The AT&T satellite provider processed approximately 64 terabytes of data during the Democratic National Conference. Many analysts suggested that the mobile networks would be interrupted due to heavy traffic, but something phenomenal and surprising happened during the conventions. The mobile networks remained connected throughout both RNC and DNC.
Over 20,000 politicians, delegates, and press members attended the conventions held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. In addition to this, more than a thousand people were present to witness and protest against the conventions.
It was assumed that mobile networks might get disconnected due to the overall stress of connections. Yet, mobile networks rose above the challenge and the connections remained stable throughout the conventions.
AT&T made this task possible by updating their data infrastructure in Cleveland and Philadelphia regions, and by increasing their 4G coverage three times. Furthermore, they successfully installed transmitters in each arena and circulated the streets with roaming data towers.
Mike Katra, AT&T’s DNC lead said, “Coverage operated smoothly because we planned ahead, then were able to monitor event traffic in real-time. In Philly, we transitioned towards LTE, and were a bit unsure about how much traffic would be on the legacy 3G network. As [the DNC] occurred, 3G traffic actually rose. We made changes on-the-fly, and kept customers on both 3G and 4G well served.”
We have witnessed cell networks struggling to deliver connection and even blackouts during major events in the earlier days. The competition between consumers to share or upload videos, images, and messages has frequently resulted in the blackout or poor connection in majority of the cell companies.
Katra admitted that providing coverage to subscribers during big events possess a greater risk. “At previous events, like hockey, or basketball games, or concerts we didn’t have great coverage. We came up with a personal solution at Wells Fargo Center. We used a Giant Eyeball to create a data spotlight on the floor,” he said.
The ‘Giant Eyeball’ Katra mentioned is capable of handling ten times the data transfer of a normal antenna. He also praised the fisheye lens of the device and stated it was a perfect tool “to give users good throughput.”
Patrick Zimmerman, AT&T AVP said, “We planned bigger. We refined our [network] design based on [business and consumer] requests and requirements. Because we had shared knowledge from previous big events, things worked as expected, with no major surprises.”