Two titans have braced for Super Bowl weekend, but they're not competing for the NFL championship.
Instead, telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Wireless hope to survive the onslaught of phone calls, video messages, images and texts sent by thousands of fans crowding into Miami this Sunday.
AT&T has rolled in three mobile cell sites – used to relay cell phone signals between towers – to boost network capacity around Miami's Sun Life Stadium, and has another mobile cell site to cover the Fort Lauderdale hotels where the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are staying. It has also increased the capacity of permanent cell sites around Miami, Fort Lauderdale and South Beach, in hopes of ensuring a "winning wireless experience," as an AT&T announcement puts it.
The telecom's 2G and 3G networks inside the stadium also received a special boost to their voice and data capacity, so that fans can keep distant friends and family updated.
"These are two of the biggest games of the year, and fans attending them want to be able to share the experience, as it's happening, with those back home, whether its through a voice call, text message, e-mail or picture and video messaging," said Rich Guidotti, vice president and general manager for AT&T Mobility & Consumer Markets in South Florida.
Verizon Wireless took a slightly different tack by focusing on more permanent upgrades for Miami's stadium, and for the wider 3G network in South Florida. Such a permanent system can supposedly handle twice the capacity of what mobile cell sites can support at special events.
"South Florida hosts many professional and college championships, big games and other major gatherings," said Pam Tope, president of the Verizon Wireless Florida region. "We made this investment to ensure that we always have a strong wireless network for visiting fans, journalists and local wireless users whenever there is a big event."
Verizon's new system for the stadium alone includes two ground-level base stations and many antenna arrays. The telecom has also enlisted the aid of Qualcomm to "optimize" its wireless network and deal with the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected to throng South Florida.
A Verizon representative declined to give out the exact numbers of calls or messages sent from past Super Bowl games, but told TechNewsDaily that the height of this Sunday's game may see millions of calls flood the Verizon Wireless statewide network in Florida.
Both AT&T and Verizon plan on continuing to invest millions in their South Florida network to improve coverage for future events. And Verizon plans to launch its next-gen 4G wireless network in 2010, so that next year's Super Bowl fans may have even faster voice and data transfer rates to share their game day experience
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