Five-Beam Multi-Beam Antenna Project Overview

The sharp rise of social media and the ability to share photos, videos and more on-the-go has turned sporting and entertainment venues into tech hotspots. AT&T multi-beam antenna technology provides customers a more reliable and consistent wireless network experience at these venues, helping them share their experiences from events with friends and family.

AT&T Five-beam multi-beam antenna technology is an industry-first network innovation. The wide antenna has one row of five narrow beams, each roughly 20 degrees apart that are used to segment large audiences in order to better provide mobile network coverage — sometimes providing roughly five times the network traffic capacity that was previously available.

The five-beam multi-beam antenna has now been used at a variety of entertainment and sporting venues. At a major international comic convention in San Diego, the antennas helped AT&T set a new data usage record for its network at the event, with more than 4,960 gigabytes, or nearly five terabytes, sent across the network over the course of five days.

The Face of Innovation

AT&T Foundry Lab researcher, Gary ChowFor several years, AT&T’s Gary Chow was having difficulty providing reliable coverage at the bustling music festival near Los Angeles. Each year, the venue drew tens of thousands of people looking to send and receive photos, tweets, texts and calls. Chow was using single-beam antennas that were limited in how many people they could serve at once; and overlapping the antennas wouldn’t help.

Five-beam multi-beam antenna researcher, Bob MathewsAT&T’s Bob Mathews was experiencing with the same issue while on a different team. The duo developed a fresh concept in which many, narrow beams are used to divide an audience into many narrow slices so it can be served more effectively. Mathews brought the idea to Chow and it was a no-brainer — the five-beam multi-beam antenna was born.

Mathews and Chow work on the AT&T Network Special Events Team, which is tasked with the challenge of finding solutions for providing capacity when a large number of customers are using mobile devices in a relatively small area.

Mathews, who has been with AT&T for nearly two decades, has a PhD in physics from the University of California at Berkeley and served aboard an aircraft carrier as part of the U.S. Navy. Chow, who has international experience in network engineering, is interested professionally in network planning and design, spectrum and capacity management and new product development and implementation.

The Future For Five-Beam Multi-Beam Antenna Technology

The five-beam multi-beam antenna greatly increases the amount of data traffic that AT&T is able to handle on its network at large events, and Mathews and Chow are already working on its next evolution:

  • Super multi-beam. Preparations are underway for the world’s first ever super multi-beam antenna. In theory, the super multi-beam will provide more than three times the network traffic capacity of the five-beam multi-beam antenna.
  • Reaching further. Deployments of the five-beam multi-beam antenna continue to grow across AT&T’s markets nationwide at large events, conventions, concerts and sporting venues.
Five-Beam Multi-Beam Antenna from AT&T Innovation