Brave New World: Public Safety DAS for Emergency Responder Radio Coverage

I am delighted to launch our CritComm Insights U.S. Public Safety DAS study. This report is the result of several months of intense discussion with players across the in-building wireless ecosystem and provides a deep-dive into fire code requirements, market dynamics, solution portfolios and competition.

The changes in the nation's fire code now force building developers, owners and operators to incorporate emergency responder radio coverage (ERRC) systems into large structures. A recent development that stems from analysis of the 9-11 World Trade Center disaster, these requirements ensure two-way radio coverage is available throughout building structures. 

In contrast to in-building cellular coverage systems, ERRC systems transmit land mobile radio signals serving a local jurisdiction's fire department operations. Because jurisdictions adjust code requirements to meet local needs, most public safety DAS deployments must also support frequencies used by police and emergency medical services.

These codes have a big impact on building developers and owners. In areas where ERRC systems are mandatory, a new large structure cannot receive an occupancy permit until the building successfully completes an acceptance test procedure. Because these systems are hidden infrastructure and do not serve building tenants or visitors -- save the occasional emergency worker -- building owners have tended to avoid engaging deeply in system selection. 

A key finding of this report is that FirstNet has the potential to dramatically change the building owner's perception of the public safety DAS value proposition. To be sure, neither FirstNet nor AT&T have supplied much in the way of guidance when it comes to in-building coverage other than to highlight the 6,000 plus facilities currently covered by AT&T. Once FirstNet takes root, however, local authorities will want to extend robust FirstNet coverage into a broader set of local structures so that FirstNet is on par with land mobile radio. 

The CritComm Insights research report, Public Safety DAS Landscape: Opportunity and Challenge, is available at