July 12, 2016
Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) pose many challenges, including the fact they are usually installed in havens for interference. However, as the case study below shows, using the proper test solutions, such as handheld cable and antenna analyzers, passive intermodulation analyzers and a cloud-based software solution, can help successfully deploy DAS networks – in this case ensuring operation while reducing test time by 70%.
A large state university on the east coast was upgrading the wireless network in its basketball arena to provide spectators with improved venue coverage/capacity, particularly for high-bandwidth services. Communication Technology Services (CTS), the contractor hired by Crown Castle for the project, needed test tools that could simplify the complex challenge of collecting thousands of traces to verify the DAS installations in a very tight time window.
The 8,000-seat indoor multi-purpose arena posed a set of obstacles that ranged from building architecture to environmental conditions. CTS Project Manager Legion Marks and his team had only a few weeks to install the DAS network throughout the basketball facility. To verify the network, more than 2,000 traces had to be done on the various passive branches that stretched across the complex. Some venues have 10,000 to 15,000 traces required. All of the traces had to be reviewed and approved before the project could be closed out. In the past, there was a time lag in compiling and presenting results to the Crown Castle RF Engineering team, which could result in project delays. They needed a more automated testing solution to compile and upload data for quicker reviews in order to track the cycle time and ensure data integrity.
“With the emergence of LTE technology, DAS complexity and density has greatly increased along with demand for line sweep detail. It is a daunting task to manage the large amount of traces during a project. The DAS industry as a whole needs a powerful trace management tool. Thankfully, we had SkyBridge Tools,” explained Marks.
Test Solutions Save Time Marks, experienced in engineer, furnish, and install (EF&I) management, selected a suite of Anritsu field solutions. His team used Site Master™ “E” and “L” series cable and antenna analyzers, as well as the PIM Master™ MW82119B. SkyBridge Tools™ Test Manager cloud-based trace management tool was used with all the instruments to simplify the testing processes associated with the DAS installation. It provided a number of benefits, including:
Automated Test Scripts – The easyTest™ feature of SkyBridge Tools makes it simple to create a set of instrument control scripts based on Crown Castle’s MOP (Method of Procedure). This allowed the CTS team to conduct measurements by pressing a single button per test.
Reporting – Skybridge Tools offers a one-click solution for reporting.
Marks could track the progress of the project by simply logging into his account, eliminating the tedious, time-consuming and error-prone practice of manually compiling data and sending a periodic report. Marks explained, “Skybridge Tools eliminated many of the headaches with manipulating large amounts of trace data, including pass/fail review, naming convention mistakes, and batch processing. It even allowed me to export the data into a tabulated form, which reduces manual data entry for closeout documentation.”
All of this made for a seamless process. Team members would upload completed traces to SkyBridge Tools. Once Marks approved them, each batch was made available to Crown Castle RF engineers through Skybridge Tools for their review. The result was a very efficient method to verify the installation of the entire DAS network, allowing Crown Castle to ensure that all the test criteria has been met with all the corrections in place, before approving the project.
The Anritsu staff went above and beyond when it came to support, according to Marks. Hands-on training was provided to CTS and it was completed in only three hours so the team could begin gathering traces the same day.
CTS was able to meet the project timeline in large part because SkyBridge Tools created a highly efficient method for storing traces that shaved at least 70% off the job timeline, according to Marks. Crown Castle was able to review and approve the project more quickly, ultimately allowing the project to be closed out faster and for payment to be expedited.
“Skybridge Tools takes trace management to the next level. I see a huge value in it for my company, both on cost savings and customer service. After implementing this process, I don’t see any other way to collect large amounts of trace data,” said Marks.
SkyBridge Tools helped CTS close out the sports venue project more efficiently, get paid faster and move on to the next project. To learn more about SkyBridge Tools can to help your DAS installations, visit a comprehensive page on the cloud-based solution.