With thousands of data-hungry journalists set to descend on the Republican National Convention, the Tampa Convention Center has begun installing wireless antennas throughout the sprawling building to meet visitors' technological needs.
The first Wi-Fi node will go in this month, with more to follow by the time the RNC hits town Aug. 27, said convention center director Rick Hamilton.
Additionally, the convention center is adding miles of fiber-optic cable, Hamilton said.
Those upgrades have been on the books for a while, but they're going in as more than 15,000 journalists from across the world are expected to descend on Tampa.
Those journalists will be toting data-hungry smartphones and iPads. They will tweet and post to Facebook. They will broadcast from booths erected over the 58 days leading up to the convention.
They'll need access to the Internet to do all of that.
Hamilton expects the $300,000 in Wi-Fi improvements, paid for by the convention center, will meet the needs of visiting reporters. The center's wireless footprint will extend outward to include the Riverwalk and the Sail pavilion outside the convention center's main entrance.
"It'll cover from Platt Street to the Franklin Street bridge over to Harbour Island," Hamilton said.
Even as the convention center installs wireless routers, the area's cellphone providers have begun adding cell antennas to the building to guarantee phone service during the convention. Those antennas will remain when the convention leaves, according to Verizon spokesman Chuck Hanby.