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Chicomm Blog

How a Bidirectional Amplifier Improves In-Building Communication

Posted by Lisa MacGillivray on Thursday, July 20, 2023

How a Bi-Directional Amplifier Improves In-Building CommunicationWhen looking into improving your in-building communication, you'll probably come across the terms: Signal Booster, BDA (bi-directional amplifier), or DAS (Distributed Antenna System). If you’re experiencing issues such as dead zones or spotty reception, you know how frustrating poor coverage can be, causing lost productivity and safety issues.  

A DAS is a network of antennas placed throughout a building used to boost wireless signals, typically in large buildings like campuses, hospitals, hotels, or manufacturing plants. 

A bi-directional amplifier is a device that locates a wireless signal, amplifies it, and then rebroadcasts it throughout your building. It also helps your two-way radios and smartphones avoid dropping calls or receiving spotty coverage. This blog provides more insight into how this actually happens, and the next steps to take if you think a BDA and DAS might solve your communications problems.

Capturing the Signal

When your in-building system is up and running, it seeks out the wireless signal that you are trying to use throughout your building. Your signal often comes from a Donor Antenna on the roof of the building. The distributed antenna system will locate that signal, and capture it—step one, complete.

Amplifying the Signal

After the device has located the signal, the next step is for the BDA to amplify it. Imagine being at a venue where a musician is singing on stage. If there's no microphone, it's nearly impossible for people more than a few rows back to hear the song. But, when you add a microphone, their voice (the signal) is “captured” and amplified to the audience (the building).

Redistributing the Signal

Just as the speakers at that venue would redistribute the singer’s amplified voice to the entire audience, the bi-directional amplifier redistributes the amplified signal throughout your building. The success of this process directly relates back to the installation of the DAS, as it needs to be strategically placed in order to receive the best signal possible.

This redistribution provides significantly improved signal strength and more reliable coverage when the signal source is obstructed (typically due to being inside a large building like a hospital, plant, or even a school).  

Setting Up the Device

In order to work correctly, a signal booster should be installed in the optimal location within your structure. For example, say you have a multi-story warehouse that has working floors all the way up, and into the basement (below ground). The signal you're trying to receive with your smartphone is coming from the roof of the building, but you are currently standing in the basement. Where would you install the device?

The best way to achieve coverage here is to have an experienced solutions provider analyze your structure, and determine the best location(s) to place the BDA and DAS. That’s because the installation of signal boosters is actually a two-step process: strategy and then implementation.

Regardless of how tech-savvy you or your team may be, setting up a DAS or BDA on your own is a risky idea because it can compromise the equipment's effectiveness.

Due to their complexity, distributed antenna systems or bi-directional amplifiers require expert attention, including involvement in the engineering, design, analysis, and installation of the system. With a variety of use cases (more on those below), BDA solutions should be tailored to the specific needs of your organization.

Benefits of a BDA & DAS

The clearest benefit of a BDA & DAS communications solution is the improved signal within the structure you operate in. It is a true communications tool, and this signal booster helps in a variety of ways. Here are some of the core benefits of them:

  • Improve cellular and two-way radio communications within your buildings
  • Ensure dependable communication coverage for first responders
  • Enhance your business's productivity  
  • Increase value to tenants through enhanced mobile coverage  
  • Address all cellular carriers within a single building  
  • One of the best things about DAS is the fact that the benefits they offer directly rely on the use case. For example, those in a manufacturing plant will be using the BDA for different reasons than a campus or hospital would, but the solution would still find ways to help solve their signal and communication issues.  

Determining Whether You Need a DAS & BDA

If you are experiencing communication issues, the short answer to whether you need a DAS & BDA is "yes." This is because when communication is lost or simply slows down, so does the efficiency of your business or organization. When a plant worker or school administrator enters a dead zone, those relying on that communication are now left in the dark, and in some cases, that can cause logistical nightmares or even safety issues.  

Here are some of the most common applications:  

  • Hospitals
  • Manufacturing Plants
  • Campuses for Schools, Universities  
  • Shopping Centers and Malls  
  • Airports
  • Convention Centers, Stadiums, and Arenas  

In-building solutions help keep everyone in the building safe, and ensure efficiency is top-notch through effective (and clear) communication.

Next Steps

For more information about whether a BDA or a related distributed antenna system solution, will meet your needs, set up a time to chat with Chicago Communications about implementing the right solution for you.  

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