Reaching further with mobile signals
With its ZoneDAS solution, Zyxel is making it possible for mobile phone signals to be extended right across a building or campus that would otherwise be difficult and costly to cover in its entirety, as Patrick Hirscher, EMEA Wireless Market Development Manager, explains.
Mobile phones are an essential part of modern life. If we can’t get a good signal when we have an important call to make, or need to send or pick up a message, it can be very frustrating. It can be even more infuriating when we are in places where we might assume that there would be a good signal, but we can’t get one.
This is often the case in places like hotels, hospitals, large college campuses or shopping malls, where the structure of buildings can obstruct signals from the base station mast. This can happen even when the mast is quite nearby.
Our reliance on mobile cellular technology is also extending to other areas. There are a growing number of electric cars on Europe roads now. The refuelling points for these vehicles at service stations are, you may have noticed, usually located in an open area and often close to the exit – even if this might not be the ideal place for them as far as the motorist is concerned.
This is because they are connected to central monitoring and control systems via LTE. Without a good signal, they can’t work, so they have to be positioned where there is a strong and reliable signal. You could not place them inside a secure, covered car park, for example.
Zyxel has come up with a solution to solve the problem of not being able to connect to the cellular network inside a building, or other zones where mobile signals can’t reach everywhere, called ZoneDAS. The name quite neatly describes that the product does – it’s designed to give you good mobile phone coverage over a specific area, hence ‘Zone’; while ‘DAS’ stands for distributed antenna system – the technology that makes it possible.
The ZoneDAS system consists of an antenna that is located on top of a building to provide a good line-of-sight to the mobile mast. This is connected to the ZoneDAS base station, which acts as a hub for a set of radio signal repeaters that are deployed around the building or campus to provide a clear mobile signal to all areas.
Up to eight repeater devices can be connected to the base unit and importantly, this can be done using inexpensive CAT5 cabling. This keeps the cost of deploying ZoneDAS down considerably. Other DAS systems available use much more expensive and difficult to install CAT6 or CAT7 cabling. Also, ZoneDAS supports Power over Ethernet, so the whole set-up can be powered through a single AC source.
One additional feature worth mentioning is that the repeaters used a symmetric form of connection that guarantees good end-to-end signal quality between devices. This assures good quality reception and provides additional reach for each repeater, which means a larger area can be covered.
Using a single ZoneDAS, it’s possible to provide mobile phone coverage in buildings of up to 40,000 square meters – that’s about the size of six football pitches. You can deploy more than one ZoneDAS if you need to cover a larger area. It has been tested with all major operators and will support all 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE signals. Support for 5G will come later. The repeater devices are small and designed to blend into the interior décor. They can easily be mounted on a wall or ceiling.
ZoneDAS was originally developed by Zyxel for use by mobile phone service providers who wanted to overcome the problem of signals being lost within large buildings. It’s been popular with them and we are now also making ZoneDAS available to all our customers through Zyxel partners. We’re doing this because there a need for it – and if our customers have a need that we can fulfil, Zyxel will always do its best to deliver a great solution.
It is quite easy and inexpensive to install ZoneDAS. The partner will carry out a signal test and Zyxel will tailor the ZoneDAS devices to suit each installation. ZoneDAS also comes with a web-based monitoring tools that enables the user administrator to see how connections are performing and make adjustments as required.
In ZoneDAS we believe we have a very good solution indeed to the problem of providing good mobile signals within large buildings in which otherwise, it’s difficult to get reception. If you’d like to know more, just get in contact with your nearest Zyxel partner.