How AT&T Handled iPhone Onslaught At SXSW 2010

News | Tuesday March 9 2010 10:57 AM | Comments (0) Tags: , , , ,

I’m happy to report that the network has been incredibly stable over the past several days. In fact, it’s the best I’ve ever seen AT&T’s network perform — anywhere. Over the past three days I haven’t dropped one call, haven’t missed one voicemail, haven’t been missed any text messages, and the data is flowing freely, allowing my iPhone to actually work.
The fact that AT&T is actually working like a network you pay $100-a-month for is notable because last year at the same conference, AT&T suffered a complete and utter meltdown. Strained to the point of pretty much continuous failure under the weight of smart phones (and yes, the iPhone in particular), AT&T had to hustle to bring in backup systems to get the network at least somewhat working over the last few days of the interactive part of the conference last year.
With as many as 15,000 SXSW attendees, plus many more who are here for the accompanying film festival, and iPhones everywhere you can see, it does appear that AT&T has delivered.
“It seems really good,” said Marc LaSpina, a Web architect from Cleveland. “I haven't had any problems with it.”
o This system provides the equivalent coverage of eight cell sites, with 50 antenna nodes providing coverage throughout the venue.
o The system was completed in recent weeks.
Dramatic expansion of network capacity from cell sites to user devices.
o Over the past year, we’ve moved from one radio network “carrier” to three, which enables us to support more traffic over existing spectrum.
o We’ve expanded capacity using high-quality 850 MHz spectrum, which also offers improvements to in-building coverage via a signal that can better penetrate walls than signals at other frequencies.
o We have deployed HSPA 7.2 software at all of our 3G cell towers nationwide. While this upgrade is not expected to provide a noticeable immediate boost in average speeds until Ethernet backhaul is in place, it does result in a better overall customer experience by generally improving consistency in accessing data sessions. It also prepares the network for faster speeds and increases network efficiency.
Three temporary cell sites.
o Two Cells on Wheels (COWS) will be used, as well as a third temporary site on a building rooftop.
o The three temporary sites will provide AT&T Wi-Fi as well as 3G service.
o These temporary sites are being placed to maximize coverage in areas of the city where we expect to see the highest levels of network traffic during the event.
Augmented backhaul capacity to cell sites surrounding the event venues.
o Compared with last year, we have added fiber-optic connections to more than quadruple the backhaul capacity of each of the eight cell sites that serve the event area, and temporary sites will also be served by extensive backhaul.
A team of AT&T network engineers will monitor our network 24/7 throughout the duration of the event to help ensure the network’s performance is meeting our customers’ needs.
We worked directly with SXSW organizers to develop and implement our network enhancement plans.
It is great to see AT&T taking proactive steps to ensure iPhone users didn’t face network issues during this year’s event.
if AT&T can similarly address problems in high iPhone density cities like New York and San Francisco, especially since it also has the
Let us know in the comments.

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