Holy COW, it's a cell on wheels
is having a COW, man, at Aloha Stadium this weekend.
The COW, or cellular (site) on wheels -- will double the capacity of the company's voice and data network in the area -- as it has the same capacity as a permanent cell site, according to a company news release.
"With more than 50,000 fans converging on such a small area, along with news media and the teams themselves, we anticipate a significant surge in wireless activity," said Mark Yamauchi, director of Hawaii sales.
For younger readers who don't remember the dark ages, there was a time when cellular phones could only be used to make and receive phone calls. They also were as big as bricks and weighed about five pounds, but you could buy a carrying case with a padded shoulder strap. You could get the phone in any color you wanted, as long as it was a shade of greenish-grayish-tanish drab. Carrying cases were also available in a wide range -- of black.
With many enhanced cell-phone functions comes the need for more bandwidth, or greater capacity.
"A lot of visitors from the mainland, excited about being in Hawaii, will be sending photos and text messages and calling friends in freezing weather saying, 'Guess what, I'm at the Pro Bowl,'" Yamauchi said. Customers with the right type of phone also can transmit video clips.
The company has spent $77 million expanding its system in Hawaii over the past four years, spokeswoman Georgia Taylor said.
"As the demand continues to grow, we want to keep up with that and grow with that," she said. One in five people is a Verizon Wireless customer, she said.
The COW's microwave antenna, which links network components, is the calling equivalent of 672 land lines and it can reach 20 miles, depending on surrounding terrain.
The antenna is on a 55-foot retractable mast.
"We use it for emergency purposes, or to support special media events," Yamauchi said.
"As you know, disaster preparedness is so important ... the cell on wheels program is a great response vehicle for us to make sure that the community can have wireless services."
The amusing thing about the Verizon Wireless release, to someone who has no financial stake in any of this, is that the official telecommunications sponsor of the NFL -- is Sprint.
You saw the Rolling Stones' mini-concert for the Super Bowl half-time show? Sprint sponsored that.
Nowhere in the Verizon Wireless release did the words Pro Bowl appear, because in this age of exclusive marketing agreements, paid product placement and trademark infringement lawsuits, it isn't allowed.
The event was referred to as, "this week's professional football game at Aloha Stadium."
Hawaii's Sprint folks have been immersed in official Pro Bowl functions.
Marketing Director David Oyadomari was among staffers shepherding a gaggle of local executives to an audience with former NFL Most Valuable Player quarterback Steve Young on Friday.
"He's a solid guy. He was a really good speaker and really connected with the crowd," Oyadomari said.
"We do things like that, other player appearances -- and we have some VIPs from Hawaii and out of town that will be attending the Pro Bowl. There are a bunch of activities."
Sprint's relationship with the NFL also provides its customers to stream exclusive NFL Network video content over newer, high-speed mobile broadband, or EVDO-enabled phones, he said. Customers also can choose to watch A&E cable channel programming or cartoon shows, for instance.
The all-stars of the NFC and AFC may battle for supremacy -- without risking injury -- on the field at Aloha Stadium today, but wireless phone companies duke it out daily to try and win your business.
There's big money at play here, not to mention dueling public relations machines for highly competitive businesses.
Oyadomari double-checked to see if Sprint was doing anything to boost capacity around the stadium in advance of the game.
"Sprint coverage is excellent in the Aloha Stadium area. It's more than adequate," he said.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org