AT&T plans network boost to handle data demand during SXSW

South by Southwest can be one of the most frustrating times of year for folks dependent on their cellphones.

These days, that’s pretty much all of us, right?

With so many people in such a small area, cellular networks get overwhelmed during SXSW, meaning some calls are dropped or never get through in the first place.

Carriers regularly bring in extra equipment to help out, and this year’s no exception.

Combined ShapeCaption
AT&T is bringing in additional antennas to Austin to handle network traffic during SXSW.

Credit: Gary Dinges

AT&T is bringing in additional antennas to Austin to handle network traffic during SXSW.

Credit: Gary Dinges

Combined ShapeCaption
AT&T is bringing in additional antennas to Austin to handle network traffic during SXSW.

Credit: Gary Dinges

Credit: Gary Dinges

AT&T, for instance, says it’s increasing its downtown-area capacity by 60 percent compared to last year. In 2015, the company says more than 37 TB of data crossed its network during SXSW, a 95 percent increase from 2014.

Four AT&T cell-on-wheels antennas will be brought into the downtown Austin area, including one that will be placed east of Interstate 35.

The company is also bringing a 3-D “giant eyeball” antenna to Auditorium Shores that will let AT&T engineers distribute data based upon the crowd’s consumption.

In addition, AT&T will offer free WiFi in four areas: Auditorium Shores, East Sixth Street, the Warehouse District and at Stubb’s BBQ, 801 Red River St.