October 31, 2014

Levi’s Stadium Wi-Fi update: Usage down from record, but still strong — 2.4 TB for Eagles game

Fans take pictures of opening-day kickoff from southwest concourse. Credit, all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

Fans take pictures of opening-day kickoff from southwest concourse. Credit, all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

With three NFL games and now one collegiate contest under its belt, the Wi-Fi network at Levi’s Stadium is still handling big loads of data traffic, though not quite at the Super Bowl-beating level of 3.3 Terabytes recorded at the Niners’ home opener.

According to statistics provided by Niners vice president for technology Dan Williams, the Levi’s Wi-Fi network carried 2.4 TB of data during the Sept. 28 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and another 2 TB during the Oct. 5 contest with the Kansas City Chiefs, both sellouts with reported attendance of 70,799 fans. And at an Oct. 24 college game between Cal and Oregon with 55,575 fans in attendance, the network carried 1.5 TB of traffic.

As you might be able to guess from the bandwidth numbers, the Sept. 28 game also had more users on the network, with 22,942 unique users, compared to 21,133 at the Oct. 5 game. For Cal-Oregon the unique user count was 13,508. At the Niners’ regular-season home opener on Sept. 14, there were more than 30,000 fans using the Wi-Fi network, with a peak of 19,000 simultaneous connections. The peak numbers for the later dates were 15,500 for the Sept. 28 game, 14,500 for the Oct. 5 game, and 8,400 for the college game.

In-seat and express food orders stay strong

Screen grab from Levi's Stadium app showing in-seat food delivery option. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report.

Screen grab from Levi’s Stadium app showing in-seat food delivery option.

Food and beverage orders via the Levi’s Stadium app appear to be holding between the 1,500-2,000 order level for both the express pickup option as well as the in-seat delivery, with both features available to every seat in the house. According to Williams, for the Eagles game there were 1,144 express pick-up orders and 1,652 in-seat deliveries, while at the Kansas City game there were 1,162 express and 1,712 in-seat orders. At the Cal-Oregon game, where many fans were probably not as aware of the Levi’s app functionality, there were 551 express orders and 308 in-seat deliveries.

The video-replay feature of the Levi’s app also continues to attract solid interest, with 1,297 unique users watching 5,089 replays at the Eagles game and 1,111 unique users watching 4,986 replays at the Kansas City game. At the college game 234 fans used the replay feature, watching 1,059 replays.

One more interesting stat provided by Williams — the Apple iPhone is the overwhelming favorite device for connecting to the Levi’s Stadium Wi-Fi, with 62 percent share for the Sept. 28 game, and 60 percent share for both the Oct. 5 and Oct. 24 games. Android devices represented 24 percent (Sept. 28), 26 percent (Oct. 5) and 25 percent of all devices, while Apple iPads accounted for 2 percent, 3 percent and 1 percent of devices for the respective Sept. 28, Oct. 5 and Oct. 24 games.

DAS usage also remains strong, but not tops in NFL

On the DAS side of the Levi’s Stadium network we have some stats from AT&T to share (but none from any other carriers). According to AT&T, for the Oct. 5 game AT&T customers used 549 GB of data, which was only the fourth-highest AT&T DAS total for that weekend. Dallas (827 GB), San Diego (716 GB) and New Orleans (598 GB) all had higher AT&T DAS traffic totals for that weekend’s games. (Remember, these are results for stadiums with AT&T DAS networks only, not for all stadiums.) For the Sept. 14 game, the Levi’s Stadium AT&T DAS recorded 673 GB of traffic, according to AT&T.

Seahawks, Verizon tap Extreme for CenturyLink Field Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi access point antennas visible on poles. All photos, credit: Extreme Networks/Seattle Seahawks.

Wi-Fi access point antennas visible on poles. All photos, credit: Extreme Networks/Seattle Seahawks.

