South by Southwest was one for the books, and the data traffic we saw was one for the records.

Over the last couple of weeks, the city of Austin transformed for the 2015 SXSW Conferences and Festivals, and with tens of thousands of attendees looking to network and connect, AT&T amped up the experience through COWs (or cells on wheels), rooftop antennas and a giant eyeball antenna.

As a result of the capacity boost and with the help of our latest network technology, the Luneburg Lens Antenna, we saw an all-time high in data traffic at the event with more than 37TB crossing our network. This is equivalent to someone streaming music for more than 147 consecutive years across our mobile network and is a remarkable 95% increase compared to 2014.*

At AT&T we’re always looking for new innovative ways to connect our customers to their favorite big events, and SXSW was no exception. By deploying a 12-beam Luneburg Lens attached to a SuperCOW along with two additional COWs, we were able to double the capacity compared to last year which resulted in nearly double the traffic.

Championed by AT&T network engineers Bob Mathews and Gary Chow, the Luneburg Lens Antenna is a spherical ball that more efficiently uses our allotted network capacity in a given area – a handy feature at jam-packed events like concerts or festivals. While the Luneburg design has been around since the 1940s, the cellular application of the concept is new and it helped provide our customers at SXSW with up to 10x the capacity of a traditional single-beam antenna so they could more easily send texts, tweets, selfies, videos and more.

From DAS and small cells to the new Luneburg Lens antenna, we are constantly seeking out innovative ways to build you a better network. SXSW is only the third deployment of the new Luneburg Lens Antenna nationwide and we plan to use the solution at several other large events and festivals later this year. So find your favorite song and start streaming!

*Data comparisons include only areas and events held in both 2014 and 2015.

Bill Smith
Bill Smith President - AT&T Network Operations, AT&T Services Inc