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Can You Hear Me Now? Maybe Not At Coachella

Can You Hear Me Now? Maybe Not At Coachella
Bill Jensen

Coachella has its own iPhone app this year, and at least one artist, Plastikman, planned to integrate an audience-interaction app for his performance at the three-day festival. But for all the iPhone-waving hipsters who have trekked to the California desert for the party, AT&T coverage has been spotty and sometimes frustrating.

Text a friend, and sometimes the messages don't arrive for 30 minutes. Of course, relatively speaking, it's the middle of freakin' nowhere. And the grandpas and grandmas who normally populate the warm Coachella Valley aren't exactly text happy. AT&T actually beefed up its coverage especially for Coachella. A spokesman explained the company's special arrangements for the concert to the Weekly over the weeked:

"With huge crowds and Coachella's remote location, AT&T has added wireless and wi-fi network capacity at the event to provide the best possible coverage," said company spokesman Jason Hillery. "We deployed two COWs, or Cell on Wheels mobile cell sites, additional backhaul capacity, as well as AT&T wi-fi coverage throughout the festival grounds. However, in any situation where a large number of people in a dense area are using smartphones -- particularly in a remote area where network resources are limited -- periods of network congestion can occur. Our network engineers are monitoring network performance 24/7, and will continue to work to optimize network performance for the large number of mobile broadband customers at Coachella. We suggest that customers with wi-fi capable devices take advantage of the wi-fi service that AT&T offers throughout the festival grounds."

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