A distributed antenna system consists of multiple DAS nodes, typically mounted on utility poles consisting of an antenna and transmitter connected to a common source that will help deliver wireless service within a geographical area or in a structure.
The concept behind DAS is that the antennas are smaller and less obtrusive than a cell tower, the DAS nodes work on a lower radiated power than a typical cell telecommunications facility, and can be useful in situations where zoning challenges, terrain problems or coverage issues exist.
AT&T is proposing a pilot program with nine DAS systems and will later expand this to 80 Palo Alto utility poles. The City plans to approve the request from AT&T. Once the city approves the request, it would be difficult for the city to deny future permits from other carriers. So, we end up with X number of carriers with X number of poles. Some can co-locate.
What Questions Should Residents Be Asking?
1. Maintenance requirements state that 24/7 access be given to the equipment located on the poles. What will happen in a residential neighborhood if there is an outage?
2. Who certifies that the radiation from each of the DAS nodes is within specifications? A third-party company hired by the city and not funded by the wireless industry should be making random checks of radiated power on each node. Nodes that are not within specifications will require payment of a fine by the wireless company.
3. What happens when the city wants to move utilities underground? Since the poles are housing a wireless infrastructure, will the carriers be required to move their equipment and supply lines underground? Who pays that expense?
4. Who is getting the money from the installation of these DAS nodes on the Palo Alto Utilities poles? The money should go back to the citizens who pay the utility bills to lower their utility bills. Our guess is that the money will help the city’s general fund which is wrong.
Who is the DAS Forum?
The DAS forum is a membership section of PCIA, a non-profit national trade association representing the wireless infrastructure industry. This group works with cities to create model documentation to speed up the process of approvals. It is funded by the wireless industry and the mission is to help wireless carriers use DAS.