Weak cell-phone service in the Verizon Center has long been a sore spot for Wizards, Capitals, and Hoyas fans. So the news today from communications giant AT&T that it had just upgraded its wireless service inside the arena—-first tweeted by @casualhoya and reported by DC Sports Bog—-was surely welcome.
The problem? The AT&T upgrade was also news to Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the company that operates the Verizon Center, even though AT&T claimed in a press release this afternoon that it had already installed a new system.
In an email to City Desk, Monumental spokesman Kurt Kehl writes that the company “is working on a comprehensive plan for all wireless carriers to upgrade the existing networkinto a master Distributed Antenna System, but there currently is no agreement between AT&T and Verizon Center to launch a new DAS specific to AT&T. Sharing more information at this time would be premature, but we would welcome AT&T’s participation in our comprehensive Distributed Antenna System and planning.”
Monumental, it turns out, isn’t the only confused party. Audrey Chang, a spokesperson for AT&T, says that her company has been struggling for much of the day to understand Monumental’s current stance on the installation.
“You don’t just build something and then stop,” says Chang, noting that AT&T has been the Verizon Center’s somewhat ironic wireless provider for years. “It’s been an ongoing process.”
One possible explanation for the competing statements that Chang offered was the difference between a regular distributed antenna system (DAS) and a “comprehensive” DAS, to which Kehl refers in his email.
According to Chang, AT&T last upgraded Verizon Center’s system in 2011, and plans for another DAS upgrade had been in the works ever since. “The work is completed, it’s been tested, and the network has been put through its paces,” she says.
Flickr photo via afagen, Creative Commons license