Can you hear me? TPA to install hundreds of cell antennas to enhance coverage
Virtually everyone who uses the airport relies on strong wireless service. A new agreement to install 900 antennas around the TPA campus is a win-win for all.
Spotty service, dropped calls, slow data loading and so-called “dead zones” are getting closer to becoming inconveniences of the past at TPA, thanks to a recently signed agreement that will bring hundreds of strategically placed antennas to the Airport, vastly improving cell phone coverage in and around the entire campus.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board in June approved a contract with Crown Castle to install a cellular distributed antenna system (also known as DAS) that will allow the nation's largest carriers to strengthen and expand their coverage for the 22-million passengers that pass through TPA annually. It’ll also make life easier for airport employees in remote parts of the TPA campus and Lyft and Uber drivers using the airport’s staging lot, as they’ll notice a significant improvement in data connections and coverage once the system is in place by late 2020. The enhanced service will also be a huge plus for the influx of visitors expected when Tampa hosts the Super Bowl in February 2021.
“Our DAS positions TPA to have best-in-class cellular connectivity to complement our fantastic Wi-Fi,” said Brandon Taugner, TPA Director of ITS Enterprise Operations & Client Services. “In addition, better coverage and capacity will improve the guest experience, increase worker productivity and help usher in the next wave of wireless innovations.”
TPA’s DAS will consist of a main operations building located on the northeast corner of the Airport campus at the intersection of Air Cargo Road and West Crest Avenue. Fiber optic cabling will run south down the campus to the Main Terminal, Airsides, parking garages, Rental Car Center and the under-construction SkyCenter One campus. Approximately 220 remote distribution units will connect to these fiber runs and these units will then connect to approximately 900 antennas, many of which will be barely noticeable to customers passing through TPA.
“This project was important for us to continue our commitment to providing the best experience to our guests," said Marcus Session, TPA Vice President of IT. "The travel experience can be stressful, and knowing your device will have a reliable connection helps to reduce some of that.”
Our DAS positions TPA to have best-in-class cellular connectivity to complement our fantastic Wi-Fi. In addition, better coverage and capacity will improve the guest experience, increase worker productivity and help usher in the next wave of wireless innovations.
Such carrier agreements and systems are becoming more commonplace in large, high volume public venues such as stadiums, arenas and large business or college campuses where the carrier companies have an interest in strengthening service.
The system will not only eliminate interruptions in cell service but it also will ensure TPA is equipped to handle 5G technology as soon as it’s available, possibly sometime next year.
“If you think about it, 4G brought us streaming media, location-based services, social media and the likes of Uber and Lyft,” Taugner said. “It’s exciting to think what 5G could bring, but industry experts already predict that autonomous vehicles will be one of the biggest benefactors of the new wireless technology.”
Taugner said bringing DAS to the Airport was a huge team effort consisting of diligent work by TPA’s Procurement, ITS, Legal, Finance, Real Estate, Concessions, Planning and Development and Maintenance departments. The work will continue as the Authority completes the planning and design phases of the project and then begins construction, which will span all major structures and areas of the airfield not covered by the existing tower network.
“We’re excited for this excellent new amenity at TPA, which adds to the list of many reasons to already love our airport,” Taugner said. “This was truly a cross-departmental effort where stakeholders across the Authority came together for a common goal, and that goal will impact millions of wireless customers for years to come.”