Correction note: after this post was published it was noticed that the word billion was used inappropriate in lieu of the word million.
Brazil’s largest carriers — Vivo, Claro, Oi, TIM and Nextel — have joined together in a consortium to build distributed antenna systems (DAS) in the soccer stadiums that will host the FIFA 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup games. The estimated investment totals about $12.3 million (R$25 million) for 12 stadiums. The telecom operators did not release how much each consortium member will pay.
In Brazil, DAS initiatives are still in the early stages, which is very different from countries such as the United States, where nearly every major sporting venue and convention center has been outfitted with a distributed antenna system.
DAS essentially acts as a “tree and branch” system whereby radio capacity is concentrated at a central location and then distributed via a network of fiber-fed remote antennas that can be deployed at strategic points throughout a venue. Carriers want to use DAS to provide their customers with great Internet access while they are attending an event, including the ability to send picture messages and post text, photos and videos to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“DAS is starting late in Brazil,” said Leonardo Capdeville, director of planning and technology at Vivo, in an interview with RCR Wireless News. “But it is a very interesting way to optimize efforts. Instead of each carrier building its own system, we will share a unique system.”
Cristiane Gargaglioni, Nextel’s senior manager of planning and budget, said that the great advantage of having the consortium is the cost dilution among stakeholders. It will also make it easier to work with stadium administrators. “A shared framework in which all operators are involved is beneficial for everyone: customers, operators and administrators,” he said.
Capdeville said the consortium has already signed suppliers, including Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and CommScope.
DAS in Confederations Cup stadiums is expected to be ready by April. “It is more difficult to negotiate the installation of distributed antenna systems than actually installing them,” said Capdeville.
In addition to the stadiums, the carrier consortium’s next steps include setting up a deal with the airport administrator, Infraero, which is responsible for operating Brazil’s main commercial airports. “We are in talks,” he said.
Nextel’s Gargaglioni said that the concept of consortium already exists, for example, in shopping malls and subways, but with lower complexity. “In the case of the stadium consortium, the project’s complexity is the big challenge,” he said.