Monday, September 22, 2008

Belmont has a COW to improve cell service

iPhone users will notice a unique benefit to the Belmont debate: better service, thanks to a couple of giant antennas latched to a truck on campus. The COW, or Cellular on Wheels, truck is courtesy of AT&T, which is handling all of the telecommunications for the event.

The truck was brought in to handle all media calls and wireless Internet cards, said Randall Reynolds, director of technology services for Belmont. It would normally cost about $30,000 to operate, but the company is providing it as part of its sponsorship of the debate. (The school will spend about $6,000 overall in wireless upgrades, Reynolds said.)

“There’s enough service for AT&T in the area, but not for the number of people in the footprint,” Reynolds said.

The truck will improve 3G broadband performance for AT&T users, which will directly impact users of the new iPhone. Residents near the university might also find they have better cell phone service, Reynolds said.

“If they didn’t have good cell phone service before with AT&T, they might now,” Reynolds said.

But users of other wireless providers should also see better service. Verizon has added a tower on one side of the soccer field near the media tent, and other providers will also use that tower, Reynolds said.

Thanks to permanent antennas added to the Curb Event Center, cell phone service for AT&T and Verizon customers will also improve in the arena, Reynolds said. Which of course begs the question: Who’s going to send the first text message from inside the debate hall?

No comments: