Carriers Deploy More Towers, Antennas to Handle ‘Super’ Demand


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One of Verizon’s small cells outside U.S. Bank stadium and Verizon handrail antennas inside enhance wireless data capacity for the event

Wireless carriers are prepared for record mobile data use in and around U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis this weekend for the Super Bowl. Nearly 70,000 fans will be in the stadium and another one million visitors are expected to use their smartphones and other mobile devices in the area.


Upgrades consisting of macro towers, small cell and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are part of the mix, according to a blog post on Medium by Kristen Beckman, Community Manager of the Wireless Infrastructure Association. Verizon has been preparing for two years; it deployed 24 macro cell tower sites and 230+ small cells. The new infrastructure combined, boosted Verizon’s network capacity in the Twin Cities metro by 500 percent, according to the carrier. 

In downtown Minneapolis, which is hosting the free football festival Super Bowl Live, Verizon doubled its network capacity on Nicollet Mall by placing small cells in bus shelters, a new solution for the carrier. “Verizon also installed security cameras on street lights with its small cells in the downtown area in partnership with the city of Minneapolis and bolstered capacity at the Mall of America and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport with neutral-host DAS equipment,” writes Beckman. Inside the stadium, Verizon added 48 percent more antennas to its DAS, using drinkrail, handrail and under-the-seat antennas, as well as Matsing Ball antennas, installed 330 feet above the field.


AT&T invested $40 million in permanent and temporary network upgrades to its Minneapolis network during the past year. Within the stadium, AT&T upgraded its DAS system, adding nearly 220 percent more LTE capacity from the start of the 2017 season. More than 800 antennas are deployed in the stadium, AT&T said.

Outside the stadium, AT&T added or upgraded DAS equipment in 16 locations, including at hotels, arenas, airports, convention centers and other venues where fans are expected to congregate. In addition to an upgraded DAS at Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport and the convention center, a new DAS was deployed at the Armory to enhance coverage for fans attending the concert venue each night leading up to the game. AT&T will deploy 10 temporary Cells on Wheels to handle increased wireless demands.


T-Mobile expanded coverage and permanently increased LTE capacity in and around Minneapolis/Saint Paul with small cells, DAS equipment and additional backhaul. “T-Mobile said it focused its network enhancements where the biggest crowds will be, boosting capacity 30x for spectators at U.S. Bank Stadium, 35x for the Super Bowl Experience at the Minneapolis Convention Center, 16x at the Xcel Energy Center for Super Bowl Opening Night, and 8x at the Armory, Nicollet Mall, downtown Saint Paul, the Mall of America and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport,” according to Beckman.

T-Mobile is using carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO and 256 QAM technologies to increase download speeds, and expanded coverage with 120 new small cells throughout the city, stadium and surrounding venues. The carrier deployed Centralized Radio Access Network technology to increase upload speeds by up to 40 percent.


Sprint too, has been working for the past year to upgrade its Twin Cities network. The carrier employed three-channel carrier aggregation — 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz, and 2.5 GHz — across 400 cell sites, and installed 200 small cells using 2.5 GHz spectrum in both the stadium and on lamp posts and street lights.

The carrier installed 800 DAS antennas inside US Bank Stadium, and provided hundreds of Sprint Magic Boxes — labeled the world’s first wireless small cells — to local businesses to boost indoor data speeds by an average of 200 percent. Sprint upgraded or installed new indoor systems at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Hyatt Regency, Target Center, Xcel Energy Center, and other city venues across Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

February 2, 2018                   

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