Ending one of the bigger stadium Wi-Fi mysteries of 2014, the Seattle Seahawks and Verizon announced today that they are using Extreme Networks Wi-Fi gear and analytics software to power the new Wi-Fi network at CenturyLink field in Seattle, home of the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

While the network has (reportedly) been live since the start of the NFL regular season, today’s press release is the first official confirmation that the network exists from Verizon or the Seahawks. Previously, Mobile Sports Report had confirmed the network’s existence in an exclusive interview with the NFL’s CIO, Michelle McKenna-Doyle, where McKenna-Doyle said she had helped set up the connection between Verizon and CenturyLink. But no specifics on gear suppliers or breadth and depth of network were available until today.

According to Norman Rice, senior vice president of corporate development at Extreme Networks, CenturyLink Field is the sixth NFL stadium to use Extreme’s IndentFi high-density Wi-Fi gear for its Wi-Fi network, joining deployments by the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tennessee Titans and the Cincinnati Bengals. All six franchises including Seattle will also use Extreme’s Purview analytics software, which helps provide Wi-Fi usage patterns and connectivity information that allows network administrators to fine tune the network.

We are scheduled to speak with some of the CenturyLink Field IT folks today so we will update this post with more info, including (we hope) a Wi-Fi access point count and some more details about the Seahawks app, which apparently has some nifty live video and replay features. Verizon has also said it has installed a DAS at CenturyLink, but there is no information on whether or not it is a neutral DAS and if so whether or not other carriers are on it.

Below are some more photos of the Wi-Fi install, including a railing antenna… more info soon.

Railing AP

Railing AP

More pole-mounted Wi-Fi gear.

More pole-mounted Wi-Fi gear.

AT&T: DAS network also set traffic records for 2014 World Series games at AT&T Park

Giants CIO Bill Schlough (left) talks with workers in the park's main DAS head end facility.

Giants CIO Bill Schlough (left) talks with workers in the park’s main DAS head end facility.

In addition to the over-the-top Wi-Fi usage numbers, it turns out that the in-stadium AT&T cellular network also experienced record usage during the recent World Series games at AT&T Park, with Saturday night’s crowd using 477 Gigabytes of data, according to AT&T.

In case you’re not familiar with the DAS acronym, it stands for distributed antenna system, and basically is a network of small antennas that bring cellular service to the tightly packed fans inside stadiums or other large public venues. At AT&T Park, AT&T runs the network as a neutral host, meaning that Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile customers can also use the DAS to connect. If you’re in the park and you haven’t enabled your device to connect via Wi-Fi, you’re probably connected via the DAS. However, the stats provided here are only for AT&T customers on the DAS, since AT&T doesn’t have visibility into the other carriers’ metrics. Since the Wi-Fi network is open to all, the Wi-Fi numbers we reported earlier are for all customers, no matter who their provider is.

But even just the AT&T cellular numbers are pretty impressive, perhaps not surprisingly so since a good-weather World Series game is a bucket-list event for most attendees, meaning that texts, tweets, selfies and Vines were likely flowing freely at all three games in San Francisco. Here’s a breakdown from AT&T about how much more data was used during the games last weekend:

– Fans used an average of approximately 447GB of data per game over the weekend on the AT&T cellular network. This is equivalent to more than 1.27M social media post with photos.

– The numbers represent an increase of approximately 29 percent in cellular data usage compared to the average game during the League Championship series vs. St. Louis.

– It’s an increase of approximately 109 percent in cellular data usage compared to the average game during the final home series of the regular season vs. San Diego (9/25-9/28).

– The peak hour of data usage during three home games was on 10/25 was from 5-6pm PT, the hour in which the first pitch occurred. In this hour more than 83GB of data crossed the AT&T venue-specific cellular network.

According to AT&T, the total combined Wi-Fi and AT&T DAS traffic hit a record high of 2.09 Terabytes on Oct. 25, the highest single-game total in AT&T Park network history. What would be even more interesting would be if we could get DAS statistics from Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile to get the total-total number for wireless data consumed during the biggest games of the year.

