Verizon has joined U.S. Cellular in leasing access to an antenna that boosts service in Chesapeake Energy Arena during Thunder games and other events, and AT&T may not be far behind.
The Oklahoma City Council is expected to formally approve a contract Tuesday between the city and Verizon that allows the wireless company to use the antenna for at least five years. U.S. Cellular, one of the Thunder's main corporate sponsors, has been using the antenna since before the team's first home game this year.
The $105,000 antenna is part of the $93.1 million in ongoing renovations at the arena paid for by a voter-approved penny sales tax. The companies that opt to use it pay the city $24,000 per year and a $6,000 startup fee, and the city's public property authority keeps money that's not needed for maintenance on the antenna.
The city council's approval of the contract will be retroactive to the beginning of the year, when Verizon started using the antenna after it hooked up the necessary equipment.
The antenna, called a multicarrier distributed access system, helps strengthen service for participating carriers during events at the arena. It also helps wireless customers near the arena who will no longer have to compete for the same signal as the thousands of people inside.
“When customers are in the arena, they like to text people who aren't at the game or check other (scores of) games, so they need data service for a number of reasons,” said Ginger Daril, a Verizon regional spokeswoman. “Our system upgrade is in place and working extremely well.”