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DAS Adapts to Changing Venue, Massive Crowds at Churchill Downs

California Chrome was not the only one hitting his stride at this years Kentucky Derby. A DAS designed and deployed by Mobilitie had gone through its paces and was ready to go last week for the 165,000 people who attended the spectacle.

Mobilitie originally deployed the DAS in advance of last years run for the roses in a short time window.

Churchill Downs

In advance of this years event, Mobilitie boosted the network to 50 sectors, 253 antennas and more than one million feet of fiber-optic cable. The resulting DAS provides 5 million square feet of coverage area from the parking lot to the paddock.

“This was not a capacity upgrade because the system was designed very robustly, but we added coverage,” Karmis said. “Churchill Downs is an interesting network to look at because it is one of the largest venue DASs in the country.”

The total data volume was more than 2 Terabytes at the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby races on AT&T’s in-venue wireless network, more than three times the data that passed over the AT&T’s network at this year’s Super Bowl. Data usage peaked from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. in the hour leading up to the post time of the Kentucky Derby, when more than 180 Gigabytes crossed AT&T’s network, the most data ever used on an AT&T in-venue mobile network during a given event.

The upgraded DAS covers all six levels and the basement in the main building, as well as all of the grandstands, parking areas and the newly installed Grandstand Terrace. In addition, the DAS covers all of the temporary hospitality suites, as well as the entire infield area.

Owning and operating the DAS at Churchill Downs is different from most venues because seating areas continue to morph throughout the year. For example, a multiple-story seating with covered suites is deployed every year just for the Derby.

“A lot of infrastructure is put in for the event that is then taken down afterward,” Karmis said. “From an operations standpoint, that adds complications during system design as you try not to install, take down and reinstall any more equipment than necessary.”

As sections for seating are added and the overall venue configuration changes, Mobilitie works closely with Churchill Downs to learn the new overall configuration in advance of the event so coverage can be altered if necessary.

“It is not a set it and forget it venue,” Karmis said. “We have done some modifications for our other venues, such as on-field coverage of Arrowhead Stadium for concerts, but Churchill Downs is the biggest example of having to adjust coverage on an ongoing basis to adapt to the pattern of people.”

Mobilitie will visit Churchill Downs periodically throughout the year for other horseracing events, and new events such as concerts.

“It is safe to say that the system is robust enough to handle any event, but we will work with them to better understand what events they are planning and how they want to anticipate configuring the venue so that the network can be adapted to provide the right kind of service,” Karmis said.