Super Bowl first to get 4G coverage

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Superbowl XVLI in Indianapolis will be the first-ever with widespread 4G and WiFi access.

Photo: Alan Petersime, Courtesy of Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless announced Monday that in 2011, it spent $160 million on cellular technology in Indiana alone. Most of the money was spent building new cell towers but some was targeted specifically at upcoming Superbowl XLVI.

Although 4G is not a brand new technology, spokeswoman, Michelle Gilbert, says the devices that support it are only recently available.

“Last year, we had 4G in Dallas but what we didn’t have was 4G capable smart phones and tablets, so, this year, as the variety of 4G devices has become more prominent and people are relying on them for watching video and video chatting,” she says. “We expect there will be a lot of people using those features that really were not available until today.”

Both Verizon and AT&T built new Distributed Antenna Systems or DAS’ in Indianapolis in order to handle the enormous data transfer volume. Gilbert says Verizon is ready with its new infrastructure.

“In essence, it provides a lot of capacity in a very condensed area where there are a lot of people.”

AT&T’s regional spokesperson was unavailable for comment for this story. However, according to a press release, AT&T’s new antenna system can handle as much data as 10 conventional cell towers. In addition to the permanent fixtures, AT&T will also be bringing in nine trucks that act as mobile towers.

Taulbee Jackson heads the Social Media Command Center for the Superbowl Host Committee and says advancements in mobile technology are a necessity for the evolution of social media’s involvement in events such as the Super Bowl.

“The Superbowl here in Indianapolis is breaking a lot of new ground, and having the backbone and the technical infrastructure to deal with all of the new levels of engagement around social media is just critical,” Jackson says. “It’s not just voice and data that’s happening here, it’s people bringing this event to life over 4G and 3G towers.”

4G data speeds can be as much as 10 times faster than 3G.

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