AT&T’s cellular network performed the best during the Presidential Inauguration last week according to a survey conducted by GWS. GWS established sites at the National Mall and other areas along the parade route and used their diagnostic application running on a fleet of Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphones. This diagnostic application was used to benchmark the four national carriers when placing calls, uploading videos and accessing social media websites and services - to the tune of over 15,000 tests during the seven hour test period. The result of this test is that AT&T’s network performed the best and by a long margin: “AT&T’s throughput was, on average, double that (or more) of its closest competitor.” GWS also explained that during testing at the Mall, Sprint’s network failed to complete its task more than 40% of the time. Well done AT&T!
GWS’ Chief Executive Officer, Paul Carter, explained that all four carriers had a challenge to provide a fast and reliable service during the inauguration as thousands of customers could potentially be using their devices at the same time. He explained that: “In order to meet this unusual demand in service, the operators had to go the extra mile to prepare and bolster their networks, and our tests showed that for the most part this challenge was met.” We have already seen how some carriers are working towards boosting their coverage for the superbowl, due to happen in early February.
Carriers often bolster their network in areas holding a major event, such as the Presidential Inauguration or the Superbowl. AT&T explained earlier in January that the carrier had invested $15 million into its network in the Washington D.C. area. This had increased its LTE capacity by over 400%. America’s second largest carrier explained that it had either installed or upgraded twenty distributed antenna systems at “major venues,” upgraded twenty permanent LTE sites and used seven “Super Cell On Wheels” facilities, known as COWs in the industry. Verizon Wireless explained that they were using Remote Electrical Tilt antennas plus other technologies to boost capacity by 500%. Sprint doubled its 1.9 GHz cell site capacity at the Mall and Metro locations, plus included carrier aggregation at its 2.5 GHz sites in order to accelerate LTE data speeds. T-Mobile US deployed a number of LTE Advanced technologies, including 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM, both of which are designed to increase capacity and performance of the network. Carriers typically tune the improvements to their networks so as to increase the uplink capacity progressively more than the downlink capacity, as many customers will be updating social media with pictures and even videos of what they are seeing at the time.