Distributed Antenna System

Map of Antennas
One of the major cellular carriers has expressed an interest in utilizing a neutral host, distributed antenna system (DAS) that provides cellular telephone service to 48 node/antenna locations in Wellesley. 45 of these locations are 4 foot antennas mounted on the Municipal Light Plant's utility poles and the remaining 3 locations are within the Babson College campus. All antennas will be surrounded by a shroud that will match the color of the poles. It is anticipated the entire 48-node DAS installation will be completed by end of the first quarter of 2016.

History


The Municipal Light Plant (MLP) completed its initial outreach to Wellesley residents and businesses requesting feedback for the expansion of the DAS. Public feedback was requested using the following communications:
  • Wellesley Patch
  • The Swellesley Report
  • Local Television Channel
  • The Wellesley Townsman two advertisements and a Letter to the Editor
  • Two Public Meetings
In total, 70 residents provided feedback via email or telephone. Of these responses, 69 were positive with most highlighting a lack of cellular coverage at their residence. Both public meetings were held in the Arnold Room of the library and were sparsely attended. Based on the information gathered thus far MLP staff recommended MLB approval for the issuance of a Request For Proposal (RFP) that utilizes a two-step process:
  1. Receive and evaluate all responses
  2. Meet with three finalists and request final proposals
Furthermore, the MLP is recommended that the following priorities determine the DAS provider.

Town-Wide Coverage


Cellular telephone usage has become a standard means of communication for most families and business executives. It appears that as many as 15% to 20% of Wellesley residents have either nonexistent or unreliable cellular telephone coverage. The staff is of the opinion that any RFP response that does not provide Town-wide coverage should be rejected.

Maximize Profits


Some areas of Wellesley will require a longer payback as a result of the MLP's fiber installation costs. These additional costs will have a short-term negative impact on DAS profits. The key to maximizing profits is to "partner" with a DAS provider that has strong relationships with all major carriers.

Pole/Canister Aesthetics


DAS technology allows for the installation of a canister that surrounds the antennas. Preference will be assigned to all proposals that are committed to matching the circumference and color of the canister that surrounds the antennas. Preference will be assigned to all proposals that are committed to matching the circumference and color of the canister with the pole. Five of the T-Mobile pole-top antennas have been installed since March 2007 and the MLP has yet to receive a compliant regarding the DAS aesthetics.

Number of Antennas


Assuming 20% of the Town requires expanded coverage and the MLB makes Town-wide service a priority, between 25 and 70 pole-top antennas could be required. There is DAS technology that allows for 2, possibly 3, antennas within each canister while others are limited to one antenna per pole. Cellular telephone companies (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.) are willing to pay more for an individual, stand-alone antenna that serves their specific needs.

MLP staff recommended a business model in which the MLP to responsible for all facets of the fiber backbone installation, including costs. The MLP would assist with the antenna installation and assume all fiber operation and maintenance responsibilities. Finally, the MLP would provide 2,000 square feet of outside space for a DAS hub adjacent to the old substation. In return, the MLP would ask for a sharing of all revenues.

As part of the presentations (PDF), research was completed on the DAS nodes mounted on existing utility poles located within Wellesley.

View the Request for Proposal here (PDF).

Helpful Resources


Should you have any comments, suggestions or questions about DAS, please email Richard F. Joyce, MLP Director call at 781-235-7600, ext. 3380.