Boosting cell service ahead of Super Bowl 52

Countdown to Super Bowl 52: Cell phone service improvements

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lots of changes and improvements are being made ahead of Super Bowl LII, including cell service.

Cell phone providers want to make sure everyone is able to stay connected during the big game.

"We want them to be able to share with their friends and families... Snapchat, Facebook posts, selfies and have a seamless experience on our network," said Diana Scudder, executive director of Network Assurance for Verizon Wireless.

To make that happen, Verizon is using small cell technology.

"Small cells actually alleviate the capacity on our macro network so that we can handle that influx of traffic so that it's seamless to the customer and they're able to get their tweets, or their photos, or anything they're trying to share across the network quickly," Scudder said.

According to Scudder, Verizon has hundreds of small cells throughout the Twin Cities area. They're attached to existing structures, like street lights and utility poles, and painted so they blend in.

"You have a radio with an antenna and you use the power from the pole and you connect it back into our network core with dark fiber," Scudder explained.

Verizon started building small cells across the country in 2013 and in Minnesota in 2014. Scudder said Verizon has more than doubled the number of small cells in the Twin Cities area over the last year and have many more they're deploying between now and the Super Bowl to get ready.

"Normal cell towers, they're typically larger in size and they serve a couple miles of area but it's very difficult to penetrate indoors in an urban environment. So these small cells are strategically placed to help us, not only with the outdoor capacity and coverage, but they also help amplify and boost the signal indoors to support our customers," Scudder said.

"It's literally setting the groundwork so that we can move from the 4G world to the 5G world, which is groundbreaking," said Rep. Marion O'Neill, R-Maple Lake.

Rep. O'Neill helped pave the way with legislation that streamlines the deployment of small cells in the Twin Cities and beyond. The bill, approved earlier this year, regulates the technology.

"It just lays down a nice groundwork of regulation and price certainty so that the cell providers can come in and actually build this amazing infrastructure out," Rep. O'Neill said.

While cell phone providers are deploying small cells ahead of the Super Bowl, they will stay up after the big game.

"Maybe once it's fully deployed you could just work from home. It might affect all kinds of things. A small, rural hospital might be able to have telecommunications as far as telemedicine and things like that. So the possibilities of this technology are literally game-changing," Rep. O'Neill said.

Verizon isn't the only provider using small cell technology. Sprint already had small cells deployed in the Twin Cities, while AT&T and T-Mobile are in the process of making it happen.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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