It is imperative for first responders to effectively maintain reliable, wide-area public safety radio communications during emergency situations. A distributed antenna system (DAS) for emergency communications enables first responders to have high-quality (90-99%) radio coverage between general and critical areas within a building. Public safety DAS is mandated by many municipalities for new buildings around the country, as defined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Fire Code (IFC). Without real-time DAS monitoring and alarming, a public safety DAS may not be ready for life safety radio traffic. Microlab’s SMART (System Monitor Alarm Report Technology) Passives System enables real-time performance monitoring of cabling, RF components, and antennas deep into a building, alleviating the risk of poor network performance and radio coverage.
As background, conventional two-way, push-to-talk, public safety radio systems do not have a constant downlink signal like wireless cellular telephone systems, where a network failure might be discovered at a wireless operator’s network operations center (NOC). Proof-of-performance testing of public safety DAS typically occurs on an annual basis. As a result, the probability of a catastrophic DAS cabling or antenna fault that impedes proper radio performance heightens throughout the year.
Providing real-time DAS monitoring and alarming capabilities, Microlab’s SMART Passives System is comprised of SMART Couplers and a SMART Gateway at the head-end’s main RF source. The SMART Coupler is an innovative, proprietary technology that was designed to replace common passive DAS tappers or couplers with a specially developed broadband, 130 – 960 MHz passive coupler with active, IoT diagnostic technology. Each SMART Coupler reports an approximate voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) at each port, which is based on a calibrated continuous wave (CW) tone generated by the SMART Gateway. By comparing with this reference VSWR at each port over time, the SMART Passives System proactively identifies and report failures, such as an open or short circuit. If a failure is detected, the gateway sends an alert based on a SMART Coupler’s MAC address, which is tied to a physical location, via email or SMS through SNMP traps. Additionally, a malfunction alert may be sent through a normally closed dry contact alarm pair on the SMART Gateway that terminates at the building’s fire alarm panel. The SMART Passives System’s real-time monitoring capabilities ensure that public safety DAS system integrators, authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ), and building owners can depend on their critical communication systems.
The SMART Passives System, along with Microlab’s broad portfolio of high-quality RF components, bolsters the preparedness of in-building public safety wireless networks. RF engineers and technicians who design and deploy these systems and are looking to increase confidence in DAS designs, reduce deployment costs, maintain deployment schedules, and minimize DAS downtime can turn to Microlab for their solutions. Available to ship within 3-5 days, wide bandwidth products covering VHF, UHF, Tetra, and FirstNet frequencies can be utilized to future-proof system deployments. Custom designs are also available to accommodate specific customer needs, supported by experienced application engineering consultation to optimize system design.
Reliable communications can mean all the difference when an emergency strikes. With more than 70 years of industry experience, Microlab is here to tackle the challenges of public safety DAS and wide-area, land mobile radio (LMR) dispatch network deployments.