Case Study: The Midwest's 2ND Largest Telecommunications System At tHE minnesota State Fair
The Minnesota State Fair is the 2nd largest state fair in the United States, attracting nearly 1.8 million visitors each year. The 12-day festival is an annual highlight on a typical Minnesotan’s social calendar. The grounds of the Minnesota State Fair span 320 acres and feature many historically significant buildings. Each year, food, animals, artists, and top musical acts from around the world attract people to “The Great Minnesota Get Together”.
With an average annual attendance of nearly 2 million people, the Minnesota State Fair produces an extremely large mobile data challenge. Fairgoers routinely share their fair experience via social media and text messages.
The State Fair Grandstand, built in 1909, hosts many of the fair’s marquee events and musical acts. The Grandstand is made of iron, concrete, thousands of seats, and has a capacity for up to 17,000 people. Such a structure is not an ideal environment for cellular data service.
While the grounds were equipped with existing data coverage from macro antennas, the existing system was not designed not support the cellular data demands of hundreds of thousands of people that flock to the Minnesota State Fair Midway each August.
It was data capacity, not data coverage, which was the main issue for State Fair organizers. During non-peak times in early summer, data coverage and data service are excellent. However, when 200,000 devices attempt to access the same signal during peak times during the 12-day fair, user frustration builds due to weak data signals. Local carriers are unable to support these demands through their macro network.
In addition to consumer data access, all public safety radio systems used at the fair rely on the State Fair’s data infrastructure. Minnesota State Fair fire, EMT, and police departments all rely on the system if an emergency arises.
With the quantity of devices growing exponentially, coupled with the continuous usage of data on those devices, Minnesota State Fair leadership identified they needed a solution to their data problem.
"The greatest measure of success for us on a project like this is that we remain entirely behind the scenes and State Fair goers can happily go about their business, get their food on a stick and enjoy this unbelievable annual event worry free.”