COWs, COLTs, and TOWs…Whoa!

Communication: the number one ingredient in every relationship.

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Miltank (COW) and Rapidash (COLT) help ensure a successful Pokémon Go Fest 2018.

There are many festivals that occur in Chicago every year: Riot Fest, Lollapalooza, Rib Fest, Taste of Chicago, Air and Water Show,... the list goes on. There’s usually a large turn-out and the festival themes range from food, music, cultural diversity, and even Pokémon!

A map of the festival area with COLT locations.

A map of the festival area with COLT locations.

This year, Chicago hosted the 2nd annual Pokémon Go Fest in Lincoln Park. If you’re a fan, you’ll remember that last year in Grant Park Niantic had an overflow of attendees when they didn’t expect Pokemon fans to come out in droves! Over 20,000 people either attended or participated in the event and, being a mobile game, it relies heavily on cellular data. In the end, participants of the game could not even log on, and at times the mobile game would freeze and crash due to the overloaded networks.

With cellular networks there are two main essentials: coverage and capacity. Coverage is the “blanket” that envelops you and lets you talk and browse the internet so long as you’re within that blanket’s range. Capacity is the volume of traffic, the number of people with you in that blanket. The tower closest to you can only send and receive so much information at any given time. Of course there’s the speed of the network too, but let’s save that for another time.

This is where COLTs (Cell on Light Truck), COWs (Cell of Wheels), and TOWs (Tower on Wheels) come into play. All these acronyms fall under the umbrella of what the cellular companies call “temporary towers.” These temporary towers help alleviate the capacity of the cellular network so that everyone using a cell phone in a condensed location is able to use their cell phones (and in this case, play Pokémon Go).

An actual COLT at the event.

An actual COLT at the event.

Last year at the 2017 Pokémon Go Fest, Niantic failed to realize the need for temporary towers at their venue. This year (2018) Niantic deployed multiple COLTs at various locations throughout the park. Lincoln Park was covered north to south with temporary towers to help alleviate network congestion so that Pokémon gamers could play without interruption.

Terra Consulting Group helped with the design and location for two COLTs that were deployed for the event. Other carriers followed suit as well. Carrier 3 and Carrier 4 both deployed one COLT and Carrier 2 was present with two COLTs as well. Temporary towers, although they can be an eye sore, have always have been there to benefit us. Without temporary towers present, we would not be able to live post photos and videos at all. In a world dominated by social media, it’s essential that we have temporary towers. COWs COLTs and TOWs are the reason we can document everything from our day-to-office happenings to the special night we get a backstage pass with our favorite band.

Next time you’re at Riot Fest, Lollapalooza, Rib Fest, Taste of Chicago, and other events: keep an eye out for these temporary towers. You’ll be happy they’re there.

COLTs: Coming to a festival near you!

Photo Credit: Niantic and Thomas England II