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Cheltenham Festival: New mobile phone masts in place to boost signal

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 28, 2014

Cheltenham racegoers

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Cheltenham Racecourse bosses have invested in new technology in an attempt to end problems with mobile phones at the National Hunt Festival.

Racegoers have complained that trying to use their phones for calls, email and the internet during the four-day fixture next month can be impossible because of the lack of a signal.

Racecourse chief Ian Renton has announced that more masts have now been put up around Prestbury Park ahead of the Festival, which starts on Tuesday, March 11 and will attract crowds of 230,000 over the four days.

“As everyone is aware, over the last few years we have had an increasing number of issues with racegoers not being able to use mobile phones or Wi-Fi,” he said. “We’re trying to improve that this year, and we’ve got an extensive number of telephone masts and the actual technology within those masts to increase the mobile signal. They’re a much-higher capacity mobile mast than the previous ones. It will hugely increase 2G, 3G and 4G. In addition, we’re installing a Wi-Fi infrastructure.

“It’s very much a pilot scheme for this year’s Festival but certainly hope it’s going to improve communications for racegoers.”

Renton said work on building the new £45 million development at the racecourse would start straight after the Festival.

The development is needed to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of racegoers who cram into Prestbury Park for meetings, especially the Gold Cup Festival in March.

Renton said: “At the moment we’ve got the Arkle Stand, which is a temporary structure and replaced the boxes that were knocked down prior to the start of the season, so that is a new feature for this year’s Festival. Immediately following this year’s Festival we’re going to start a complete demolition of the remaining buildings in that area to create fantastic new grandstand which will be in place for 2016 and some of the facilities available for the 2015 Festival.”

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  • Mack247  |  February 28 2014, 8:37AM

    Sometimes as a race fan you wish the geeks would get their facts straight. Two hundred thousand people alll accessing one WIFI local area network at the same time? Last year drew a record crowd of 235,125, but this was across four days, so your two hundred thousand is more like sixty thousand.

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  • aroakley  |  February 26 2014, 9:33PM

    Sometimes as a computer geek I really wish I hadn't read certain articles. First off, the problem was not lack of signal, it was lack of network capacity. The device would show a strong signal but report "network busy". Secondly, GPRS/UTMS mobile phone networking has nothing to do with WiFi. They may well be installing additional WiFi access points but this won't help make mobile phone calls. Furthermore, the idea of two hundred thousand people all accessing one WiFi local area network at the same time is, as Yes Minister would put it, "a courageous decision". I would imagine that WiFi would need to be restricted to staff and journalists only, or priced extortionately high, in order to keep the number of users small. Thirdly, whilst they may well indeed be bringing in 4G base stations, the sheer number of mobile users in each cell will drag performance down to 2G levels, so boasting about the network layer is pretty much irrelevant.

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  • julianw  |  February 26 2014, 7:13PM

    Good news, because last year this also affected people in the area who weren't at the races.