AT&T adds "COWS" and equipment to increase wireless capacity for Pride Parade
Chicago, IL —
AT&T customers, including those using iPhones and other smartphones, can expect to experience improved voice and mobile broadband performance during Chicago's Pride Parade as the wireless company temporarily increases network capacity in Boystown.
Over the past few years, AT&T has gained a notoriously bad reputation over various issues plaguing its network, such as dropped calls and poor coverage. These type of issues can be significantly compounded during special events, such as the parade, in which the network is severely strained by additional customers that can number in the hundreds of thousands.
To alleviate some of these general network issues, AT&T has been investing heavily in its infrastructure throughout the country. For example, the company recently announced plans to launch its faster 4G LTE network this summer in five major cities, including Chicago. Additionally, AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile also promises to improve and enhance its existing network services.
During special events that require only a temporary increase in network capacity, AT&T typically deploys mobile cell on wheels, or "COWs" as they are affectionately known in the wireless industry. COWs are designed to augment existing cell towers in a given local area by handling the increased voice and data traffic, as well as by providing Wi-Fi connectivity.
To provide better coverage during the Chicago Pride Parade, which is expected to draw nearly 500,000 people to Lakeview on June 26, AT&T has taken extra steps to handle the anticipated heavy increase in wireless traffic.
"We've upgraded all of our cell sites along the parade route with additional capacity so they can handle more voice and data traffic for our customers," AT&T Communications Director Alexa Kaufman told ChicagoPride.com.
AT&T has also partnered with some local businesses, along the parade route on Halsted St., to provide additional Wi-Fi hotspots. The company has installed equipment on the roofs of Gerber Collision & Glass and Roscoe's
that will afford AT&T customers additional Wi-Fi access points.
Robert Lee, City Market Manager at Gerber Collision & Glass, told ChicagoPride.com that they are happy to support the community in any way that they can and willingly agreed to the rooftop equipment. According to Lee, this is the first time AT&T has outfitted Gerber's roof with this equipment. If the experiment is successful, the temporary equipment may become permanent, according to Lee.
In addition to the Chicago Pride Parade, AT&T also plans to supplement its network for other Chicagoland events this summer, including the Pitch Fork Music Festival, the Bud Billiken Parade and the Air & Water Show.
Requests for comment from Verizon and T-Mobile were not immediately returned, so it is unclear whether these other carriers will also be augmenting their networks for the Chicago Pride Parade.