5G upgrade now at Crisler Center

In November, Information and Technology Services (ITS) partnered with Verizon and U-M Athletics to complete a project to launch C-band 5G cellular service at Crisler Center – which is now among the first indoor arenas in the country to offer this technology.

The new service enhances the connectivity experience for our student-athletes and fans and delivers a highly reliable cellular service at this major U-M athletic facility.

“The project at Crisler is one part of a larger ITS initiative to deliver improved 5G and cellular service across campus and in key U-M venues in conjunction with carrier partners,” said Andy Palms, executive director for ITS Infrastructure.

Sponsored by ITS, a new Cellular Service Improvement project recently launched to address legacy infrastructure that has become insufficient. ITS is working with carriers to renew cellular systems on campus and deliver new 5G cellular service in key locations to meet the U-M community’s evolving needs.

John Simpkins, cellular systems service manager at ITS, said, “our goal is to ensure cellular capacity on campus stays out front of the demand, is delivered in an innovative and efficient way, and that we meet user expectations proactively.”

Verizon partnered with U-M to build this neutral host Distributed Antenna System (DAS) in Crisler Center in 2017 and launched it in 2018 with comprehensive support for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) to provide reliable cellular service and sufficient capacity for over 12,000 people during major events, like a Wolverine basketball game. AT&T has joined the DAS and ITS is working with T-Mobile to establish a campus presence that would enable it to join as well.

This upgrade to the DAS enables carriers to offer midband 5G (commonly branded as 5Guw, 5G+, or 5Guc). The new C-band 5G (3.7-3.98 GHz) layer adds bandwidth to the service and delivers lower latency, higher battery efficiency, and improved reliability compared with previous technologies. This makes it possible for users to stay in touch reliably with family and friends, use multiple apps simultaneously, upload photos and video clips to social media, follow game statistics in real-time, and more. 

Associate Athletic Director Paul Dunlop said, “We appreciate the partnership with ITS to deliver improved cellular service to both our teams and fans attending events at Crisler Center. Having good cellular service is an important amenity and we’re always striving to ensure our Athletic venues offer a great fan experience.”

While Verizon is the first carrier to launch 5G service on the upgraded system at Crisler, any carriers who connect to the DAS can use the new 5G equipment. ITS is accelerating the transformation of cellular systems that serve U-M and will continue to update the Michigan IT community as we make progress.