Ski Slope Connectivity
Not many people get to take a ski lift to work. Nor do they have to snowmobile, ski, wear snowshoes or hike while carrying backpacks full of equipment, then digging out 3 feet of snow to get into their office.
But that’s just another day at the office for J.J. Henrikson, who works on installing Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) on mountains, in stadiums and at airports throughout Colorado.
At Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado, there are more than 10 miles of fiber optic cable running up ski lifts and buried under the snow. These cables all lead to remote antennas hidden throughout the mountain’s lodges to help keep skiers connected on the trails and lifts.
There is even a cell site near the top of the mountain at an altitude of 8,000 feet. You can’t reach it by road, so the crews had to use a helicopter to drop in the equipment to build the cell site.
Steamboat Ski Resort receives so much snow, it’s home to the highest weather station in North America. AT&T has advanced technology on the mountain, but if crews need to perform maintenance, they must ski to the cell site. Sometimes they have to dig out more than six feet of snow to get to key areas. All the while, they must be on the lookout for nature’s living distractions such as bears, moose, deer and foxes.
Every year, demand on the network increases and AT&T takes steps to meet the mobile needs of skiers. On a busy weekend like Christmas or Presidents Day, they’ll have tens of thousands people on the mountain. That equates to a lot of selfies sent and pictures and videos posted to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites.
Keeping people connected on the mountain is also a safety benefit. If someone is lost or hurt, they can use their cell phone to get in touch with ski patrol.
J.J. and his team say they’re very proud to work on these remote locations and as long as they’re prepared, it’s an exciting and fun job where they learn something new every day.
For more on Bill Smith’s thoughts– click here for his Innovation Space blog about connecting ski resorts.