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September 16, 2015

Telecoms pray for connectivity for the masses

Pope's Parkway mass expected to bring more than 1 million

Cell phone
Parkway cell Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Small boxes affixed to poles -- a small cell solutions network -- will boost capacity for mobule device users during Pope Francis' mass on the Parkway.

Crown Castle, a wireless infrastructure company, has installed 37 small antennaes to boost connectivity along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in advance of Pope Francis' visit on Sept. 26-27.

The event is expected to draw more than 1 million people, many with a mobile device.

That demand was expected to exceed existing tower capacity.

Pat Slowey, chief commercial officer and senior vice president of Crown Castle, announced the installation at a Wednesday demonstration at the Franklin Institute.

The installation, known as a small cell solution network, will serve providers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

Crown traditionally does large towers but has recently moved into the small cell business, which is made to cast a signal that goes perhaps 100 to 200 feet.

The small cell boxes, which look like a small utility box, are suspended on poles lining the Parkway. Data is carried by fiber optic lines buried three feet beneath the road.

The boxes are live now and will remain in place permanently.

Representatives from Verizon and AT&T spoke about adding capacity to serve the event. But they could not pinpoint their maximum capacity.