After last year’s embarrassment at SXSW, AT&T is going overboard to ensure a similar wireless network meltdown does not happen again this year at the annual technology conference in Austin, Texas. To avoid a second such disaster, AT&T is throwing a ton of cash and bringing in an equal amount of equipment for the SXSW conference including:
- Installing a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) at the Austin Convention Center. The DAS is comprised of 50 antenna nodes that provide the equivalent coverage of eight cell sites.
- Improving the cell sites in the surrounding area by utilizing 30MHz of spectrum for 3G instead of the standard 10MHz and upgrading the system to include the 850MHz band and HSPA.
- Bringing in three temporary cell sites that are positioned in areas expected to see high traffic.
- Improving the backhaul by beefing up the fiber optic connections that serve the eight cell sites of the DAS and the three temporary sites. According to sources within AT&T, the backhaul capacity has seen a fourfold increase.
The stakes are high for AT&T as a network failure could wipe away any gains in consumer confidence AT&T saw following its favorable review from PC World last week. With its reputation on the line, will AT&T and its 3G network rise to the occasion or will it crumble to its knees under the strain of a mob of iPhone-toting geeks? Predictions are welcome in the comments.