How is FORTÉ different from DAS?
A distributed antenna system or “DAS” is exactly what the name implies, an antenna for cellular signal that is spread throughout a building. Unlike a roadside tower that has a single set of panel antennas, DAS distributes multiple antenna heads throughout a building. These antenna heads are interconnected by custom-installed coax cable or fiber to specialized amplifiers and signal splitting boxes located throughout the property. The heart of a DAS is the head end where a cellular base station is connected to the DAS to create the signal the antenna system carries through the building. The bottom line is “no base station, no service,” and therein lies the issue. Even if the DAS is purchased by the property, the cellular base station to drive the DAS is always supplied by the wireless operator. Unless the property is large and heavily trafficked, the wireless operators might not be interested in investing in base stations and connecting them to the DAS. It’s like throwing a very expensive party and no one shows up.
FORTÉ™ takes an entirely different approach because it uses small cells. The small cell is about the size of a soup bowl and mounts on the ceiling. Because each small cell is a combination of antenna and the cellular radio, a FORTÉ system is not dependent on the wireless operators bringing their own cellular base stations. The small cells are interconnected throughout the building on standard CAT 5/6 cabling, are powered by Power over Ethernet (PoE), and are connected to Ethernet-based routing and monitoring equipment in a telephone closet.
The bottom line is the small cell equipment is less expensive than DAS, the cabling is much simpler and, perhaps most importantly, the wireless operators are not required to bring a separate and expensive cellular base station to the property.
How is FORTÉ different from repeaters?
A repeater uses an antenna on the rooftop to collect cellular signal from the wireless operators’ various outdoor cellular towers. It then has an amplifier that strengthens this signal and sends it through the building through a series of coax-connected antenna heads. The signal from devices inside the building are collected by the antenna heads, amplified, and sent out via the rooftop antenna.
The fundamental issue with repeaters is they are relying upon the outdoor cellular tower to have the capacity to handle all the devices inside the building. In many cases, this extra capacity at the tower is not available. The end result is people inside the building will see they have 4 or 5 bars of signal strength because of the in-building amplifier but they will not be able to make/receive calls and/or will experience very slow data sessions because the capacity of the tower is exceeded. As a result, three of the four U.S. wireless operators have stopped any new deployments of repeaters and the fourth will use them in only exceptional cases.
The FORTÉ™ small cells are not repeaters. They are individual cellular radios that provide both signal and capacity. As a result, the people in the building will enjoy a high performance cellular experience rather than the false illusion of raw signal strength.
How do I buy FORTÉ?
ClearSky Technologies is your single source for everything you need to deploy indoor cellular service. ClearSky supplies the small cells, manages installation and, most importantly, maintains the interconnection with the wireless operators so that the small cells activate correctly and continue to work with the outdoor cellular network 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Simply contact us to begin the purchase process.
Which wireless operators are supported?
FORTÉ™ works with all four of the largest U.S. wireless operators, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. However, you may not need all four operators. FORTÉ is based on small cell technology, so you can pick the mix of operators that are important to your property. ClearSky will install and operate the correct set of small cells to deliver the desired service. For instance, you may find that Sprint has excellent coverage at your property because they have a lightly loaded outdoor cell tower very close by. However AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile service is lacking. In this case, you can choose service for just three of the four operators and ClearSky will deliver the appropriately sized solution.