Clusters of personnel and equipment have been working along Olive Street and other parts of Pine Bluff over the past week as part of a project by Windstream Corp. of Little Rock to upgrade wireless data capacity for cell phone service providers.

Clusters of personnel and equipment have been working along Olive Street and other parts of Pine Bluff over the past week as part of a project by Windstream Corp. of Little Rock to upgrade wireless data capacity for cell phone service providers.

David Avery, director of corporate communications for Windstream, said Friday that the project involves the installation of 35 miles of fiber optic cable in the Pine Bluff and White Hall areas.

“The cellular carriers are in the process of upgrading their services to meet the growing bandwidth demands of their customers who are using smart phones, iPads, tablets, things like that,” Avery said. “Essentially the carriers need bigger data pipes from the cell tower back to their communications centers.”

The carriers contracted with the agency to transport traffic and to do that the company is upgrading the network infrastructure, Avery said.

“At the base of each cell tower is a box with electronic components inside,” Avery said. “Data is transmitted from that facility between poles back to another piece of communications equipment. That is the work that people see being done on the ground.”

“Essentially a cell phone is only wireless from the individual handset to the cell tower,” Avery said. “From there cable is either buried underground or strung airily between the tower sites.”

Avery said that a second ongoing project in the area is the installation of 25 miles of cable between Pine Bluff and Sheridan.

“This is what we call redundant backhaul fiber, which helps improve the reliability of the network in the event of an outage on another part of the network,” Avery said. “This way traffic can be rerouted in the event of an outage. Windstream is the incumbent local telephone company in Sheridan, which is why we are routing the cable between there and Pine Bluff. There is already redundant fiber in place bewteen Little Rock and Pine Bluff.”

Windstream was formed in 2006 through the spinoff of Alltel Corporation’s landline business and a merger with VALOR Communications Group.