Whatever your thoughts are regarding this week’s Republican National Convention, one thing’s for certain: downtown Cleveland will be walking away with an upgraded wireless network system.
In preparation for the 50,000 people descending on the city, major carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile invested heavily in permanent wireless infrastructure upgrades to the city. As a matter of fact, At&T spent roughly $325 million in Cleveland’s wired and wireless networks between 2013 and 2015 alone. Many providers are also excited to talk about the new Distributed Antenna System (DAS) installed at the Quicken Loans Arena, Huntington Cleveland Convention Center, Jack Casino, and four Cleveland hotels. A DAS system is essentially a number of spatially separated antenna nodes connected to the same source through a transport medium. The new DAS systems will allow for the latest in 4G capabilities, which means double the speeds at double the capacity. “This is a huge benefit to Clevelanders,” said Steven Van Dinter, Verizon’s public relations manager for the Great Lakes market. “When the pomp and circumstance leaves, that technology sticks around.”
Verizon has also used this year’s Republican National Convention as a way to introduce their new “small-cell” technology, a system of miniature cell towers that provide service up to 1000 square feet. “They are hidden in plain site, placed on light posts, sometimes hidden in buildings. Each is connected by fiber cable to our nearest macro tower, from there to our regional switch, which directs data to wherever”, says Verizon’s PR manager. “It’s all fiber connected.”
According to experts, the revamped wireless networks should be able to handle the traffic. “It’s not that different from a big sporting event,” said Ray Nettleton, a wireless industry consultant. The fact that the majority of attendees will be indoors at the convention is good news for providers. Rather than having everyone using the cellular networks at the same time, many people will be relying on the venue’s indoor wi-fi service.
Providers were able to look to this year’s NBA finals as a way to gauge the reliability of their networks. Both AT&T and Sprint upgraded their networks at Quicken Loans before game 7 of the series, and noted that the network performed particularly well. “It was good for us from a network capacity to see where some of those pinch points were,” said AT&T official, Patrick Zimmerman.
Scott Santi, VP for Sprint’s central region, said that although he expects service to reliable during the convention, it would be unrealistic for customers to expect their network speeds to be unaffected by the extra 50,000 people in Cleveland this week.
Between their NBA title and the spiffy new wireless network, 2016 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for Cleveland.
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