Rob Todd Quoted in St. Louis Business Journal

June 17, 2014

Despite a “multi-million dollar investment” by AT&T and similar investments by Verizon to boost cell phone coverage, we’ve heard from readers that coverage at Busch Stadium during the World Series was, well, spotty to say the least.

AT&T didn’t share how many complaints the company received from baseball fans, but rather said that its coverage was used at a record-breaking pace.

According to AT&T spokeswoman Katie Nagus, data usage on its in-stadium network during Game 4 was more than 196 gigabytes. Nagus said 196 gigabytes is equal to more than 560,000 social media posts with photos or more than 6,560 hours of streaming music.

AT&T installed its in-stadium network or Distributed Antenna System (DAS) last year. The system essentially converts the stadium into its own cell tower, providing a strong single for fans, according to Rob Todd, founder of Houston-based Molitoris Group, which handles cellular and Wi-Fi installation projects for entertainment venues.

“They just didn’t build a big enough system,” he said.

Not true, according to Chad Townes, vice president of AT&T’s Antenna Solutions Group, which oversees stadium and large venue wireless installations. He said only about 1.5 percent of all messages failed on the first attempt during Game 5 of the World Series. He said the in-stadium network has the capacity to accommodate the maximum number of fans at Busch Stadium, about 46,861.

The in-stadium network is divided into 15 different zones scattered throughout Busch Stadium, each acting as its own mini cell tower. Townes said a system like the one inside Busch costs between $3 million to $4 million to install plus extra fees for carriers. Carriers are the devices that allow texts, tweets and other data to be sent from phones. Other cell companies install their own carriers to the network, but AT&T built the in-stadium network.

Verizon Spokeswoman Brenda Hill also would not say how many complaints the company received, but said it installed temporary mobile cell phone towers outside the stadium separate from the in-stadium network.

Did you experience poor cell service inside Busch Stadium during the World Series? Let us know in the comments below.

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