Massive events demand massive wireless. Sprawling across the Palm Springs desert in Southern California, the recently completed The Coachella Music and Arts Festival and the StageCoach Festival brought together hundreds of music acts and nearly 900,000 people, who communicated over a massive state-of-the-art DAS.
“This is the most complex design that I have seen in my career because it is a unique venue to begin with. Not to mention that Empire Polo Club is very particular about aesthetics,” said John Shubin, Advanced RF Technologies director of business development. “Because of the flat land underneath the Empire Polo Club, you have to get creative in sectorizing the DAS.
“You also have to take into account that there are multiple stages and some of them move around from one weekend to the next. There are also a lot of temporary structures that you have to account for,” he added.
Just designing Phase Two took six months and required some the best integrators in the business, including Communications Technology Services, Aztecs and Wes-Tec, as well as Pramira and Airtech.
“Something this large, and because of the time crunch, required top integrators working on the install of this project,” Shubin said. “We had the biggest, best and brightest integrators. They were all working together from the installation to optimization and commissioning.”
Coachella took place in April during two three-day weekends and then StageCoach ran the next weekend. The system gets a heavy work out during the festivals, providing service to the 99,000 music lovers per-day per day during the six days of Coachella, according to Goldenvoice, and to StageCoach’s 70,000 festival goers daily over three days.
In the previous years, communications needs were served by cells on wheels (COW). Last year, known as Phase One, marked the first year the festivals brought in Advanced RF Technologies’ DAS, which provided 39 single-in single out (SISO) sectors and was used by Verizon and T-Mobile. This year, the DAS grew to 82 multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) sectors for Verizon and T-Mobile and 39 single-in, single out (SISO) sectors for AT&T.
“We had to get creative about what we put out there. In the past the carriers just brought in COWs, but that was not meeting the communications needs of the festival goers. In stage one, they used some DAS using permanent poles, but it wasn’t enough,” Shubin said.
This year was called Phase Two and it brought in a slew of permanent poles, temporary poles and charging stations. “They really made it robust,” Shubin said. “A robust system is needed for that large of an audience.” In Phase Three, next year, AT&T will expand and maybe Sprint will join, depending on the fate of the T-Mobile merger.
Additional carriers can be added through the modular nature of ADRF Technologies’ ADXV series, which transmits from 600 MHz to 2600 MHz plus VHF and UHF frequencies. ADRF’s Citizen’s Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) module can also be added if needed in the future.
“The modularity of our fiber DAS, being able to add and remove frequency bands at will, was a differentiator for ADRF,” Shubin said.
The coverage demand of nearly 100,000 people is only half the battle. In Indio, California, the network is subjected to severe heat, rain and even sand storms. The equipment’s IP66 rating is a sign that it is built to survive the climate and continue to operate.
“Last summer, in two different instances, the HVAC went out in the headend causing temperatures to soar to 138 degrees, and our equipment was still performing well,” Shubin said.