Sprint spruces up its network for inauguration communication demands

Sprint Nextel has boosted network capacity to accommodate the communications demands of federal agencies and public safety personnel supporting the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama next month, company officials said today.

The historic nature of the inauguration has generated large-scale interest in the event. Some reports estimate that a crowd of 1 million people will descend on Washington to witness the event.

Sprint has been planning for the 2009 inauguration since April, officials said. They added that the company has a proven record in meeting the communications needs of large events, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, New York City’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, Obama’s election night rally in Chicago’s Grant Park and the recent G8 Summit in Washington.

Sprint’s network preparations have focused on the National Mall, key public safety and public service locations, transportation arteries, and the extended metropolitan area, said Bill Toth, vice president for Northeast region field engineering and operations at Sprint Nextel.

Sprint’s Code Division Multiple Access network has sufficient capacity to accommodate National Mall events year-round. However, the company augmented voice, data and push-to-talk mobile capabilities by 40 percent to satisfy needs on Inauguration Day, Toth said.

Technical response teams are poised to immediately respond to unforeseen issues, he added.

Sprint has augmented its Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN) capabilities by 90 percent to meet the need for subsecond push-to-talk services by public safety and service partners, he added.

To accommodate key defense partners and constituents, Sprint has enhanced its coverage in buildings such as the House and Senate buildings and certain Smithsonian museums.

Sprint has also optimized its networks to handle additional wireless traffic in and out of the city. The company enhanced wireless coverage and capacity at Metro entrances. However, Sprint’s roaming partner provides coverage once users are in the subway system.

The company also optimized voice and data coverage and capacity at additional points of interest for the festivities — including Union Station; Capitol Hill; the K Street corridor; the Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan and Georgetown neighborhoods; airports; and the major thoroughfares into the city.

Sprint’s Emergency Response Team (ERT), which partners with public- and private-sector clients during crises and events, has augmented its capabilities to meet the demands of the 2009 inauguration, said Tanya Lin, manager of operations for Sprint ERT.

The team will deploy additional employees and rent handsets to multiple agencies with priority services. ERT will have more than 25,000 Nextel Direct Connect handsets available for short-term communication rentals, Lin said.

ERT plans to deploy a forward command vehicle with personnel and more than 1,000 active handsets. In addition, Sprint will use its ERT SatCOLT with a network to provide additional, enhanced coverage. The ERT SatCOLT is a satellite-based cell-on-light-truck Sprint Nextel designed to facilitate rapid deployment in remote and/or disaster environments. It is a full iDEN cell site that is connected to the larger Nextel National Network.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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