Verizon Adds Cellular Tower Power at Michigan Speedway

Portable cellular tower on light truck -- aka a "COLT." Credit: Verizon Wireless

As more and more fans bring their new high-powered cell phones to sporting events, wireless operators are being forced to scramble to support the new demand for bandwidth by adding portable cell towers or Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Making lemonade from the sour problem today was Verizon Wireless, which issued a press release trumpeting its attempts to provide more cellular bandwidth to the thousands of NASCAR fans who will visit Michigan International Speedway this summer, especially the big crowds expected at Sunday’s NASCAR race.

Verizon’s quick fix to handle the crowd (the speedway has 106,000 reserved grandstand seats) is something called a COLT, or Cell on Light Truck, a mobile cell antenna unit that Verizon says “will boost voice capacity by 200 percent and data capacity by 1,000 percent” in the greater speedway vicinity. Here’s the money quote from the press release:

“Ensuring our customers can count on their wireless devices for communication, news and more at major sporting events, like the races held at MIS is part of our ongoing commitment to network reliability,” said John Granby, president–Michigan/Indiana/Kentucky Region, Verizon Wireless. “We look at how our customers’ usage patterns are changing at events like these and we use this information to make sure we stay well ahead of their demand.”

What Verizon left unsaid was why it had to scramble to add portable cellular power in the first place — namely it’s the crush of new bandwidth demand precipitated by people bringing their iPhones and other superphones that Verizon and its competitors have been busy selling selling selling to large-gathering public venues like stadiums and malls. Like Verizon, expect all the other major carriers to follow suit the rest of the year by telling you how great it is that they are adding additional capacity to handle the crunch caused by selling all those phones that are overpowering their old networks.

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