When the Schaumburg Convention Center opened in 2006, a major problem that popped up almost immediately was wireless connectivity. There wasn't any.
Participants at meetings held inside the center just couldn't get any reception on their mobile devices. Many had to find a window or doorway just to get a signal and make a call. That was frustrating for meeting attendees, especially when they needed to return calls that could affect their businesses or tried to reach family or handle other matters.
Since then, technology has continued to advance and the center installed a Distributed Antenna System, known as DAS. AT&T is currently updating it with its own 4G LTE technology, said AT&T spokeswoman Erin McGrath.
AT&T owns and operates a DAS system that was just installed at Navy Pier, but the DAS system in Schaumburg is considered "neutral," meaning multiple carriers, including Verizon Wireless and T-Mobil can use it.
Other venues that now use DAS include O'Hare International Airport, the United Center and the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.
DAS consists of hundreds of strategically placed antennas that distribute wireless network coverage throughout the facility. The system provides more efficient management of the wireless capacity, especially when the facility gets crowded during special events and thousands of people are tweeting, calling or texting at the same time. DAS has the ability to provide enhanced and consistent wireless voice and data transmission, she said.
"It's compared to a cake, where the antennas are layered," she said. "Instead of having just one antenna, there are several around the facility."
Investing in such service technology is vital for places such as the convention center, to help guests and meeting attendees, said David Parulo, president of the Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau.
"Connectivity is very important to these folks," he said.
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