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2012 Political Conventions Turned to Cable for Telecom Services

October 5, 2012

For the national political conventions this year, cable was heavily involved with the telecommunications systems. Cable operators provided critical infrastructure for convention-goers to communicate with each other, and for political parties to communicate with the world.

In Tampa, Bright House Networks – the nation’s tenth largest multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) – was the official telecommunications provider of video, high-speed data, and voice services for the Republican National Convention (RNC). And in Charlotte, Time Warner Cable – the fourth largest MVPD in the nation – was the video service provider for the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

At both national political conventions, cable demonstrated expertise in building, providing, and leveraging sophisticated broadband networks – an attribute that continues to serve the nation well.

RNC Tampa

Providing voice, video and high-speed data communications service for any large venue is challenging. But when you add the complexity of a possible hurricane and a nationwide television viewing audience – what Bright House faced at the 20,000 seat Tampa Bay Times Forum – excellence in service delivery becomes paramount. You can watch a video summary of how Bright House tackled those challenges below:

Bright House installed, operated and maintained all communications services to support 15,000 credentialed reporters and more than 4,400 convention delegates at the RNC. The potential of Hurricane Isaac hitting the Tampa area also required that Bright House put into place its disaster preparedness plan to ensure adequate backup service was available in the event of a power outage.

Due to anticipated demand on the system, Bright House added more than 190 miles of fiber to its downtown Tampa network footprint and installed an additional 48 miles of indoor data cabling at the Forum and Convention Center. After the wired network was upgraded, Bright House worked with Cisco Systems to install 184 access points to support free wireless access for convention-goers.

According to Bright House engineers, the system worked like a charm. More than 18,000 unique Wi-Fi devices registered on the Bright House system, with more than 82,000 total authenticated sessions, an average of more than 20,000 sessions per day.

For news organizations needing to upload video footage and other content, Bright House upgraded the system in the RNC Media Center — the primary place for content distribution — to make it capable of super-fast speeds of over 100Mbps.

DNC Charlotte

A week later in Charlotte, Time Warner Cable was the official video provider for the DNC held in the building bearing the company’s name, the 19,000-seat Time Warner Cable Arena.

Time Warner Cable’s convention-focused provision of services started well in advance of the event, as the company delivered video services to DNC offices, the convention center, the transportation center for the complex, and the arena itself. During the course of the convention, Time Warner Cable provided real-time Spanish translation voice-overs for a video feed offering gavel-to-gavel coverage to cable programmers and broadcast television stations. The company also provided the main video feed to news outlets and streamed it on the DNC website.

In addition, Time Warner Cable provided a cable TV feed throughout the arena – including to the suites of news organizations and on to the floor of the convention itself – so that delegates and others could view cable channels.

As reported in CableFAX, Time Warner Cable also worked with Ruckus Wireless in advance of the convention to accelerate deployment of Wi-Fi services in Charlotte. During the two-week period around the convention, the Wi-Fi network was opened to all users. Wi-Fi service, featuring more than 90 hotspots, also blanketed the arena and its many venues. The Wi-Fi investment lives on today, said a Time Warner Cable executive, as “a lasting legacy to our broadband customers.”