A major health care system in Florida recognized that enhancing wireless communications between clinicians speeds up process flows resulting in improved medical outcomes. The hospital was seeking to update legacy distributed antenna systems (DASs), answer physician complaints about indoor fourth-generation (4G) performance and prepare for 5G. 

The hospital system had approached cellular carriers about updating radio frequency (RF) sources for older medical center DAS infrastructure; the carriers were disinterested until newer DASs were installed.

The information technology/telecom group was regularly hearing from clinicians who demand ubiquitous 4G connectivity on the newest bring-your-own-device wireless phones. Senior management supported the six-hospital upgrade project as a 5G enablement initiative believing that 5G will shift the paradigm in indoor wireless communication, enabling new high-bandwidth, low-latency medical applications.

The hospital worked with a DAS/in-building wireless integrator to evaluate two fiber to the antenna DAS original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Additional deep fiber infrastructure versus stopping in the closet better prepares for the 5G baseline of 1 gigabyte per second versus copper. While enabling 4G on day one, it provides the infrastructure for additional active/powered elements to be added at the edge of the networks as 5G new radio proliferates. 

The two OEM solutions were close in equipment cost, but one of the two can leverage single-mode fiber (SMF), or the multi-mode fiber already present in the fiber riser infrastructure.

The other OEM requires SMF but also manufactures small cell radios authorized for three of the four largest mobile operators. Having small cells as an RF source to the DASs or as self-contained indoor cellular coverage/capacity solutions eliminates the largest challenge of self-funded cellular infrastructure: timely carrier participation. 

The DAS/small cell OEM provided fiber cost-offsetting consideration and was selected for the systemwide initiative because of its ability to help the system prepare for 5G at a competitive cost while ensuring carrier participation. The infrastructure project is underway.

When complete, the initiative will provide satisfactory DAS updates such to secure carrier participation – either hospital or carrier funded. It also will provide ubiquitous 4G infrastructure in all parts of the medical centers, resulting in fewer or no physician complaints; and put in place a robust and 5G-ready fiber and power infrastructure from the MDF/data center all the way to the antenna.