We’ve maintained for some time that Cellular Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and Emergency Responder Radio Communication Systems (ERRCS) or ERCES (…Communication Enhancement…) are the flip side of the same public safety coin: Cellular DAS is critical to make 911 calls inside buildings and ERRCS (or ERCES) is critical to ensure First Responder radios work when they respond to the call.

It’s difficult to find exact data, but most organizations that track 911 calls (like NENA) show that the overwhelming majority of 911 calls are made from inside buildings on cellular phones. All First Responders carry radios to communicate with dispatch and each other.

In an industry with acronyms, ERRCS is often referred to as Public Safety DAS. Many calls to IBWS are from customers looking for a DAS, and of course, the first question is Cellular or Public Safety. So, with apologies to those in the business who know this, we thought it might be useful to highlight the differences between these two types of systems.

Cellular Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and Emergency Responder Radio Communication Systems (ERRCS) are two distinct types of distributed antenna systems used for different purposes. Here are the key differences between them:

Purpose & Use

Cellular DAS: Cellular DAS is primarily designed to enhance and extend cellular and wireless communication coverage within a building or facility. It is used to improve the signal strength and capacity for commercial wireless networks (e.g., 4G LTE, 5G) to provide better mobile phone and data services for occupants and visitors.

ERRCS: Emergency Responder Radio Communication Systems (ERRCS) are specifically designed to ensure reliable communication for public safety and emergency responders (e.g., police, firefighters, EMS) inside buildings and structures during emergencies and critical situations. ERRCS is required to comply with public safety regulations and standards to ensure first responders can communicate effectively.

Regulatory Compliance

Cellular DAS: The deployment of cellular DAS systems typically falls under commercial and regulatory frameworks established by telecommunications authorities and industry standards. They are not mandated for public safety use.

ERRCS: ERRCS is mandated by regulations in many jurisdictions to ensure that public safety agencies can communicate reliably within buildings during emergencies. Compliance with standards such as NFPA 1221 and NFPA 72 is essential for ERRCS installations.

Frequency Bands & Equipment

Cellular DAS: Cellular DAS systems primarily focus on commercial frequency bands used by wireless carriers. They use equipment designed for commercial wireless networks.

ERRCS: ERRCS operates on dedicated public safety frequency bands, which are separate from commercial wireless networks. It requires specialized equipment and antennas to support public safety radio systems like VHF, UHF, 700 MHz, and 800 MHz bands.

Priority & Reliability

Cellular DAS: Cellular DAS prioritizes commercial wireless traffic, and the quality of service may vary depending on the network’s load. It does not provide dedicated priority access to public safety agencies.

ERRCS: ERRCS is designed to provide priority and preemption capabilities for public safety communications, ensuring that first responders have reliable access to the network even during network congestion.

Ownership & Operation

Cellular DAS: Cellular DAS systems are typically owned and operated by building owners or third-party companies that provide enhanced cellular coverage as a service to building occupants.

ERRCS: ERRCS installations are usually required by building codes or regulations, and they are often owned and operated by the building owner. Public safety agencies have oversight and may require access to maintain and test the system. In summary, Cellular DAS and ERRCS serve distinct purposes and are subject to different regulations and standards. Cellular DAS enhances commercial wireless communication within buildings, while ERRCS ensures reliable communication for public safety agencies during emergencies. Building owners and managers should carefully consider the specific needs and requirements of their facilities when deciding which system to deploy.

Contact Us

We’ve had some assistance from AI to compile this Blog – so we credit their help. If you need assistance with either a Cellular DAS or ERRCS, please reach out to IBWS on our website. We design, test and install these systems and work with customers to determine the most cost-effective solutions.