Which Summerfest shows demanded the largest data use?

As more than 804,000 people gathered in Milwaukee for the world’s largest music festival this year, the demand for cell phone data increased substantially, wireless industry experts tell TODAY'S TMJ4.

Those texts, Tweets, Facebook posts, and Snapchats really added up last week at Summerfest, according to Steve Van Dinter, a Verizon spokesperson.

Newly released data obtained by TODAY’S TMJ4 revealed that July 2nd, 8th, and 9th, were the dates when the most amount of data was used by Verizon Wireless customers.

Artists playing at the Marcus Amphitheater those nights were Weezer, Panic at the Disco, Chris Stapleton, Alabama Shakes, and Paul McCartney, Van Dinter said.

Here’s the breakdown by the numbers –

July 2 at 706 GB
July 8 at 595 GB 
July 9 at 721 GB

Verizon customers consumed 5.6 terabytes of data during Summerfest this year, officials said.

On July 19, AT&T officials tell TODAY'S TMJ4 that traffic was up 36 percent on AT&T's network compared to Summerfest in 2015.

As previously reported by TODAY’S TMJ4, back in 2013, Summerfest officials decided to invest in technology that would improve cell phone data service, by installing what's called a cellular distributed antenna system (DAS).

Throughout the 11-day 2016 festival, AT&T users consumed more than 11.3 terabytes (TB) of traffic across AT&T's mobile network on the DAS. That comes out to about 32.5 million "selfies," officials said.

AT&T's peak usage at the festival were the same as Verizon, but the volume was much greater than Verizon's usage.

Here's a break down of AT&T's numbers ---

July 2 – 1,303 GB 

July 8 – 1,206 GB 

July 9 – 1,346 GB 

AT&T officials said those numbers represent usage from AT&T customers on their mobile network using the DAS.

In order to put things into perspective --- “On a medium Verizon plan, giving customers 4 GB a month (or 48 GB a year), that equates to roughly 117 years of data consumption in just 10 days,” Van Dinter said.  

U.S. Cellular customers used the most data during opening night when Selena Gomez was performing, according to James Walker-Pontius, Director of Regional Engineering with U.S. Cellular.

Overall, during the entire festival, peak data usage on U.S. Cellular’s network occurred between 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Walker-Pontius said.

To date, the 2013 Summerfest upgrade benefits those who have Verizon, AT&T, and U.S. Cellular, according to Summerfest officials in Milwaukee who said “Sprint and T-Mobile have not elected to join our DAS system, therefore we have no infrastructure on our grounds to accommodate their customers.” T-Mobile and Sprint customers will be relying solely on the respective provider's towers.

“This year, we added more LTE capacity to the festival grounds, in addition to other improvements made last year. AT&T customers enjoyed stronger, clearer more reliable coverage available at the venue," says Samara Sodos a spokesperson with AT&T.

Van Dinter says the additional Verizon spectrum, “increased capacity for additional users to count on 4G LTE speeds, like adding lanes to a highway.”

“Our customers are using, on average, double the data at events like Summerfest than the year before. Keeping ahead of this growing demand requires significant investments in our network,” Van Dinter added.

Walker-Pontius says U.S. Cellular’s upgrades provided both customers with 4G LTE Service and a 3G enhanced experience, after installing the antenna technology on a rooftop outside of the Summerfest grounds.

AT&T officials tell TODAY'S TMJ4 that the company has already invested more than $825 million in its Wisconsin wireless and wired networks from 2013-2015.

"Driving a wide range of upgrades to reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for residents and businesses," AT&T officials said.


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