Light Reading

AT&T Deploys Small Cells & More at Disney

Dan Jones
2/18/2014
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We now know where AT&T has deployed a few more of the 40,000-plus small cells it plans to roll out by the end of 2015, and it turns out that they might have mouse ears.

The operator revealed Tuesday that it has deployed more than 350 small cells, 25 distributed antenna systems (DAS), and 40 repeaters at the two big Disney theme parks in California and Florida, and at Disney hotels in Hawaii, California, Florida, and Hilton Head, SC. The operator says that it has used both 3G and LTE technology for the Disney roll-out.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s senior executive vice president of technology and network operations, John Donovan, writes in a blog that the deployments, which took place in 2013, have boosted voice and data usage on the networks at the resorts:

    While these solutions are designed to go unnoticed, blending seamlessly into the aesthetics of the Disney Parks and Resorts, their impact has been easy to see. Small cells have provided coverage boosts in areas with geographic cellular challenges and are mostly located in offices, administrative areas and tunnels used by cast members. In both Orlando and Anaheim, our engineers have found the areas with small cells have experienced a more than 10x increase in mobile voice and data traffic on our network. And at the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort, our monitoring has shown the DAS technology has consistently received high marks for network voice and data reliability.

Here's a video from the operator about the Disney deployment:

This is the first time that AT&T has deployed outdoor Distributed Antenna Systems (oDAS) and indoor DAS (iDAS), repeaters, and small cells on a large scale at one location, Donovan writes. The operator has previously said that it has small cells deployed in 18 US states.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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swattz101
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swattz101,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/20/2014 | 12:53:49 PM
Re: The most connected place on earth
I understand the app helps by letting you know wait times, which can enhance your experience by not waiting in line. :-)


I also expect some families / groups split up. Having better coverage can help to find each other.
MarkC73
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MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2014 | 3:14:27 PM
Re: The most connected place on earth
@Dan, thanks for the info, looks like DAS is picking up speed.
MarkC73
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MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2014 | 3:12:44 PM
Re: The most connected place on earth
You mean they don't have tour and map apps that you can run run on your phone?  I would have thought Disney would have done that a long time ago to enhance the park experience.  Time to write an email!  Or a maybe they want to sell more park 'behind the scenes' tours ...  of which I'd recommend btw.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
2/19/2014 | 12:34:18 PM
Re: The most connected place on earth
I believe they've been using AlcaLu and Ericsson small cells. Will check on the DAS side.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
2/19/2014 | 10:39:52 AM
Re: The most connected place on earth
True, Ariella. And attention to detail is so important at Disney, you have to get the full sensory experience -- or enable it as an employee. It's a big win for AT&T, or at least a fun to show off.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2014 | 10:36:32 AM
Re: The most connected place on earth
@Sarah I got the impression that the first motive was keeping their employees connected. The fact that visitors would also be able to use their phone features is an added bonus. For today's generation, it seems that no experience counts unless you share it in real time on Instagram.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
2/19/2014 | 10:33:17 AM
Re: The most connected place on earth
AT&T hasn't said, but we'll look into it...
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
2/19/2014 | 10:30:54 AM
Re: The most connected place on earth
I think that's a great point, kq4ym. Disney is a microcosm for larger cities. The business case may be a bit more straightforward, but I think the same lessons and use cases apply.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
2/19/2014 | 10:29:46 AM
Re: The most connected place on earth
I would argue that if you're at Disney World you should be taking in the sites and rides rather than using your phone, but I know connectivity is important for the employees -- and Princesses -- as well. Plus, Disney has built such an interactive experience around mobile apps that they need to support it.
kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2014 | 7:47:16 AM
Re: The most connected place on earth
The video points out the Disney "guest experience" which probably could be transferred as well to small cell deployment to not only large corporate controlled facilities but to city environments as well. Selling city officials on small cells as part of an "experience" for visitors and citizens might be a tactic AT&T marketing folks could present to officials hoping to gain some votes and improved business climates.
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