Currently, the in the latest MCF2018 specifications, there is no requirement for a 5G DAS system. All carriers are currently deploying the 5G network across the country and its starting to make its way into the In-Building environment. Usually macro and roof top sites will have 5G installed first. Once that is completed, the carriers will start considering 5G in an indoor environment.
When upgrading a DAS system to 5G, there are a few things to understand first. Firstly, under the current MCF2018 specifications, many of the DAS systems in Australia can only operate from the 700-2700MHz spectrum. 5G operates on a number of frequencies, essentially, 5G can operate on any frequency, however, the most popular frequencies are currently in the 3.5-3.6GHz Band (C-Band) or the higher frequency Millimetre Wave Band. A current DAS system from 700-2700MHz does not support these frequencies, therefore, if the carrier only offers 5G on those higher frequencies, DAS systems operating on the lower frequencies will not be able to support 5G. However, if carriers intend to refarm some of the current frequencies for 5G in the future, for example frequencies used for 3G or 4G, then existing DAS systems operating on a 4G network will be capable of supporting 5G.
If carriers make large investments in the 3.5-3.6GHz band, there is passive equipment such as, DAS antennas, cabling and splitters that do already support up to that frequency. It is likely the next revision of the MCF2018 specifications may require the operational frequency range of a DAS system to be higher and cater up to 3.6GHz.
If carriers do choose to refarm existing bans, no additional work is required, as the DAS system will be able to support these frequencies and it is each carrier’s responsibility to maintain the base station equipment to support 5G. However, if upgrading the DAS system to support the higher frequencies, a new system would need to be built. This is because existing passive infrastructure cannot support a frequency as high at 3.5-3.6GHz.
Pricing include many variables, and it is difficult to tell how much it would cost to replace all the passive components of an existing DAS, which would be required if upgrading DAS to support higher frequencies. However, it is likely that carriers will refarm some frequencies in the 700-2700MHz band so that existing DAS systems can support 5G. Which means if DAS has already been implemented in the building, they will not be made redundant and can continue to be used for years to come, and therefore, may not cost building owners anything to upgrade their DAS system.