Mindspeed adds support for smart DAS into small cells

June 19, 2012 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Mindspeed Technologies has integrated support for smart Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) technology into its range of System-on-Chip (SoCs) for small cell products. With this capability, the company can support ‘hybrid’ systems, with small cell base stations feeding DAS equipment, extending the opportunities for small cells and bringing new value to companies currently developing DAS products.

Until now, chips for small cells have been unable to support DAS but Mindspeed’s PC333 and PC3032 products have added specific support to deal with the delay characteristics of the long coaxial networks and the specific antenna technology associated with DAS. The PC333 and PC3032 are expressly designed for high-performance public access small cells that serve urban hot spots, city centers and dense in-building systems. They are the only small cell SoCs that support 3GPP Local Area Base Station (LABS) performance and soft handover (SHO) standards, important in areas which may be served by multiple antennas such as DAS.

“Just as people have found with Wi-Fi, small cells and DAS should be seen as complementary technologies rather than competitive,” said Doug Pulley, chief technology officer, wireless, at Mindspeed. “Combining small cells and DAS opens up new opportunities for both technologies and allows carriers to cost-effectively address both coverage and capacity in large buildings. Many retail complexes and offices have DAS systems installed which enable capacity upgrades and a migration path to 4G.”

“The combination of DAS and small cells make an extremely good fit, especially in medium sized buildings where there is existing fiber, coax or CAT5 cabling that distributes the RF signals. In many buildings, there is no reason to drive DAS using traditional three-sector macro base stations, but rather to use small cells to drive DAS, possibly on every floor,” says Aditya Kaul, practice director, mobile networks, at ABI Research.

Traditional DAS solutions channel radio frequencies and provide excellent coverage for large buildings, underground tunnels, shopping malls and areas difficult to penetrate using outdoor macro cells. Today the biggest challenge facing operators is enabling excellent coverage while maintaining the capacity to support ever-increasing amounts of data. This is where small cells can provide a solution.

Small cells are excellent at delivering capacity. Traditionally, small cells have served an area around a base station (perhaps 100 m in a