Half a stadium using Wi-Fi? 2014 World Series games set Wi-Fi records at AT&T Park

Though this year’s World Series still isn’t over, the three games this past weekend in San Francisco set new local records for fan Wi-Fi use, arguably cementing AT&T Park’s title as baseball’s best-connected stadium.

One of the more stunning numbers provided to us by Bill Schlough, the senior vice president and CIO for the Giants, was that nearly half the crowd in AT&T Park for Sunday’s Game 5 used the Wi-Fi network — a “take rate” we’ve never heard of before at any sporting event of any kind. According to Schlough the Giants’ Wi-Fi network had 20,638 unique users during Game 5, a take rate of 49.7 percent. (According to the official box score, the attendance that night was 43,087, give or take a Panda or four.) The game also set an AT&T Park record for Wi-Fi upload traffic with 747 Gigabytes of data being sent by people at the park out to the network.

(Including one special photo tweeted out by a former Giant you may have heard of.)

A record for downloaded Wi-Fi traffic, of 937 GB, was set during Friday night’s Game 3, and the record for a combination of download and upload traffic was set during Game 4, with a total of 1.62 Terabytes. According to Schlough, the total data transferred during the eight games of the 2014 postseason at AT&T Park was 10.3 TB, which is easily the high-water mark for any baseball stadium network we know of. (The total does not include regular cellular traffic carried by the AT&T Park DAS; we will add those numbers in when they become available.)

And while individual games such as Super Bowls or contests down the San Francisco Peninsula at Levi’s Stadium may set higher overall marks (thanks in part to having more fans in the building), we’d be interested to see if any other stadium networks can match AT&T Park’s season-long data number of 59.3 TB, which according to Schlough represents total traffic over 2014′s 91 games (regular and postseason) at AT&T Park.

One more fun number from Schlough: Since the park turned on its fan-facing Wi-Fi network in 2004, there have been 4,085,518 Wi-Fi connections during the 946 game days. Kansas City’s Kaufmann Stadium, which just got its Wi-Fi network installed recently, has one or two more games this season to start trying to catch the Giants from a networking perspective.

UPDATE: Looks like the Royals are claiming some already-decent usage of their Wi-Fi network:

Confirmed: KC has MLB-provided Wi-Fi, part of plan to bring Wi-Fi and DAS to all MLB stadiums

KC fans at seriesThe rumored Wi-Fi network at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium is now a confirmed entity, according to Joe Inzerillo, executive vice president and CTO for MLB.com. In a phone call Thursday, Inzerillo said the Royals’ new network is part of a league-wide effort to bring Wi-Fi to all MLB parks, a task he thinks may take another year or two to complete.

As MLB.com has stated publicly before — but maybe not spelled out in so much detail — it has a program under which Major League Baseball teams can “opt in” to have MLB.com and the nation’s top four wireless carriers participate in the funding and building of both Wi-Fi and DAS networks in MLB stadiums. Though he wouldn’t divulge the specific financial commitments for specific deals, Inzerillo said that under the program “everyone has some skin in the game,” though he did allow that the league and the carriers, not the teams, foot the bulk of the bills.

Still, Inzerillo stressed that individual teams play a huge role in the Wi-Fi deployments, from design to deployment to management on site. “It’s not just like we show up and we’re the Wi-Fi fairies,” Inzerillo said. “This program wouldn’t be possible without the teams and the work they do.”

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.27.54 PMGiven MLB’s synchronized digital strategy of having the same app — and only the same app — available for fans in each ballpark, Inzerillo said that having high-quality cellular and Wi-Fi networks in each stadium was a key necessity, especially to make MLB app functions like seat upgrades and concession purchases work.

“You need to have the right [network] plumbing in place or none of the other stuff matters,” Inzerillo said.

