In 2019, the BIPT published helpful guidelines for installing an M-O DAS. And while indoor coverage is much better now, we continue to hear from our members that it remains expensive, and that the relevant parties – i.e., the operators, installers and ASTRID network – are not aligned. Clearly, there is still work to be done.

Beltug is again collaborating on a joint initiative with several stakeholders – sector federations, the mobile operators, companies – and BIPT, on an M-O DAS portal to support organisations with the pre-design phase of implementing such a network. Any organisation can use it to investigate what they need to know about the set-up of an indoor mobile coverage system, what to expect and what is in the BIPT guidelines. We are also involved in reviewing the guidelines themselves.

Play your role: do you have expertise, an opinion or experience you can share? Send us an email with your comments.

Who needs the M-O DAS portal?

While some radio spectrum is free (like the one used by Wi-Fi), most is scarce, regulated and put at use at high prices. So, if you want to do something with the regulated mobile phone spectrum inside your building, you have to involve the regulator, BIPT and the operators that have bought the spectrum licences. In 2019, there were three operators; there are now four – Citymesh-Digi, Proximus, Orange and Telenet.

The portal is intended to facilitate coordination for organisations that are considering installing an M-O DAS, at an early point in their investigation: the Conceptual Pre-Design phase. It is aimed at those designing the buildings and those considering whether to put such a system in place.

On the portal, they can

  • make a first conceptual evaluation of the technical feasibility of an M-O DAS
  • explore the operators’ interest in sharing the DAS
  • get a first, ‘rough’ cost estimation

The M-O DAS portal and ASTRID

The portal needs to be reviewed based on the entry of the fourth operator, but also to improve the user experience. Organisations interested in providing indoor coverage are in many cases also obliged to provide coverage for the ASTRID network to ensure public safety communication in the building. Perhaps the portal can be used to file for an ASTRID application, too…

Reviewing the guidelines in the face of 5G

While there are discussions on how 5G influences indoor coverage in general, the review of the guidelines that has begun is not about the smaller wavelengths of the higher frequency bands that 5G uses, or about alternatives to Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS). Rather, the introduction of 5G provides a good opportunity to look at the guidelines in terms of real-life experiences, and improve them.

There are many interesting elements for the specialists to discuss, including:

  • Should there be a new role of ‘M-O DAS promotor’ acting as a kind of coordinator between the M-O DAS owner, contractor and operator?
  • While 5G technically could interfere with the ASTRID network, we also know that ASTRID is a reality for those using the guidelines. Shall it therefore be explicitly included in the guidelines?
  • Operators are the ones contacted when the M-O DAS system breaks down, but they highlight that M-O DAS owners need to ensure the maintenance. Operators suggested making a maintenance contract an obligation.
  • Active DAS (a new DAS option) is still seen by some as too novel to include – but should the option at least be mentioned to future-proof the guidelines?
  • The guidance on equipment (repeaters and base station) certainly needs to be discussed and reviewed. Should it include technical specifications or just a list of equipment – or some hybrid form?

Play your role, and share your knowledge with us!

Beltug is discussing with the other players about how to adapt the M-O DAS portal and existing guidelines from the BIPT. We want to increase transparency and provide information and guidance.

Do you have expertise, an opinion or experience you can share? We need your input! Send us an email with your comments.