RNC communications upgrades power up Cleveland permanently

The 2016 Republican National Convention was a massive event for Cleveland from both a national attention and media relations standpoint. RNC excitement also resulted in huge output for mobile device use, a test that provider AT&T met through a series of system upgrades made prior to convention week.
 
Work began in 2015, with AT&T circling Cleveland in 70,000 feet of new fiber cable to strengthen the city's data network. These improvements coincided with 165 cell site upgrades providing faster download and upload speeds.
 
Convention hub Quicken Loans Arena saw installation of an antenna system allowing for better call coverage and capacity along with improved texting and video streaming, a necessity considering the 2.8 terabytes of traffic  - equal to about 8 million selfies - that flowed through The Q over four busy days.
 
Additional antenna nodes were placed between the arena and Progressive Field, as well as outdoors on Public Square and East Fourth Street and inside JACK Cleveland Casino and the Cleveland Convention Center. Hotels including Marriot at Key Center and The Ritz-Carlton underwent their own antenna enhancements. AT&T Ohio president Adam Grzybicki says these installations will permanently boost city-wide broadband activity and download speeds.
 
"Streaming from fans even at a game is exponential," says Grzybicki. "So we needed to do something permanent for the RNC."
 
During the convention, AT&T deployed temporary Cell on Wheels cell tower trucks to upgrade coverage and capacity at key downtown locations. Teams of engineers tracked data usage in real-time, coordinating with the company's New Jersey-based global communications center. Across all major venues supporting the RNC - from The Q to nearby hotels - visitors and delegates gobbled up 9.4 terabytes of data, or 26.8 million selfies.
 
"It was an exhausting undertaking, but also a great challenge," says Grzybicki. "You don't get an experience like this in your home state very often."
 
A major political convention stretches a city's telecommunications capabilities unlike any event, adds the AT&T official. While the Super Bowl is an enormous one-time affair, Cleveland's RNC outstripped the average NFL title game data usage tenfold.
 
The convention may be long over, but Grzybicki says Cleveland will benefit from AT&T's infrastructure build-outs for years to come.
 
"Economically, it's an opportunity for the city to pull people back into the downtown core," he says. "You need a technological core to create an atmosphere where you're attracting and retaining businesses." 

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.