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Fontainebleau Miami Beach Says Goodbye to Cellular Connectivity Woes

Long a symbol of luxury in Miami, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach provides the ultimate experience in relaxation on Miami's renowned beachfront. From 2005 to 2008, the resort underwent a $1 billion renovation of its original two towers, Chateau and Versailles, and construction of two new towers, Sorrento and Tresor. The hotel now offers more than 1500 guest rooms and suites, 11 restaurants and nightclubs, and a 40,000 square foot spa on a 22-acre oceanfront site.

The goal of the renovation was to once again make the Fontainebleau the top resort in Miami. But amid the new luxury, there was a problem with cellular connectivity. At the hotel's re-opening in the spring of 2008, management began getting complaints about poor cellular service in some of the meeting rooms, public areas, and guest rooms on the east (oceanfront) side of the facility. Although the buildings are within sight of AT&T and Verizon cell towers, the signals didn't reach all areas of the property with enough strength to provide adequate coverage everywhere.

"We didn't want to be known as the hippest hotel on the beach without cell phone coverage; we wanted to be the best hotel on the beach, period, so we knew we had to take care of the problem," says David Chin, director of IT at The Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

The ADC advantage
Chin and his team considered several different solutions, including single-carrier systems and multi-carrier systems. Eventually, they decided to go with a multi-carrier system to accommodate as many guests as possible by supporting service from the area's four major wireless carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Chin chose an InterReach Fusion system from ADC based on the company's reputation, the better price/performance combination offered by the system, and the outstanding service offered by ADC's sales and support staff.

"ADC not only offered the most performance for the money, but they were incredibly responsive," says Chin. "We knew they were a major player in the in-building cellular business, but it was the structure of the deal and their incredible support that won us over. Their representative was on-site here for every carrier walk-through, and his willingness to work with us was really important."

Another advantage to the Fusion system is its ability to easily support multiple carriers with a single set of electronics. The system's active, double-star architecture delivers full signal strength to every antenna, regardless of its distance from the signal source, and the active hubs provide end-to-end monitoring and management to ensure that any problems are immediately reported and can be dealt with quickly.

Deployment details
The deployment was a two-phase operation that began in April 2009. In Phase I, ADC would cover 600,000 square feet of meeting rooms, public areas, and underground "back-of-the-house" areas on the first five levels of the resort's buildings. Once the full impact of the Phase I deployment had been measured, Phase II would add more Fusion equipment along with ADC FlexWave Prism outdoor antennas as needed to deliver coverage to the oceanfront guest rooms and pool areas.

The Fusion equipment ordered for the Phase I deployment included 3 Main Hubs, 9 Expansion Hubs, and 64 remote antenna units (RAUs). Since the initial carriers using the system were AT&T and Verizon, ADC's team was able to pull those carriers' cellular signals from the air using roof-mounted donor antennas, which fed the signals via cable to amplifiers and the Fusion Main Hubs located in the equipment room on the ground floor of the Versailles building.

By the time the equipment was being readied for shipment in March of 2009, however, the hotel faced a major challenge. "We had a large group that had booked the entire hotel for a week, and we were getting a lot of complaints about the lack of cellular service in the public areas," says Chin. "I called our rep at ADC and asked if there was anything we could do before the official deployment took place."

In response, ADC sent part of the equipment to Miami via overnight express, and ADC's installers deployed it within two days as a test system to address the immediate need. "ADC really went above and beyond the call of duty for us," says Chin, "and even the temporary system eliminated our complaints.

In April of 2009, the permanent Phase I deployment took place over a period of ten days, and it solved most of the coverage issues. "I haven't gotten a single e-mail or message about coverage since it went in," says Chin.

Currently, the hotel provides service through the ADC system to AT&T and Verizon subscribers, and it is in discussions with Sprint and T-Mobile to add their signals to the system. Fortunately, the Fusion system makes it easy to expand the number of carriers on the system with minimal changes. The hotel is also evaluating moving ahead with Phase II deployments.

But for David Chin, the best part of the ADC system is already in place. "It has eliminated e-mails and phone calls to me about the problems, and as we book large groups in the future we'll be able to provide outstanding service in every area."
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