direct water spray from a fire hose, while also providing protection against rain, sleet, snow, and solid objects such as falling dirt or windblown dust.

Contact BearCom for More Information

As you can see, DAS and BDA systems must be installed by an experienced wireless solutions provider to meet performance needs, as well as complex and stringent compliance requirements. BearCom has vast levels of experience designing and deploying DAS/BDA systems in just about every sector.

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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