Bright House Networks Preparing for Republican National Convention in Tampa

Some 50,000 visitors, including delegates, alternate delegates, media and other guests, are expected to descend on Tampa Bay area in late August for the Republican National Convention and Bright House Networks plans on being ready for them -- technologically speaking.

Named by the GOP's committee of arrangements, Bright House Networks, the predominant distributor in the Tampa DMA, will serve as the official telecommunications provider of the Republican National Convention, slated for Aug. 27-30. In this capacity, Bright House will provide the complete video, voice and data infrastructure around the event at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where it is currently a major marketing sponsor and service provider, and the Tampa Bay Convention Center.

Services include dedicated access Internet services scalable from 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps and metro Ethernet, according to Kimberly Maki, vice president, corporate communications and Web strategies at Bright House. The MSO will also offer its Metro Ethernet produce sets, which afford users multiple locations connections by combining the Ethernet with the superior reliability and redundancy of its fiber optic backbone with multiple self-healing rings. The operator will also supply hosting services, 24/7 network management and technical support.

Maki said convention attendees will also find Bright House Networks WiFi in some of Tampa's outdoor areas, as part of its public initiative. The company is working with the RNC teams to identify select areas within the venues to support the needs of the convention, which will extend to huge capacity to handle calls, emails, blogging, social networking and television.

Maki said that in anticipation of increased network demand in downtown Tampa, the cable company plans to significantly expand its extensive fiber infrastructure in and around the key convention and attendee locations.

"Network experts have surveyed and verified existing facilities around the city and are already underway to extend fiber optic networks already serving millions of Florida businesses and residents," she said. "We will be certain that Bright House Networks infrastructure is capable of handling the always-on communications needs of the thousands of attendees expected."

As to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Bright House is already working to enhance the communications infrastructure within the facility, just as the owners are upgrading the brick and mortar edifice itself, according to Maki.

While Bright House has not served in this political manner before, it does have experience providing technical support at another highly charged venue: Daytona's NASCAR event. Maki said the biggest difference in the services provided for the RNC and other conventions is the" high demand for high-speed video transport services between the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the convention center and from these locations to other local networks for handoff within the city."

Bright House officials indicate they plan on leaning on the acumen of some other providers, like Comcast, which wired the 2000 RNC in its First Union Center (now Wells Fargo Center) in Philadelphia. Although the Democrats have yet to make an announcement concerning a telecommunications provider for their convention during early September in Charlotte, it is expected that the nation's No. 2 MSO will serve in a similar capacity there at Time Warner Cable Arena, where it supplies a customized TV and Internet package, and Bank of America Stadium (tailored TV services). Bright House plans on consulting with TWC to support the convention efforts in their respective markets.

The cable company's game plan extends to news currency as well. For the RNC, Bright House will deploy all of its 300-member local programming group, with news networks Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13 offering more coverage than any other news station in the state. InfoMas, its Spanish-language news and information network, will also be offering expansive event coverage, said Maki.