While a Disney (News - Alert) vacation is an unforgettable experience that should be tried by most everyone at some point, getting mobile service within these parks is a wish that even a fairy godmother often can't fill. But AT&T's (News - Alert) got a few tricks up its own sleeve, and is set to bring the magic of small cell technology to help get wireless coverage better into the parks.
Basically, thanks to an agreement between AT&T and Disney Parks, AT&T is now the official wireless provider of both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. As part of the new title, AT&T will be bringing a set of small cells into place that will take the current spectrum AT&T has in the area and break it down into smaller chunks, allowing AT&T to better cover the entire resort area—which can be pretty large in objective terms—and provide more coverage where it's specifically needed, in areas that see higher volume.
AT&T reportedly plans to add fully 25 new antenna systems, backed up by a complement of 350 small cells and fully 10 new cell sites across the resort property, along with nearly 50 repeaters to boost the network's coverage capability. AT&T will even offer up free charging stations for all wireless device users to add a little extra charge during the day.
It's not so much that AT&T didn't already have sound coverage through much of the park, as explained by AT&T's senior vice president for advanced solutions, Chris Hill (News - Alert), but rather that there were some places where customers were having issues, particularly inside buildings. Hill went on to further explain that the use of small cells to augment network coverage is one that's very popular right now with all wireless carriers, and is proving particularly valuable in areas where large amounts of people gather. Hill described small cell deployments as “a big wave,” where “tens of thousands of these access points are being deployed all over the place.”
The new access points are said to be very well disguised—much in keeping with the Disney tradition of keeping the behind-the-scenes stuff located squarely behind the scenes—and as part of the arrangement, AT&T will take over Disney's corporate wireless services, connecting roughly 10,000 Disney employees, and will also be spotted as an official sponsor of many Disney events, like Disney's soccer and runDisney events found at the ESPN (News - Alert) Wide World of Sports Complex.
Perhaps the only downside to this deal is that it essentially only applies to AT&T customers. Those with other service providers won't get in on this newly enhanced network, and AT&T reportedly has no plans to accommodate other providers' use of AT&T's expanded network.
Though some may wonder why anyone would care about mobile service in a place like a Disney park anyway, there are plenty of applications here. Anyone who's stood in a line that runs from 30 minutes to an hour would likely appreciate being able to spend that time, say, watching YouTube (News - Alert) videos or having a conversation with friends who couldn't make it to the park. Being available in emergencies regardless of location is also a significant plus, one that many will likely welcome.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi