RNC, DNC represent big opportunities for operators to strut their stuff

In our latest FierceWirelessTech feature, we take a look at what major U.S. wireless operators are doing to enhance coverage and capacity for this month's Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia.

Wireless operators have a lot of experience preparing for major events where attendees are tweeting, sending social media updates and streaming video in unprecedented volumes. Super Bowls consistently present opportunities to flex their muscles and deploy upgrades via additional spectrum bands, small cells, distributed antenna systems (DAS) and more.

The RNC and DNC might be akin to a major sporting event – plenty of punches will be thrown by all sides – but unlike a football game, some of the biggest high-traffic times are known ahead of time. That doesn't necessarily make it any easier to plan for it, however. "You have to prepare for the maximum in every scenario," Christy Moore, AT&T area network manager who is overseeing convention preparations in Cleveland, told FierceWirelessTech. "It's a 24/7 event" when you consider the areas surrounding the main venues. Attendees expect to get good coverage wherever they happen to be. 

While the main venues in both cities are getting massive upgrades both for capacity and overall RF coverage, all these improvements also spell good news for the smaller venues surrounding them, according to Ken Sandfeld, president of DAS technology provider SOLiD Americas.

"We're seeing an uptick in the last year" for smaller projects like hotels, hospitals, universities, he told FierceWirelessTech. While a lot of new technology seems to emerge every day to compete with DAS, he said new DAS technology also is leading to lower costs of installation and lowering the overall cost of ownership.

For more on what AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are doing to prepare for the conventions, check out this special report. While the race is on for every mobile carrier to prove their mettle during these major political events, the stakes may be higher than ever. After all, no one wants to hear "You're fired!" for shoddy cellular coverage.--Monica