After more than a year of careful planning to accommodate the Democratic National Convention at Denver’s Pepsi Center, Qwest Communications found itself scrambling at the last minute to also wire up Invesco Field at Mile High, when Barack Obama’s campaign decided he would make his acceptance speech there, reports Telephony Magazine.
Invesco Field, home of the Denver Broncos, is not already a Qwest customer, and Qwest is facing considerable complications getting fiber optic connections in place to accommodate the anticipated media coverage.
While the two sites are only about a half-mile apart on the outskirts of Denver’s downtown business district, they are separated by a major freight rail line, a major interstate highway and the South Platt River, said Chuck Ward, president of Qwest’s Colorado operations.
But Qwest is not providing wireless service to the DNC. Wireless networks were deemed not secure and robust enough. “The DNC are viewing this much the same way as we are – as a very sophisticated enterprise level network they are running for this convention“, said Ward. They did not want to put any mission-critical type applications in the wireless environment.
There is too much risk of interference when you think about 20,000 people, most of which will have wireless phones. Much of the communications between cameras also is done on RF devices. The chance for interference inside Pepsi Center is pretty high, which is why the DNC chose not to put anything mission-critical on wireless networks, and we agreed with that.”
The four-week window left no time to bury fiber to Invesco, Ward said, and the company has only four days to work inside the site. “To the extent we had open conduit, we could blow some fiber in,” he said. “But Invesco is still a live venue – the Broncos play there Saturday [Aug. 23], and we get to come in after they leave the field, on Sunday morning. That gives us four days to construct all the inside infrastructure.”
Qwest will have to lay some fiber on the ground and then go to great lengths to protect it from vehicle and foot traffic, Ward said. “We are working carefully with the Invesco folks to provide the security this requires,” he said.
By contrast, plans for wiring the Pepsi Center began 18 months ago, and included what Ward calls “fiber to the parking lot.”
Qwest CTO Pieter Poll tells ZDNet they push fiber to distribution points that branch out to about 350 homes, then using copper wiring to reach the home with ADSL2+, according to Broadband Reports. AT&T’s U-Verse service uses faster VDSL modems. ADSL2+ extends the capability of basic ADSL by doubling the number of downstream bits with data rates topping out at 24 Mbit/s downstream. Poll says FTTH is too expensive.
Broadband wireless is available in Denver via Nth Air, which is launching a WiMAX service in Denver over a 3.65 GHz network.
Nth Air CEO Craig Niemeyer told RCR Wireless News (video) the service runs on Fujitsu gear with speeds to 10 megabits per second. It enables DNC “reporters or city official to file stories or transmit important information to each other.”
Nth Air is also using Airspan’s MicroMAX gear to deliver a variety of services. Their 1 Gbps backhaul uses BridgeWave point-to-point gear at 80 GHz. BridgeWave’s SLE100 point-to-point bridge at 60 GHz, delivers 100 Mbps full-duplex, half-mile (800-meter) connectivity.Sprint and Clearwire plan to jointly launch Mobile WiMax service in Denver next year.
Coordinating the wireless frequency use at the Pepsi Center is the job of Louis Libin, a telecommunications and broadcasting engineer who has helped set up networks at conventions dating all the way back to 1988. He estimates half the 21,000 convention-goers will be carrying two cell phones. There will also be 3,000 to 4,000 walkie-talkies, hundreds of wireless microphones, and wireless cameras for as many as 50 TV outlets. Plus, about thirty government agencies will be there and need to communicate. In addition to setting aside frequencies for all those, the spectrum plan can’t interfere with existing applications such as TV and local public safety, he explained.
Libin’s team applies for a Special Temporary Authorization (STA) from the FCC to get licenses for spectrum bands that each of these groups can use. Within the venues, they assign channels within unlicensed bands. Much of the 5.8GHz band commonly available for Wi-Fi will be assigned to various other types of devices, though official staff will have a private IEEE 802.11n network.
Bloggers and electronic journalists have at least one refuge at the Denver event, albeit more than a quarter mile away. The Big Tent press facility, being set up at the Alliance Center, will be covered by a Wi-Fi mesh from Meru Networks that uses the two main Wi-Fi bands and supports IEEE 802.11n.
Verizon Wireless expects to handle 5 million more calls and data transmissions than normal during the August 25-28 Democratic National Convention in Denver while Sprint will deploy an Emergency Response Team (ERT) using a Satellite Cellsite on Light Truck (SATCOLT) to stand by in case of unforeseen problems. Google will help set up a two-story, 8,000 square-foot headquarters for hundreds of bloggers (list of credentialed bloggers).
Official Providers of communications services at the DNC includes Vertigo Software, the Official Microsoft Silverlight Application Development Services Provider for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Vertigo has designed the interface for delivering live, gavel-to-gavel, high-definition (HD)-quality video through the official Convention Web site, DemConvention.com.
The DNCC has signed on ShadowTV as its Official Video Monitoring Service Provider. ShadowTV will provide allows users to search the closed-captioning text in news clips and receive real-time alerts when keywords are mentioned in television programming. Using this technology, the DNCC will be able to retrieve footage instantly from more than 250 television stations across the country.
Google has launched a mobile microsite dedicated to the Presidential race. The destination, m.google.com/elections, offers links to election-related news; mobile YouTube channels from both Barack Obama and John McCain; maps of Denver and Minneapolis (where next week’s Republican National Convention will be held) and other information.