YOU ARE AT:CarriersCarriers prep for huge network demand at Obama's inauguration

Carriers prep for huge network demand at Obama’s inauguration

President Barack Obama’s second inauguration may break another set of attendance records: this time not in terms of people but in the number of COWs. Those are the “cells on wheels” telecom companies will be rolling out to help serve the smartphone-wielding masses at the event.

Approximately 600,000-800,000 people are expected on the National Mall for today’s inauguration, much less than the estimated 1.8 million who turned out in 2009. However, the 2013 crowd will be more well connected than the crowd was four years ago, since about half of all cell phone users today own smartphones.

Also for the first time ever, the Presidential Inauguration Committee has released an app that will help people nationwide—and at the event itself—connect via Facebook and Twitter.

The top telecom carriers have been getting ready for the surge in network demand. AT&T area retail sales manager, Ryan Joyce told The Washington Business Journal that the company has invested $815 million in the last four years to expand its wireless network in the Washington, D.C. area. AT&T will have nine COWS at the event itself, boosting capacity by 200%. It has also installed rooftop antenna sites, upgraded in-building wireless systems and added high power amplifiers to all of its antennae around the event.

Other carriers have boosted their local capacity in the years between inaugurations. Verizon increased its capacity 12-fold, and Sprint has invested approximately $300 million to improve wireless voice and data services in the Washington, D.C. area.

Sprint announced it has been “aggressively preparing” for the inauguration event itself. The carrier has increased wireless voice capacity by 25% and data capacity by 37% for numerous cell sites around the National Mall and downtown Washington, D.C. Sprint will also have three COWs at key locations around the National Mall, and it has installed in-building repeaters at three major D.C. hotels to increase wireless coverage for hotel guests and attendees of the many inauguration-related events.


Sara Zaske
Sara Zaske
Contributor, [email protected] Sara Zaske covers European carrier news for RCR Wireless News from Berlin, Germany. She has more than ten years experience in communications. Prior to moving to Germany, she worked as the communications director for the Oregon State University Foundation. She is also a former reporter with the San Francisco Examiner and Independent, where she covered development, transportation and other issues in the City of San Francisco and San Mateo County. Follow her on Twitter @szaske

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