AT&T West: TCU’s stadium revs up Wi-Fi network

10/25/2013 6:02 PM

10/26/2013 1:15 AM

If fans want to text or tweet about whether TCU quarterback Casey Pachall should play or debate University of Texas coach Mack Brown’s future, they shouldn’t have any problems using their smartphones Saturday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

When a renovation was completed last year, the entire stadium was set up with cellular service.

While Wi-Fi has already been up and running in the suites, the press box and some other areas, it’s now available throughout the stadium. AT&T officials say the Digital Antenna System is equivalent to seven cell sites — enough capacity to serve a city the size of Allen, population 89,210, in Collin County.

There are more than 140 antennas inside and around the stadium and roughly 40,000 feet of coaxial cable. The Wi-Fi network contains more than 345 access points throughout the stadium.

“What we’ve essentially done in the stadium is launch a Wi-Fi network to allow fans to have an excellent experience inside the stadium on game day,” said Chad Townes, AT&T’s vice president for antenna solutions.

TCU fans who have had trouble accessing Wi-Fi at previous games should have no problems at the UT game, which is a sellout.

The system is designed to cover specific zones of the stadium so there should be enough capacity for everyone. AT&T customers should be able to connect seamlessly, but those with smartphones on other carriers like Verizon or Sprint will go to a click-through page and then connect. They will have to accept terms of use but won’t have to provide personal information.

All the carriers share one set of antennas inside the stadium, but each cellular carrier “has to make an investment in their own equipment,” Townes said.

TCU officials say cellular and Wi-Fi were incorporated into the plans as the stadium renovation was conceived.

“Our vision was that any fan that came to Amon G. Carter Stadium would not experience some of the frustrations I’ve experienced as a fan when I go to larger venues or anywhere there are large crowds,” said Travis Cook, TCU’s deputy chief technology officer.

“… With the partnership between TCU and AT&T, we’ve created a scenario where our fans can post to Twitter, Facebook, check email, text, make a phone call or even place an order for food or drink from their seat.”

With the digital information displayed on flat screens throughout the stadium, AT&T said, the venue is as connected as any college football stadium in the country.

A new stadium app is also in the works, and there are plans to add a second 4G LTE carrier next year as more people upgrade their smartphones.

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