Wireless companies boost signal at Heinz Field
By Aaron Aupperlee
Published: Friday, July 12, 2013, 10:31 p.m.
If going to the game just isn't enough, wireless companies will make it easier for fans to text, tweet, post photos and update their Facebook status during Steelers games this fall.
Verizon booted up its upgraded wireless network at Heinz Field in time for last week's Taylor Swift concert. After seeing a significant spike in traffic during the concert, Sprint decided to make similar upgrades and will wheel in a portable antenna in the meantime.
“It was a trigger event for us,” Sprint spokeswoman Kelly Schlageter said. “There was a huge crunch for us, and we needed to add capacity.”
Too many people on cellphones in a concentrated location can overload the capacity of nearby towers and antennas, said Alex Hills, a distinguished service professor in engineering and public policy and electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
The explosion of smartphones and people texting, sending photos and videos — and posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks — floods towers with data.
“When it's full, it's full,” Hills said, adding that people must wait for a spot to open on the tower before connecting a call or sending a tweet.
To address the problem, wireless networks install dedicated antenna systems at venues where large crowds typically gather. AT&T installed hundreds of small wireless signal transmitter/receivers at Heinz Field to build a “distributed antenna system” in October.
Verizon followed suit, building its antenna system in time for the Swift concert, said Don Carretta, executive director of Verizon's network in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Sprint will roll out its antenna system in six to eight months, Schlageter said.
The upgraded systems are not foolproof, however. Some AT&T and Verizon customers reported problems at the Swift concert.
Shanna Canarini, 20, drove from Lowell, Ind., about 45 miles south of Chicago, to see Taylor Swift at Heinz Field. She has AT&T service and tried several times to send photos and texts to family and friends before giving up.
Brittany Williams, 21, of LaPlace, La., about 30 miles west of New Orleans, did not mind her limited connection to social media. She wanted to enjoy the concert.
“However, when I touched Taylor's hand, I tried texting my mom and aunt, because I was so excited and wanted to share it instantly,” she said.
The text did not make it, and Williams, still excited but a little frustrated, had to wait to tell them after the show.
Aaron Aupperlee is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7986 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins insider: Malkin found confidence in Game 3
- Switch in pairings helps Penguins defensemen find groove in Game 3
- Former PPG executive indicted in fatal NH crash
- Kovacevic: No science to solving power play
- Wilkinsburg woman, 24, dies in crash
- SCI-Pittsburgh inmate taken to AGH after ‘severe beating’
- Maatta not a top rookie finalist
- Heyl: Even crooks know UPMC’s full of it
- Eddie Merlot’s steakhouse attracts with menu, wines, decor
- Alaska’s Iditarod Trail challenges Unity couple
- Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett wants candidate Wolf to release tax records