SBJ/July 30-August 5, 2012/Facilities

ISC upgrades in wireless coverage at its tracks will benefit more than Sprint customers

All 12 of the International Speedway Corp. tracks that host NASCAR events are being upgraded with enhanced wireless capability.

After years of relying primarily on series sponsor Sprint to provide additional towers for cellphone users on race day, ISC has hired American Tower Corp. to design and install a permanent antenna system specially designed to improve the performance of smartphones and other wireless devices at the track for race days and nonracing events.

Providing better cell signals previously was Sprint’s exclusive responsibility at NASCAR events. Sprint typically brings 12 to 15 cellphone towers to the track so that Sprint customers have no trouble accessing a cell signal. But when Sprint’s title sponsorship was recently extended, NASCAR and Sprint agreed that tracks could increase their cell coverage without worrying about which carrier benefited.

ISC’s new antenna system — called DAS, for distributed antenna system — will provide customers of AT&T, Verizon and any other carrier better coverage.

ISC’s improved coverage will be a “vendor agnostic improvement,” said ISC’s Craig Neeb, chief information officer and vice president for multichannel marketing. “This will give all of our fans a better experience on their mobile devices.”

American Tower will begin installing its DAS infrastructure later this year. ISC hopes that all 12 tracks will have full connectivity via wireless signals in 18 months.

The new antenna systems will allow smartphones to perform faster on tasks such as downloading photos, posting to social media sites, and staying in touch with the tracks for news and updates.

Neeb pointed out that most ISC tracks offer mobile applications that provide fans essential information about traffic, weather, race stats and updates. The improved connectivity will enhance the tracks’ ability to stay in touch with its customers throughout an event. So, if Dale Earnhardt Jr. is making an appearance at a merchandise hauler, or if Carl Edwards is going to be at a concert stage, the track can inform the fans with real-time updates “to improve their at-track experience,” Neeb said.

“We can be more up-to-date and relevant with our content and have the confidence that fans are staying connected,” he said.

In addition to American Tower, ISC has hired Corning Cable Systems to install the fiber optic cable network throughout the tracks to support the improved signal strength.

ISC’s cost for the installation is minimal, Neeb said. American Tower will cover nearly all of the cost to install the equipment and then will make its money back by leasing the equipment to carriers.

“This is something we have to have to build for the future,” Neeb said.

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