AT&T: DAS is a Go in Palo Alto

Remember our series of stories on AT&T’s plans to build a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) network to beef up cell coverage in the Silicon Valley town of Palo Alto? According to Ma Bell’s chief technology officer John Donovan, that plan has recently received approval from the city council, which means that AT&T will likely start putting up some of the small antennas perhaps as early as in a month or so.

“We’ve got a bunch of designs [for antenna deployment] to finalize, but construction [of the network] should start early next month,” said Donovan, when we asked him about the DAS project when he was in town last week for the opening of AT&T’s Foundry innovation center in Palo Alto. Donovan, who is overseeing a big strategic move toward more DAS deployments by AT&T this year, lauded his team for cutting through red tape and getting the Palo Alto plan from idea to reality in less than 2 years.

If you are unfamiliar with DAS it may be because it has traditionally been used to improve cell signals inside buildings — say large office buildings or big sheltered spaces like hotels, convention centers or casinos — where people want to use their mobile devices but may be hindered by walls and ceilings. But with some new outside antenna designs (like AT&T’s test model that we photographed in San Mateo earlier this year) providers like AT&T are looking into building outdoor DAS networks to supplement areas where cell coverage is poor, like the leafy residential neighborhoods of Palo Alto.

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