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Active DAS vs. Signal Boosters: Which is Better?

Posted by on Mar 04, 2018

In order to boost a signal, one needs a signal source plus antennas to distribute that signal to enhance cellular coverage by covering gaps in cell service spaces in buildings, facilities, etc. When it comes to boosting cell phone signals, which is better: An Active Distributed Antenna System (Active DAS - including Small Cell System), or a cell phone signal booster system (AKA. Passive DAS)?


Basic Differences & Similarities in Approach to Boosting Signal Reception Coverage.

Active DAS - Including Small Cells System.

An active DAS also includes “Small Cell” in its categorization. The main difference between the two types is simply that a Small Cell system can only support a single service provider. DAS can be configured for multiple carrier feeds (at add’l cost and effort to get those feeds and approved by respective carriers). Either way, they go for addition of blanketed total coverage approach when it comes to solving cell phone signal deficiencies.

Signal Booster System (AKA. Passive DAS).

A signal booster system usually goes for patching dead-zone approach but ensures total coverage just like active DAS. Both systems boil down to having a number of cell phone antennae in a given geographical area to boost signals within that area.

Main Operational Differences Between Active DAS / Small Cell Versus Signal Booster System.

The main difference between an active DAS or Small Cell System and a cell phone signal booster (aka. passive DAS) is that a signal booster system amplifies already-present signals outside to bridge gaps in coverage, while an active DAS mainly creates new areas of coverage altogether using a cellular service carrier feed (one per Carrier).

Differences from the Time & Cost Perspective.

Well… as much as cell phone signal boosters are a significant investment, a DAS is that much more expensive; three to eight times pricier than a cell phone signal booster, as a matter of fact. In addition to the sophisticated and expensive parts required to create a decent DAS, one has to account for labor hours, time for construction, additional maintenance costs and more. If more than one carrier coverage is required, the cost for active DAS installation will increase even more.

What's more, a DAS tends to require a lot more red tape than a cell phone signal booster. A signal booster kit for smaller areas up to 10,000 sq. ft. is clear and ready to go right out of the box with similar sytem designed by our certified installers for larger spaces up to 250k sq. ft. On other hand, a DAS also requires contracts and permission from major cell phone carriers, regular annual local fire department / fire marshal’s office certifications and approvals. Furthermore, given amount of infrastructure that has to be built to create a good DAS (active), it will require considerably more investment in time and money to solve the problem of building material interfering with cell phone signals or no mobile signal at all outside the building.


If your facility has good outdoor wireless signal from relevant cellular providers, most likely you will not need to create an active DAS (Distributed Antenna System) - See the size chart at the top showing majority of buildings in United States are under 250,000 sq. ft. Therefore, get yourself a cell phone signal booster system instead which is the most practical solution atleast for areas under 250,000 sq. ft. For spaces larger than that, a DAS may be considered as an alternative but those cases are far fewer per pyramid shown at the top. The only exception to this rule may be for instances when your building under 250k sq. ft. has no outside signal strength for all practical purposes.

Questions? Call us for a FREE product recommendation or try our automated Cell Phone Signal Booster Selector Tool. Need a cell phone booster installer? We offer installation services by a certified installing team that installs boosters nationwide across USA and Canada. Submit location details for cell phone signal booster system design & installation quote to have your amplifier kit installed by professionals.

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