Verizon upgrades network for inauguration

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Operator will boost data capacity in Washington by more than 500% to handle extra demand in the US capital

Verizon Matsing Ball

Verizon has announced a number of significant network upgrades in Washington DC ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump later this month.

The operator has boosted its data capacity in the US capital by more than 500% as it prepares for more than one million attendees to see Trump become the 45th President of the United States on 20 January.

Verizon said it will use the inauguration to trial a new self-optimising antenna technology known as Remote Electrical Tilt (RET) to adjust antennas and wireless capacity depending on the movement.

The operator will set up temporary cell sites along the National Mall, using RET and Matsing Ball technology (pictured, above) to improve signal. Matsing Ball will allow its engineers to split the crowd into sectors, which can then be adjusted individually to optimise the traffic on Verizon’s network.

Permanent sites in the surrounding areas have also been upgraded with RET antennas, Verizon said in a blog post, and will be maintained after Trump is sworn-in.

Verizon said it will also use three-channel carrier aggregation to enhance peak data speeds by up to 50%. It began rolling out two-carried aggregation in August.

“Verizon customers attending the Inauguration will have early access to these new technological advancements we are deploying widely throughout our network in 2017,” said Verizon Wireless chief network officer Nicola Palmer. “Our customers have always had the leading technologies first, providing them with the best experience.”

The upgrade comes as demand on the operator’s network is expected to be significantly higher than the inauguration of Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, in 2009.

Then, only 10% of US citizens owned a smartphone, compared with 88% penetration today. 4G had yet to launch, but now more than 95% of Verizon’s data traffic runs on its LTE network.

“We’ve been preparing our network in the D.C. area for months to be ready for this historic event. Verizon customers at the inauguration will be using Instagram, SnapChat, and Twitter to share photos and videos of the swearing in ceremony, run Facebook Live while attending the parade, and connect with folks back home, all from their wireless devices,” added Palmer.

Trump beat Hillary Clinton to be named the next US President in a surprise election win in November. He has since made a number of moves that could potentially shake-up the US telecoms market, including an overhaul of the FCC that has seen two recent appointments made to the regulator’s landing team.