With an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people expected to attend this week’s inauguration of President Obama, carriers completed exhaustive system enhancements to prepare for the influx of people.
Final preparations for Sprint included deploying three cell sites on wheels (COWs) at key locations on the National Mall and installing in-building repeaters at the Capital Hilton hotel, the Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel, and The Mayflower Renaissance Washington D.C. Hotel to boost wireless coverage. Sprint has been preparing for the inauguration since April 2012, boosting wireless voice capacity by 25 percent and increasing data capacity by 37 percent for numerous cell sites around the National Mall and the downtown area.
AT&T has spent $4 million beefing up capacity along the parade route. Nine COWs were deployed, which will increase capacity on the Mall by 200 percent. In-building systems have been upgraded and temporary rooftop antennas have been implemented with high-power amplifiers along the inaugural parade route, according to a report in the Washington Business Journal.
In total, AT&T spent $850 million on wireless infrastructure in the Washington area in the last four years. Between the last inauguration in 2009 and the end of 2011, Sprint invested $300 million in its wireless network in the Washington, D.C. market. Not much has been released about Verizon Wireless’ inaugural wireless preparations, but in 2010 the carrier did turn on its LTE network in Washington, D.C., which increased speeds 10X.
Sprint’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) is also assisting public safety communications, supplying a satellite cell site on light truck for dedicated wireless network coverage, as well as interoperability among private radio networks completely independent of the local power, telephone, and terrestrial IP infrastructure.
Additionally, ERT will provide Direct Connect handsets and services to first responders for redundant, interoperable communications between the various agencies. Law enforcement personnel will also be given access to remote, high-bandwidth satellite IP data services and GPS tracking systems will be available for ambulances and para-transit vehicles.
Since its creation, Sprint’s ERT has conducted more than 5,200 deployments, and provided emergency wireless support for more than 1,250 events.