Most Creative People list includes Ashcroft grad

Gary Chow, now an engineer with AT&T, was featured in Fast Company's list of 100 Creative People of 2013.

Gary Chow presents data for a multi-beam antenna.

Gary Chow presents data for a multi-beam antenna.

Formerly of Ashcroft, Gary Chow was recently honoured in a list of 100 Most Creative People of 2013 by Fast Company. Chow and co-worker Bob Matthews at AT&T were ranked 30 out of 100.

In 2010, AT&T engineers Chow and Matthews were tasked with preparing wireless coverage for an upcoming 2011 popular California music festival where over 100,000 people would by vying for wireless space on their cell phones. Together, they came up with the idea of a multi-beam antenna. Although some were skeptical, Chow and Matthews developed and tested the antenna in several large venues until they were confident of its success.

The array debuted at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2011 and increased peak capacity from 1 gigabyte per hour to 22 and also increased internet access speed.

It worked so well, said Chow, that AT&T’s largest competitors were taking notice of their “strange looking antennas”.

Today, their groundbreaking work to design the world’s first multi-beam antenna is standard in the world of wireless networks and copied by others in the industry. Some network teams even use the technology in the permanent network to cover high capacity areas like popular parks.

A Radio Access Network (RAN) Engineer generally works for a wireless carrier, such as AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. They deal with the air interface part of the network, so their responsibilities could involve finding tower locations and having cell sites built, designing the frequency plan, selecting antennas and downtilts, and finally optimizing the network.

Gary Chow graduated from Ashcroft Secondary School in 1980 and is now a RAN engineer with AT&T Mobility in Los Angeles.