Kauffman Stadium’s network, Inzerillo said, was just one of about a dozen MLB Wi-Fi projects that got underway this year. That it was finished in time for postseason play was just luck, and not some last-minute installation due to the Royals’ on-field successes. “It was just a fortuitous thing that it was ready,” said Inzerillo, who said that construction of Wi-Fi at Kauffman had been ongoing for the past 5 to 6 months.

Though the network wasn’t promoted on the team’s website or anywhere else on the Internet, Inzerillo said the Royals were promoting it at the stadium. Even without a lot of advertising, fans found the network, he said, claiming “tens of thousands” of Wi-Fi connections during the Royals’ postseason run. However, Inzerillo also said some extra cellular trucks were brought in by some of the carriers for the Royals playoff games because the DAS at Kauffman isn’t quite finished yet.

Inzerillo said that anywhere from 22 to 26 teams will eventually end up using some combination of league-provided Wi-Fi and/or DAS. The league’s goal of having every stadium fully wired should be nearly complete by opening day of 2015, he said, with a more likely “final” goal of complete coverage reached sometime in 2016. In 2014, Mobile Sports Report research showed that 10 of the 30 MLB stadiums didn’t have fan-facing Wi-Fi; some of those teams (like Kansas City) will be getting MLB networks, while some other program participants are upgrading existing systems, Inzerillo said.

Under the MLB network deal, the DAS in each stadium will be a neutral-host deployment hosted by one of the four major U.S. cellular carriers — AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile — depending on things like regional/historical market share and existing contracts, Inzerillo said. While the carriers will operate the MLB DAS deployments, the Wi-Fi networks will be deployed, run and monitored by MLB, either from its New York City or San Francisco network operation centers, Inzerillo said. Wi-Fi gear will come mainly from Cisco, though Inzerillo said there is also a small percentage of Meru Networks gear based on teams that had previously installed Meru equipment.

Though Inzerillo said MLB may make some overall announcement once the league-wide project is completed, he didn’t necessarily think that having working Wi-Fi and DAS in stadiums was such a big deal.

“It’s kind of a weird thing to think about bragging about,” said Inzerillo, who compared Wi-Fi and DAS to plumbing as a basic stadium necessity, not an amenity. Having high quality networks, he said, “are table stakes for a modern facility.”

UPDATE: The Kansas City Royals are now officially promoting the Wi-Fi, with some usage claims:

Reports: Free Wi-Fi now available at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium for World Series

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 2.38.07 PMAccording to reports from Kansas City, the previously Wi-Fi-less Kauffman Stadium now has a working free Wi-Fi network for fans, apparently installed recently by Major League Baseball’s advanced media group. Though we haven’t yet received any official confirmation about the network’s launch from either the Royals organization or from MLBAM, two separate sources confirmed that free Wi-Fi is available in the stadium, and apparently has been for a few weeks now.

In our reporting about MLB Wi-Fi deployments for our Q2 Stadium Tech Report, we found that Kauffman Stadium was one of 10 MLB parks not yet offering Wi-Fi for fans in the seats. But since this spring MLBAM has publicly said that it plans to help install Wi-Fi in the remaining parks that need it, including helping to pay for the deployment if necessary. One possible reason for the speedy deployment at Kauffman could be the joint marketing deal between Apple, MasterCard and MLBAM to promote the use of the new Apple Pay service, which is being offered at both Kauffman Stadium and AT&T Park during the World Series. San Francisco’s AT&T Park already has Wi-Fi, a service the Giants have offered fans since 2004.

Though a thorough search of the Kansas City Royals’ team website shows no mention of Wi-Fi services available at Kauffman stadium, one Twitter user has reported finding a free “speedy” Wi-Fi service at recent playoff games there, and another visitor to the park for yesterday’s World Series opener also reported a live Wi-Fi service available to fans. Another tipster has told us that the network uses Cisco Wi-Fi gear, but again, nothing has yet been officially confirmed.

Anyone lucky enough to have a ticket to tonight’s Game 2, send us a Wi-Fi speedtest if you can…