Wireless Services @ AirVenture 2011 (Not Wi-Fi). Looking for feed-back.
I am looking for some feed-back regarding wireless service coverage, capacity, speeds, etc from AirVenture 2011. Which carrier do you have and what were your principal challenges (if any)?
I do wish to offer a "hat-tip" to John Carrier and his IT team. It is a remarkable task to provide Wi-Fi to attendee's at no cost and provide the coverage demand of same. Sure, there were very busy nodes and access points, yet my tests at random points showed connectivity and access. A much greater improvement over years past for sure.
Disclosure: I am from a major wireless services provider and attending this years' AirVenture with me was the Network Manager Wisconsin and two other states. I prefer to leave the name of my company out of this post for I am seeking unbiased reviews. Thanks for any reply's.
Well I'll be the first to give a thumbs-down to AT&T.
2009 was a catastrophically bad year, AT&T services collapsed completely at times. 2010 was much better with service that was slower than normal, but acceptable considering the environment. Unfortunately 2011 was a big step backwards. Wednesday to Friday the phone service was un-usable. On the rare times I got connected, the call would be dropped within a minute. Text messages and voicemails came through OK. Data very slow.
I'll second what Adam said. I, too, have ATT on an iPhone. In my opinion, the wifi was a big step back. If I arrived onsite and activated wifi, it wouldn't pop up the license agreement until I tried to access an internet site - as in, if I used a non-Safari tool like weather, that would continue to try and access the server thru 3G; only when I'd try to bring up a page would it request that I read and accept the terms. And then the "accept" button was so small I'd have to zoom in on the screen so that I didn't "fat finger" the "reject" button. Not fun when you want to check something one-handed like while trying to control the drips on your ice cream cone.
MANY times during the critical parts of the day, as in trying to set up lunch rendezvous or departure times, complete failure from ATT. I couldn't even get single-letter texts out (like 'K' for OK to ACK a received txt).
ATT (and the others, I'm sure) play games with their prioritization. As in, I could call my buddy on Sprint just about any time, at ANY time of the day and the call would go thru. But, call my wife, also on ATT, and fail, fail, fail, ring - go to VM, fail, fail, etc. I think next year I'll swap phones with my buddy so that I can get through. Also, I could call my wife when she was on another cell site (like at the dorms) and the calls would go through. ATT has the logic set so that "oh, they're calling from the same cell site/COW, so they can't be THAT far; we'll just bounce 'em to VM...)
I agree with Adam, most of the latter half of the week it was about a 1 in 8 chance the phonecalls would go through and there was one entire day near the end of the week where my AT&T blackberry was stuck on GSM and basically useless.
I'm on ATT with Blackberry and from Sun- Sun the service was horrible. Voice mails were not received until hours after they were left, call quality was poor onsite and failed calls were numerous. My wife and I resorted to Blackberry Messenger to keep in touch but that was delayed at times. Once off site the service worked fine.
I used an iphone with ATT. Spotty service and best often no service period. I attended Wednesday through Friday.
AT&T iPhone. No data connection at all when I was there on Friday and very spotty (unusable) voice connections.
Verizon was no great shakes. At times received a message 'service was not available.' At other times the connection would be lost. Very seldom could I complete even a short conversation without problems.
Get a COW or two
At the local racetrack where I volunteer, we bring in COWs -- Cell On Wheels -- to augment the local wireless networks during our major events. This has totally cured our latency issues on cell calls.
I was a volunteer at KidVenture at Pioneer Airport and ATT about drove me to distraction. If I turned off the phone's 3G service, I could get somewhat adequate service, with text working most of the time. Voice was awful, though. I found a sweet spot out by where General Delivery was parked, and even then I had to be oriented just right to hold the signal, basically facing a heading of 220. However, I very rarely got a signal inside the Pioneer Hangar (thank you Kathy Hanson and others for your patience in trading messages!).
Some friends and I rented a house out on Rolling Green Circle, as we have for a couple of years. Interestingly enough, coverage was horrible out there, too. We found that, on the drive to and from the venue, the best service was on South Oakwood between 9th and 20th then down to US41. Also, we got fair service from ATT north of the airport and east of 41.
I was at KOSH until Monday noon, thanks to the line that tried to blow in during the volunteer wind down. I noticed that the signal strength on my phone improved all day Sunday and Monday morning as folks left. I have no idea how cell towers propagate and manage signals (I would think signal strength would be constant, regardless of utilization) but that says something, I think, about network capacity.
As for my iPad? No way was it getting data. Fortunately, one of my fellow renters was able to set up a hot spot at our hosts' home using their digital cable.
As I mentioned to Hal on the old forums, you would think that the ATT network managers would have noticed a gigantic spike in the Oshkosh/Fon du Lac/Appleton area at around this time of year by now. In my company, I work in an area called Network Design and we plan service for our customers around seasonal spikes, as well as spot issues (e.g. Midwest river floods this year). I know that phone/data use a very different infrastructure than providing rail service, but a network is a network. Providing excellent customer service can be done with some forethought.
Last edited by Bob Meder; 08-03-2011 at 05:34 AM.
Reason: I'm my own toughest editor
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