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Virginia Tech Improves Cellular Service at Lane Stadium and Across Campus with DAS

A World-Class University and a Legendary Football Program

With its main campus located in Blacksburg, Virginia, and six additional campuses spread out across the state, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – more commonly known as Virginia Tech – offers 280 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to nearly 35,000 students. 

Virginia Tech is also home to the formidable Hokies football team. The team plays at Lane Stadium, billed as one of the toughest stadiums for visiting teams, in front of 65,000 fans throughout the season.

The Challenge | Increasing Reliable Cellular Service At Lane Stadium

Hosting well over 60,000 attendees during the football season, the stadium is also the home of various events throughout the year – including the annual commencement ceremony. While attending events at the stadium is a wonderful and often exhilarating experience, visitors have, in the past, been frustrated with the lack of cell service while on site. 

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The massive structure is comprised mainly of concrete and steel, which impedes the ability of cellular signals to travel throughout the stadium and makes it challenging to mount antennas upon the building. Additionally, the sporadic influx of visitors with mobile devices creates competition for signal resources. 

Not only is this an inconvenience to guests of the stadium, but it also presents operational challenges to the facility staff. And more importantly, it presents safety challenges. With limited cellular service, individuals can’t always get a signal to call for help or reconnect with their friends and family if they are separated in the (very large!) crowd. First responders may also need help coordinating their efforts due to lack of reception.

The Solution | MatSing Lens Spherical Antennas Boost Cellular Signal

In recent years, the Virginia Tech Foundation coordinated with wireless carriers and the University to expand the capabilities of the cellular network. Specialists from Mobile Communications America (MCA), AT&T, and Verizon installed a new lens antenna on the stadium’s west side while also improving the main distributed antenna system (DAS) that was already in place behind the stadium.

With a new spherical MatSing Lens antenna mounted on the stadium’s west side, signals are directed across the field to the east stands. This not only improves signal quality and capacity within the stadium but has also led to enhanced service at other locations on campus. 

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MatSing Lens antennas typically installed at elevated locations use a “proprietary dielectric polymer that mirrors the human eye’s capacity to refract light and apply it to radio frequency transmissions.” By positioning the antennas on an elevated location, the signal can be targeted to serve specific areas and needs within the venue. The antennas also allow individual cellular carriers to customize their needs and provide optimized performance to their customers.

Some features of MatSing Lense antennas include:

  • Most advanced antenna, optimal for dense urban (capacity), rural (coverage), and indoor (capacity)
  • Multi-band antennas, with support for all sub-6GHz spectrum, including C-Band
  • High scalability, with antennas accommodating up to 48 radios and sectors
  • Supercell capability, with a single MatSing antenna site able to replace 14 conventional cell sites
  • Superior performance, as proven in the marquis venues and events with mobility, bandwidth, and capacity

The Results

In addition to providing enhanced cellular signals and increased capacity within the stadium and its immediate surroundings, the system also provides expanded coverage for the three major wireless carriers – AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon – at six residence halls on campus. It has also created an infrastructure that is ready for 5G when it comes time to upgrade the system in the future.

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About MCA

MCA  is one of the US’s largest and most trusted Motorola Solutions partners, offering world-class voice, data, and video solutions that enhance the quality, safety, and productivity of customers’ operations and lives. As solution providers of wireless communication technologies, MCA leverages a portfolio of products and experienced engineers, analyzes customer needs, designs and optimizes the best solution, and deploys it on time and on budget while ensuring it performs as specified. MCA provides an unmatched footprint of trusted technical staff that will be there from installation through the solution’s life cycle.

Image Disclaimer: Featured Image was obtained from WikiCommons User B. All other images within this case study were obtained directly from Virginia Tech.

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