Churchill Downs shows off network upgrades for Derby weekend - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Churchill Downs shows off network upgrades for Derby weekend

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some upgrades at Churchill Downs will make it easier for thousands of horse racing fans to phone a friend about their Kentucky Derby winnings.

The track has been working with its two main cellphone and data usage providers to prepare for Derby weekend.

Churchill expects about 300,000 people to come to the track next month for the Oaks and Derby. The upgrades are expected to make it easier for all of those people to use smartphones and tablets.

So, whether it is a picture or a text message, data usage and sharing on social media should not be a problem at Churchill Downs afterward.

"That has become a very important part of the Derby experience and a very important part of people sharing that experience," said John Asher, Vice President of Communications at Churchill Downs.

Asher said the cellphone companies have been working on the plan and upgrades for several months.

"They have been a critical partner for us ... AT&T and Mobilitie and other companies that also have users here in that day."

Monday afternoon, representatives from AT&T and Mobilitie showed off the upgrades that include more than 200 strategically-placed antennas in places like the infield.

"This is where you put 100 and 70,000 people in a small space, and they're all in the same cycle, glad to be where they are, and we are trying to serve that need," said Dana Tardelli, Executive Vice President for Mobilitie.

The need will be served in a room that you could call the epicenter or grounds zero when it comes to managing data usage for tens of thousands of cellphones.

"It is a shard room," said David Wigington, an area manager for AT&T. "There is a system in here that we call a DAZ, which basically takes cellular signal and converts it into fiber and disperses it to hundreds of antennas outside of this room."

It is the fourth year of the partnership, and Asher says the track also has free year round Wi-Fi.

"We build up that capacity on Derby day, that's part of the reason these guys are here."

The expanded system is already live.

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