Super Bowl gets a taste of DAS

Big events like the Super Bowl generate loads of wireless traffic, not just from voice calls and SMS–the Super Bowl may be one of the few times a wireless user ever sends a picture or video message. Wireless operators typical handle the overload by hauling a few cell sites on wheels, or COWs, into the parking lot, but at least two operators are taking a different approach to adding more macro cells. They’re using ADC’s distributed antenna system architecture (DAS) to get into the guts of Raymond James Stadium.  

ADC vice president of product management John Spindler won’t name the two operators. Sprint has announced it has deployed a DAS system throughout the stadium, while Verizon Wireless has said it has built an in-building network. Neither named ADC as their vendor, but you can infer what you choose.

Macro cells are pretty lousy way of covering a stadium: loads of concrete and steel cover concourses and underground facilities. It take something awfully powerful to penetrate that mess. The DAS, though, takes a sector that would normally radiate from the top of an external tower and distrubtes it throughout a building in as many as 32 discrete remote modules. Instead of transmitting from a single point, the whole cell can be gerrymandered throughout the concourses and training facilities of a building. Spindler likens it to an “RF sprinkler system.”

The result is better indoor coverage in the places football worshippers are likely to use it the most: the concourses the concession stands, and–I hate to say it–the men’s bathrooms. And just how much will that coverage be needed? Spindler said that last year’s Super Bowl generated 2.1 Terabytes of data on a single operator’s network, and the previous year’s event at Dolphin stadium–which ADC also outfitted–at one point hosted 15,000 simultaneous phone calls.

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