Pierson Wireless

Under-seat Antennas Triple Network Capacity

The San Francisco Giants are busily ramping up for next season with the help of  an offseason experiment by AT&T, that just may change the way sports venues and carriers think about cellular deployment. A massive installation of under-seat antennas has significantly improved the cellular capacity at AT&T Park for AT&T customers, according to the team and the carrier.

By installing cellular antennas inside 916 existing under-seat Wi-Fi antenna enclosures, AT&T and the Giants made a huge bet that by densifying the coverage, they could significantly improve the cellular experience for AT&T customers at the ballpark.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • an offseason experiment by AT&T and the San Francisco Giants may change the way sports venues and carriers think about cellular deployment
  • at the past three Super Bowls, Verizon Wireless has increased DAS capacity by using extra DAS antenna installations under seats
  • since AT&T customers typically are in the majority at most AT&T Park events, by moving many of them to a new network, the team was able to effectively free up space on the regular DAS

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“Imagine if the other carriers were able to leverage this new AT&T cellular network,” Schlough said. “Could it come to a point where we ask ourselves, do we need Wi-Fi anymore?”

Some venues, of course, may want to keep expanding their Wi-Fi systems since by owning the network they also own the network user data, a trove of information not usually shared by wireless carriers for DAS usage. But unlike some theoretical 5G designs — which may call for “microantennas” in a much larger number — the more-dense via piggybacking on Wi-Fi idea may have some legs.

“If you have a greenfield design it may make sense to use microantennas everywhere,” Spencer said. “This deployment was pragmatic, and it works.”

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