TAMPA, Fla. - About 5,000 people are attending the United Methodist Church convention in Tampa this week. Most are having no problem making phone calls, but those sending lots of pictures and video through the internet are having hiccups.
"I think there's a capacity issue because it's sporadic. Sometimes I'm getting denial of service," said David Grady of Atlanta.
Ten times more people are expected for the Republican National Convention in August. AT&T announced an investment of an extra $15 million dollars in cellular infrastructure to make sure the thousands of smart phones and iPads don't clog the system.
"This convention is the world coming to Tampa Bay and it is our plan to be sure to bring Tampa Bay to the world," said Marshall Criser, Florida President of AT&T.
This morning, members of the media were led up a freight elevator to the catwalks of the convention center to see the equipment AT&T is installing. So-called distributed antennae systems will accommodate the tsunami of tweets, check-ins and Facebook postings during the convention.
"An analogy of that would almost be like adding 300 lanes to I-275 or I-4," said Criser.
Most of these improvements will be left in place after the convention, improving service for 150 square miles around downtown Tampa.
This is what Mayor Bob Buckhorn calls an RNC legacy project, along with improvements to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and even the newly-planted palm trees on Bayshore Boulevard.
"This is a one week event, but a lifetime of improvements," said Buckhorn.