Formerly known as Wikibon
Close this search box.

Going to the Boston Marathon? Got COWs?

The 2024 Boston Marathon will be held on Monday, April 15th and there will be 30,000 runners in this year’s event and an anticipated crowd of approximately 500,000 spectators that will gather along the route to cheer on the runners. The 26.2-mile event stretches across eastern MA, starting in Hopkinton, MA, and concluding on Boylston Street in Boston, MA. It is safe to say that these spectators will be spending a lot of time checking social media apps on their phones, taking and sharing pictures, and calling family members to provide updates. For mobile operators, ensuring adequate coverage and positive experiences can be a significant challenge as certain areas along the race become densely populated. Keep in mind this coverage is also important for first responders as well.

To better understand how Verizon plans to support its customers and first responders, I stopped by the Boston Marathon finish line and caught up with the Verizon technical team that was tasked with ensuring mobile connectivity for first responders and the public attending the marathon. This brings me to the title of this blog post. We met outside by a large white truck that was decked out with antennas, see Figure 1. These rigs are referred to as Cellular on Wheels or “COWs”. These COWs are used to provide additional cellular capacity in densely populated areas of the course. For some reason, my mind was drawn to the quarter-of-century-old “Got Milk” ad campaign. But in this case, it would be “Got COWs?” as these are essential to provide the much-needed cellular coverage for high-density environments. 

While I got a tour of the COW Verizon had at the finish
line, it is not the only one at the event. Verizon is deploying four COWs at
this year’s marathon, covering the starting line, finish line, and two other
locations along the route that are traditionally densely populated -such as
Kenmore Square (Fenway Park). Each of these vehicles can support well over ten
thousand active users (14-15K) at any moment and provide both 4G and 5G
coverage. For those technically curious, the Verizon COWs use multiple different
spectrum bands including C-band, CBRS, and millimeter wave.

What does that mean for a Verizon cellular user? It means that if you are in proximity to one of these COWs and have a 5G-enabled device, then you have the potential to have a 3-4 Gb data link, which means you can very quickly access applications, view and share pictures or videos of the event while at these locations. It also ensures first responders can communicate effectively as well. To ensure seamless delivery of these services, each COW is connected to Verizon fiber to backhaul the traffic.

Attending an event like the Boston Marathon is a special experience and the ability to share that experience with others via social media apps, pictures, videos, and phone calls makes it all that much better. Verizon is working hard to deliver its customers and first responders have the additional cellular capacity at critical points of the marathon route to deliver the best and safest possible experience for all. Got COWs? Verizon does, and you will see them at the Boston Marathon.

Book A Briefing

Fill out the form , and our team will be in touch shortly.
Skip to content