WASHINGTON-President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration is widely expected to create the greatest single one-day stress test of U.S. wireless networks. Millions of people are pouring into the nation's capital, all armed to the teeth with wireless devices, smart and not-so-smart alike.
When Obama places his right hand on the Bible and accepts the oath of office at high noon, a record 1.4 billion mobile messages studded with voice, text, videos and photos are expected to be delivered nationwide.
While wireless carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have had months to prepare for the event, wireless coverage and spectrum capacity solutions provider Powerwave Technologies got the call less than two weeks ago to help the carriers deal with what Dave Quinn, vice president of the company's Wireless Solutions Group, calls a "monumental and unprecedented challenge to U.S. wireless carriers."
No one is quite sure how many people will actually gather in Washington for the swearing in of Obama as the 44th president of the United States, but estimates range from 2 million to 4 million people, which would shatter the U.S. record of 1.2 million people for Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 inauguration.
That's just fine with Powerwave, which is no stranger to leveraging carrier capacity at massively attended events. The company, based in Santa Ana, Calif., has deployed hundreds of indoor and outdoor wireless coverage systems around the world. The deployments include the Olympic Athletic Center of Athens, the Chicago Transit Authority, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, San Francisco's Moscone Center and the 55-story high-rise Torre Mayor in Mexico City.
"The world has never had to prepare for a situation like this," Quinn said of the inauguration. "It's the most challenging event ever [for wireless carriers]. The key thing for Powerwave is that no matter how much carriers beef up their sites, only our technology can solve a problem like this. We have the equipment and the security protocols, especially the radio frequency protocols."
For the inauguration, Powerwave has peppered the capital with in-building and outdoor distributed antenna systems, all boosted by single- and dual-band repeater products. Powerwave's new Nexus FT repeaters leverage the company's energy-efficient multicarrier power amplifiers. The company's repeaters deliver built-in support for GSM, CDMA, UMTS and EVDO.
"All of the spectrum in the region has to be deployed during the event," Quinn said. "The [wireless] operators have to increase capacity but can't add power. No one channel can handle this. Our FT repeaters take the signals at the site and temporarily and remotely relocate them. All spectrum has to be brought to bear at events like this."
In addition to multicarrier and multiband support, Powerwave's high-capacity and long-reach fiber optic distribution adds up to 15 miles to an existing base station's coverage, eliminating the need to install additional macro cell sites.
"Our Nexus FT repeaters are designed to be unobtrusive and are deployable on existing infrastructure such as lamp poles, utility poles or the sides of buildings," Quinn said. "This can significantly reduce the zoning and permitting requirements and provides high-quality coverage close to the mobile user to ensure 3G and 4G capabilities can be fully realized in the coverage area."
Powerwave's repeaters are managed remotely through the company's Netway Manager, an SNMP-based platform that centrally monitors and manages critical network interconnected remote-controlled devices. An option is also available that allows the Nexus FT to be managed via a third-party SNMP-compliant NMS software package.
Powerwave's repeaters support 800MHz Public Safety, 800MHz iDEN, 850MHz Cellular, 900MHz iDEN, 1,900MHz PCS and AWS frequencies.