Technology Blog

 The first Pope trip to the U.S. during the smartphone era proved to be a celebration of selfies.

The Pope’s stops in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia offered an once-in-a-lifetime experience for those in attendance. And the crowd in Philadelphia was estimated to be about 15x the size of pro football’s “Big Game.” Accordingly, our data usage in Philadelphia was approximately 7.5x greater than what we experienced at the stadium in Phoenix for this year’s “Big Game,” and higher than any two-day event ever on our mobile network.

Here’s what else we saw in Philly on our network:

  • Total data usage was 12.6TB
     -12.6TB is the equal to 36M social media posts with photos.
  • On our outdoor Distributed Antenna System (oDAS) covering the Benjamin Franklin Parkway – mobile data traffic was approximately 12x greater than the average weekend.
  • Usage also spiked around the Pope’s stops in Washington D.C. and New York City before Philly.
     -In D.C., we saw 1.65TB of data.
     -In NYC, we saw 1.52TB of data.
     -Total data across all three cities was a whopping 15.7TB, which is equal to 45M social media posts with photos.

In Philly alone, we invested $23 million and quadrupled our capacity by using a variety of temporary and permanent solutions. These included:

  • Joining a new, permanent oDAS boosting coverage on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
  • Deploying two temporary Cell on Wheels (COWs), boosting capacity near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
  • Deploying two rooftop antennas, which feature network capacity equal to our two COWs.
  • Upgrading nearly 200 permanent cell sites throughout the greater Philadelphia area in places where Pope-related events took place

We also deployed COWs in Washington, D.C. and New York City to help boost coverage in areas the Pope visited.

I’m proud of the hundreds of employees who dedicated thousands of hours to ensure our network was ready for the Pope’s visit. We do everything we can to make sure you’re able to share your experiences from your phone with others. Whether that’s from your couch or when you’re part of history with the Pope and more than a million other people.

John Donovan
John Donovan CEO – AT&T Communications