The Neutral Hosting/DAS initiative is a multi-year project, funded by the DAS licensees (a consortium consisting of Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T), to provide reliable outdoor and indoor cellular coverage and capacity across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. This unique approach provides a common (shared) transport infrastructure for all cellular carriers in addition to providing enhanced in-building coverage for Carolina’s Public Safety’s two-way radio system. Due to the complexity of system design, construction coordination and approval requirements, the DAS is being deployed in three phases over the next few years.
Wireless carriers are no longer permitted to deploy carrier-specific RF infrastructure on campus. Instead, any carrier is welcome to become a licensee and utilize the campus DAS network. By becoming a DAS licensee, each carrier gains access to the entire campus wireless system. The arrangement is “neutral” because no carrier has an advantage over another. All compete equally for the business of University clients. Campus faculty, students and staff are free to choose the carrier whose services best meet their needs.
Important note–although some coverage improvements may result from the Phase I deployment, the UNC-Chapel Hill DAS does not include UNC Healthcare buildings on campus. UNC Hospital currently has a Sprint-only DAS within its facility.
Deployment of initial outdoor DAS infrastructure
Phase I of the DAS initiative includes the design and construction of the system head-end location (the “heart” of the system containing all DAS common equipment and carriers’ cellular base station equipment) and 13 DAS node (antenna) locations across campus. The specific campus node locations (see below) were selected based on the RF (radio frequency) system design required to provide the best initial coverage footprint on campus (and the AOB/Giles Horney complex off-campus). Construction of Phase I was completed in March 2012 with Verizon and T-Mobile active on the system. AT&T activated its network on the DAS in June 2013. Sprint currently is not a licensee of the UNC-Chapel Hill DAS.
DAS node locations
The current UNC-Chapel Hill DAS node locations include the following campus buildings:
- Administrative Office Building (AOB – Giles Horney complex)
- Cardinal Parking Deck
- Carmichael Residence Hall
- Cobb Parking Deck
- Dean Smith Center
- Ehringhaus Residence Hall
- FedEx Global
- ITS Manning
- Kenan-Flagler Parking Deck
- Kenan Music Center
- Kenan Stadium
- Morehead Planetarium
A campus map showing the current DAS node locations (PDF):
Projected RF Coverage Footprint (Phase I)
Phase II – In-building reinforcement
Phase II of the DAS initiative is underway. During this phase, cellular signal coverage and quality will be sampled in each campus building on each floor. This allows the consortium to identify specific locations with minimal or no coverage (provided by the initial Phase I nodes) and design the appropriate in-building infrastructure to meet DAS license coverage requirements. Since each Carolina building is unique, all in-building infrastructure solutions must be individually designed and approved by UNC-Chapel Hill Facilities Planning prior to construction and implementation. With more than 300 buildings on campus, this phase of the DAS initiative will require several years to complete.
New campus locations
As new campus locations evolve, such as the new Carolina North campus, the DAS will be extended to include these areas. Check this site periodically for updates.
Current status (As of December 10, 2014)
Work continues on Phase II of the neutral hosting/DAS project. The attached “UNC-Chapel Hill DAS Active Nodes” document outlines the current active DAS nodes by carrier, as of today. Since each carrier uses a combination of the DAS nodes and its existing macro cell sites within the campus area to meet coverage requirements, you’ll notice that some node sites (or sectors of a site) are not used by specific carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon). This is normal and does not necessarily indicate a lack of coverage in those specific areas.
ITS Engineering has completed the coordination of Phase II surveys (in-building coverage surveys) across campus with CTS (the consortium’s design and construction firm). These surveys will be used to identify in-building areas that need additional coverage elements to meet the carrier’s DAS license agreement requirements.
The final status for building surveys (PDF):
Please keep in mind that the results of the Phase II surveys will be used to design the appropriate coverage infrastructure solution for each individual building. Every in-building construction design is subject to UNC-Chapel Hill Facilities Planning review and approval, as well as the North Carolina State Construction Office in Raleigh, before any installation activities can start. As building designs are finalized and approved, we will post updates.
Kenan Stadium DAS Enhancement Project
All DAS enhancement construction and system implementation activities at Kenan Stadium were completed prior to the August 30th home opener. Initial system performance feedback during the first home game of the season against Liberty was extremely positive. The carrier team will continue to monitor and optimize system performance over the entire home football season to ensure the best coverage, capacity and Tarheel fan experience.
Note: DAS enhancement construction activities at Kenan Stadium will not interrupt any other scheduled activities at the stadium.
A current operational status for all campus DAS nodes (PDF):