UNWIRING THE VENETIAN

Competition for vacation and business travelers is as fierce in Las Vegas as anywhere in the world, especially among the town's marquee hotel/resort properties. In its drive to remain a leading destination, the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino has installed a multi-carrier cellular phone extension system that accommodates calls and data traffic for international as well as domestic guests.

With more than 4,000 guest suites, a 650,000 square-foot conference center, the two-million-square-foot Sands Expo Center, corporate offices, and a 160,000-square-foot casino, the Venetian complex is among the world's largest hotel properties. Soon after it opened, however, management found that cell phones used by staff and guests didn't always work. While Las Vegas itself has blanket coverage from external cell towers operated by Cingular, Sprint Nextel, Verizon and others, the Venetian's steel and concrete construction interfered with the signals, causing poor or non-existent coverage in several areas.

Based on recommendations from local wireless carriers, the Venetian spent two months installing an in-building cellular extension system. Carriers deployed small, indoor cell sites in a specially built room above the Venetian's casino, and these were connected via fiber optic and Ethernet data cabling to a system of distributed antennae located in ceilings throughout the resort. The small antennae are no more obtrusive than fire or smoke detectors, and their paintable surfaces made it easy for the Venetian's facilities crew to blend them into the ornate ceilings in the resort's public areas.

Now, visitors and staff can use phones, PDAs and mobile e-mail devices from any international or domestic carrier anywhere in the complex. The hotel's new 3,000-suite tower will also feature cellular coverage from the same system. The provider of the hubs and antennae is LGC Wireless of San Jose, CA. The base stations were installed by Verizon, AT&T Wireless (including Cingular) and Sprint Nextel.

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