How Verizon Wireless is Preparing its Network for the Indianapolis 500
Have you ever been to a crowded event with tens, or even hundreds of thousands of people in attendance? If so, you may have noticed that it can became difficult or impossible to use your smartphone’s connection with so many other people also trying to access the same network in such a small area. It is a pretty common problem that can result in wireless customers not being able to place or receive phone calls, send out texts or use their data connection. Not only is it a major inconvenience to paying customers, but it is also a safety concern.
Thankfully, Verizon Wireless is doing its part to help ensure that their customers won’t run into those kind of issues during this year’s Indianapolis 500, which is expected to draw in a huge crowd of over 300,000 people.
Earlier this week, Verizon was kind enough to give me a tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so that I could see all of the technology and hard work that goes into preparing for the massive increase in network usage that an event like this can cause.
The tour of Verizon’s efforts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway started with the little guy you see in the picture above. That is ANT-01, it is one of the over 200 DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) antennas that have been installed all around the IMS property. I’d never heard of DAS before the tour, but it turns out that they work by taking the available capacity from a cell and distributing it among numerous antennas, which allows Verizon to have far greater control of where additional cellular coverage is available at. With all of those antennas and miles worth of cabling, Verizon can add capacity to high-traffic areas and wherever else it is needed.
The DAS antennas that Verizon has brought to IMS come in different shapes and sizes depending on where they are being used. Many of the antennas found indoors are round in shape and a bit smaller than the type that are installed in the grandstands, which are large, rectangles that are about 2.5 feet long in length. If you’re attending the big race this year, take a moment to look towards the back and up, you’re bound to see a few of Verizon’s antennas if you do, as Verizon has mounted them in every section of the grandstands.
Verizon has also brought in two of their COLTs (Cells On Light Trucks) to provide temporary additional capacity in specific locations along the west side of the track. These COLTs will help take care of the increased demands from crowds on foot and in the parking lot.
Users of newer Verizon Wireless smartphones will appreciate the fact that Verizon has deployed Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) at the track as well. AWS is the name of Verizon’s latest wireless telecommunications spectrum bands, it aims to provide faster speeds and an enhanced experience to anyone who has a compatible device. Since only the newer, AWS-enabled devices can take advantage of Verizon’s latest spectrum, those who are fortunate enough to have one will have all of that bandwidth to themselves.
The DAS setup, COLTs and AWS will help provide fast 4G LTE data for users of Verizon’s IndyCar 14 app, which includes a ton of features that make it a great companion for anyone who is watching the race, whether at the track or on television. With it, you can enjoy live streaming from IMS, watch replays, and keep up with live data about the track and your favorite teams. The IndyCar 14 app is exclusive to Verizon Wireless devices and is available for free from the Google Play and iTunes app stores.
The tour ended with us meeting Howard, he is part of a team of Verizon Wireless network testers that have been driving and walking all over the IMS property throughout the entire month of May. As the testers cover ground, special testing equipment records data about how Verizon’s network is performing. That data is later uploaded where it can be analysed and is ultimately used to help Verizon ensure that their network is the most reliable and to spot any areas that may need attention. I was fortunate enough to get an inside look at how Verizon Wireless test their network last year, and it was interesting to speak with Howard about the work he and other testers are doing at the track.
After the tour had officially ended, a few of us stuck around and took the opportunity to roam around IMS during a practice day. I was a little surprised by how close they actually let us get to the action. At times, I was no more than a few feet away from cars in the pit, which is a really bad spot to be standing when they start their engine and you’re not wearing any hearing protection.
All in All, it was a very informative and enjoyable day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What I learned during the tour only reinforced what I already knew about Verizon Wireless, they are truly committed to providing the most reliable network possible for their customers. Thanks to all of the work they’ve done at IMS, Verizon customers should have no problems calling, texting, tweeting, posting and surfing the web during this year’s big race.