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Navigating The DAS Ecosystem From Requirements And Proposals To Turnup

When it comes to distributed antenna systems (DAS), it's sometimes not what you know, but who you know. Whether you're new to DAS or looking to streamline your current operations, establishing a holistic view of your project and aligning your best resources to take full advantage of their value is key. From selecting the right vendor, managing your supply chain, or contracting your installation, aligning your project with high-performing, experienced partners makes all the difference. The challenge of course is choosing the right partner and knowing how to take advantage of their expertise. Take a minute to review the DAS project check list - it provides a holistic view of a typical DAS project and where potential partnerships can make your job and your project easier.

1. Project Requirements

Define your project's requirements and understand the scope and management efforts early. These requirements will set your course for the entire project. There really is no substitute for experience here. Aligning with experienced installers, program managers, and supply chain experts will help you research and define your options, understand the technology, and guide you throughout project execution.

2. System Design

Nothing is more valuable than an accurate and complete DAS design that includes project documentation suitable for proposals and competitive bid submissions. RF propagation reports working with industry standards and aligning with carrier requirements are a must. There are several options; as such, considering partners with proven track records and software tools can assist in producing winning results.

3. Project Planning

Project planning and coordination is relied upon by carriers, contractors, and system integrators. A comprehensive DAS project plan includes construction site requirements, labor, scheduling, and of course the procurement and delivery of materials. Your vendor selections including manufacturers, installers, and supply chain experts may require upfront commitments; however, in return, each can provide upfront comprehensive plans as part of their project proposals.

4. Proposal

When it's time to bid, you'll be working with multiple resources to develop your project's proposal. In the process you may find, for example, that a supply chain provider with technical expertise can furnish a comprehensive Bill of Materials, corresponding delivery schedule options, and design and product documentation. Each potential partner will be adding to your proposal efforts. This process will help to identify potential design issues, product availability, and budget impacts.

5. Carrier Coordination

Possibly the most important step in a DAS deployment - coordinating with the carrier - requires two steps. First, establishing your system's requirements with the carrier(s) approval at the upfront of the project, will impact your design, project plan, and possibly your proposal. It is important to lock in these requirements early. Second is working with the carrier(s) prior to turn-up to conduct acceptance testing. Work with partners that have good working relationships with the carrier. They can help the approval process by providing accurate documents to support your design and system performance. If carrier feedback requires a solution change, your initial efforts will provide alternative solutions and designs or data that support your original effort.

6. Logistics: Installation & Test

Every project is different. Remaining flexible in your sourcing and deployment options has a significant impact your project. While the on-site logistics are part of your installation effort, be sure to take full advantage of customizable supply chain models that provide kitting of materials, pre-assembly of cabling and enclosures, and staging to meet even aggressive schedules and challenging venues. Working with vendors that provide a dedicated program coordinator streamlines and offloads the daily tracking and management of your project to address scope changes, scheduling changes, last-minute substitutions, and approvals.

7. Commissioning & Cutover

With your project nearing turn-up, there are a few details that should not be overlooked. Final system testing and carrier signoff is needed. Be prepared to handle last- minute requirements for test equipment, material spares, and replacements, as well as complementary technologies including Wi-Fi solutions, battery backup for Public Safety requirements, and specialty tools and supplies. Again, partnering with a supply chain provider with DAS experience will make your job easier.

Scott Gregory can be reached at gregorys@tessco.com.