Cleveland Convention Center using RNC to coax carriers into network upgrades

The Cleveland Convention Center will play host to the 2016 Republican National Convention in July and it's using the occasion to help convince carriers to install network equipment that will improve indoor coverage.

The center, which houses a good portion of its 775,000 square feet underground, has struggled with cellular reception since opening in 2013.

Dave Johnson, public relations director for the Cleveland Convention Center, said Verizon (NYSE: VZ) was the first to jump in with help, first installing a Cell on Wheels (COW) on a loading dock and finally completing a permanent DAS in 2014. AT&T (NYSE: T) followed suit with a temporary DAS on the site and both Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) are working on DAS installations at the center as the RNC looms.

Now AT&T, which has been named the official communications, video and technology provider for the RNC, is working to boost coverage and capacity even further in the center, the Quicken Loans Arena, and throughout downtown Cleveland.

Leading up to the RNC, AT&T plans to triple 4G capacity in downtown Cleveland, extend LTE upgrades to 165 sites, add 50,000 feet of new fiber for backhaul, deploy eight outdoor DAS, and begin offering VoLTE in Cleveland. Once the RNC gets going, AT&T will deploy another eight indoor DAS, four COWs and a number of new small cells.

"This is a great example of the long term infrastructure that is being put in place as Cleveland prepares to host the 2016 Republican National Convention," Cuyahogo County Executive Armond Budish said in a statement. "While it will enhance the experience of our visiting delegates and media during the week of the convention, it also ensures that Clevelanders have access to great wireless coverage and the fastest available mobile technology long after the last balloon drops."

AT&T didn't specify how much the new installations and upgrades would cost but did say that since 2012 it has spent $1.6 billion on upgrades for Ohio's wireless and wireline networks.

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