Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cell Phone / Wifi Update

The story of cell phones and wifi at A-Basin is long.  I will try and give the Reader's Digest version in a few paragraphs.

Right now there is very limited cell phone coverage at the ski area and our wifi ability is weak.  None of the cell carriers has a tower close by.  The hard communication line buried in the US Highway 6 shoulder is at its capacity.  The installation of a "backyard" cell system is not possible due to the hard line capacity issue.  Our wifi system is limited by the hard  line capacity.  That is why the wifi sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.  Any cell phone implementation requires a million or multi-million dollar investment. For years the cell carriers have looked at the area for increased coverage.  The question of having cell coverage here has never been "if", it has been "when."

So, ATT finally made the plunge and is installing cell phone repeaters at both the A-Frame and Black Mountain Lodge.  Additionally, they are installing a substantial repeater that connects to the communication infrastructure downvalley, overcoming the hard line capacity issues.  While I don't know exactly when, we should have ATT cell coverage at A-Basin sometime this season.  A major benefit to this program is that with the new repeater connecting downvalley, our overall capacity to communicate will grow VERY DRAMATICALLY.  Once the new cell phone system is online, we should have the ability to dramatically expand our wifi system.

The Hughes dishes you may have noticed have been around for about 3 years and they are part of the current wifi system.  I hope when the whole new system is working that they can go away.

Lastly, regarding RFID.  We would like to install RFID, but have a couple of very large challenges.  One, it is very expensive and two, there are significant technical challenges integrating our proposed RFID with Vail's RFID system.  While we are working on RFID and want to install it, I am not optimistic about a quick resolution.  Keep that pass available, sorry.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was able to send emails and texts for work from my blackberry today! Thank you!

JG said...

Alan, first off thanks for the info here....this is incredibly helpful. I have to be honest that I've skied more at keystone than the basin because of these issues..I can get away for a lunchtime ride, but not if I' m totally out of contact....just impossible. But an hour or two many times is just what dr. Ordered....I can promise u I spend money at the basin too....I'm not just using the epic pass and blasting....if I could show my bar bill, gift shop tally and what my kids talk me into....anyhow, I'm sure I' m not an anomaly....my two cents...thx again for open book response on this....been up three times already this yr and lovin it.

Anonymous said...

To me it doesn't matter. I actually like having the excuse that I am unreachable so I can concentrate on my skiing and leave all my outside worries away from A Basin.

Thanks Al!!!

Anonymous said...

Big Al, thanks for the info, big THANKS for the Flight for Life photos, Pali looks even better from up there

Anonymous said...

Is this ATT tower only going to work for ATT customers?

Doesnt most of CO have Sprint?

Anyway if this works, I will be at the mountain more during the week. I have the capacity, like above poster, to "get away" for a while. However, I cant just "disappear" into no mans land.

Keystone as become the "getaway" spot as its easily accessible from car to mountain and has good coverage on the mountain. A Basin gets that and I am sure more of the 'work day crowd" will show up

Anonymous said...

how is Ramrod coming please??

BobT said...

Al: the AT&T improvements are terrific news for me. Thanks for sharing the news about impending improvements. For weekday skiing I am often obligated to be reachable by text messaging by my managers back on campus, in case an IT problem comes up that requires a group decision. Doesn't happen most days---but having decent cellular at ABasin means I don't have to prioritize skiing at Breck or Keystone those days when I know I might need to be reached by the crew back at the office.

Anonymous said...

Al, just to add to the above comments...

I was unable to use my phone yesterday for calling functions but WAS able to use your wireless and therefore was able to send emails and work, as some of your bartenders might have noticed :) I went up with some folks so I could get a fresh bacon bloody mary and watch them ride down the slope (feeling jealous but glad I was there) I was answering emails every hour or so due to the nature of my job. However, it was very relaxing and it was nice to be able to get work done at a "mountain office" surrounded by friendly folks, rather than at a dinner table alone at my apartment building.

I think that is the main point. I will be able to be on a lift or just enjoy it up there without having to worry if I will miss something important and jeopardize my job. It is good for the soul to be there, especially for someone who is on call with limited time off.

Like most airports (not DIA), you have to pay for wireless capabilities. That could be an option in order to keep those happy who are annoyed by all the smartphone users, but on the other hand, people are going to use their electronic wireless devices no matter what you do. Personally, I never saw the reason to use a smartphone when you are surrounded by natural beauty and happiness and my friends always leave their phones in the car.

Anyway, thanks Al! Keep up the great work!!! Thanks for the updates, they are appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree w the bacon bloody dude. Matt does em right.

Anonymous said...

Agree that a pay plan wouldn't be out of line. Would help to control bandwidth plus shut out the freeloaders. Oh and help mitigate costs to the basin. I don' think the reasonable among us want free, we just need the option. Price it daily, monthly, seasonally.

Anonymous said...

I had no luck texting at the base yesterday but was able to send a text with a picture from Black Mountain Lodge. Good new about ATT though!

Anonymous said...

Good news!
Any plans for Verizon to do the same?

Anonymous said...

I was there on Monday and at times the line went slow with skiers pulling out their passes to be scanned. I would recommend that the scanner people have and offer plastic ties to the skiers to attach their passes to their coats. I would also recommend having the plastic ties out and easily available at the cafieriera, gift shop, bar, rental shop, and outside the ticket window. At the ticket window, the guy I asked was rude (redish beard). Ties are a small cost to pay to have the lines go faster and to have happier skiers.

James Norris said...

I have been discovering that the more I learn about technology, the more impressed I become. A cell phone store really has to stay up to date, which could be difficult in places like Toronto but very possible.