Cobham Wireless has joined forces with a number of organizations, as well as local first responders, to provide Evanston Township High School (ETHS) in Illinois, with a 4G cellular and public safety communications solution, which is based on Cobham Wireless' intelligent digital Distributed Antenna System (idDAS).

Improving cellular and public safety coverage in ETHS – the largest high school in America under one roof – ensures staff and students are able to communicate rapidly and reliably with Evanston’s police and fire departments in emergency situations, as well as providing a high quality of service to AT&T subscribers.

The system provides reliable, high quality AT&T in-building coverage, for ETHS’s 4,000+ students and staff. It also improves both public safety communications and ETHS’s 50 member safety team, which uses AT&T’s ‘Push to Talk’ service.

“The safety and wellbeing of our staff and students is our primary concern, and communication between emergency service teams plays a major part in this,” said Mary Rodino, CFO, ETHS. “The project has tackled the school’s connectivity problems. This is probably the first time that a community has banded together in this way, and the project has helped forge closer links between the school, AT&T, local police and fire departments, and the wireless industry.”

Cobham Wireless worked closely with Radvisory 5G, as well as RFS, Galtronics, Graybar, Chicago Communications, and Fullerton Engineering, to design and deploy the coverage system, which connects to AT&T’s nearby cell tower. All parties contributed equipment and services, with AT&T donating a significant amount of testing and engineering time, so that the system, and subsequent five year maintenance, was fully financed at no cost to the school.

“AT&T is pleased to support this project and has been impressed by the collaborative efforts to achieve better and more reliable cellular and public safety communications inside ETHS,” said Warren Salek, AT&T Assistant Vice President, Radio Access Network.

Evanston Police Department Communication Coordinator, Perry Polinski, added, “Problems over the years with in-building radio coverage to support public safety emergency and first responders necessitated the need to investigate ways to increase coverage within the High School. We are very pleased with the improvement in radio coverage and it was a pleasure working with the High School and many companies involved."

The CPRI-based idDAS digital system features a patented CPRI router that enables digitized RF packets to be sent to any point within the system. It features market leading Uplink Dynamic Range which reduces noise and interference, and maximizes bandwidth and throughput. Power sharing on a per-channel, per remote basis, can be easily controlled via software. Each operator has full control over their allocated power for each of their sectors through the GUI. With the automated commissioning features, deployment time is greatly reduced when compared to a standard analog system with significant savings in labor costs.

The system offers great flexibility as future sectors or remote units can be added without any changes to the existing hardwiring of the system, and up to four remote units can be cascaded. New remote unit expansions can be done via cascading fiber off existing remote units to remove the need of costly fiber runs to existing buildings. Being digital, the system works with any kind of pre-existing fiber within a building, which again saves cost.

“The project has really shined a spotlight on the need for reliable in-building coverage in public buildings in order to keep communities safe,” commented Matt Thompson, VP Sales Americas at Cobham Wireless. “We’ve provided equipment for the likes of the Pentagon, the 2016 World Cup Stadiums, and the World Trade Center, so we have a strong history in both public safety and cellular deployments. We’re excited to now add Evanston to that list and highlight our next generation digital DAS system.”