May 30, 2016

Verizon doubles down on wireless coverage for Indy 500; expects near 20 TB on race weekend

Screen shot of Verizon IndyCar app showing live action.

Screen shot of Verizon IndyCar app showing live action.

This year’s Indianapolis 500 is sure to be well-attended, given it’s the 100th running of the grand old race. To make sure fans there have solid wireless connectivity during the event, Verizon Wireless said it basically doubled its capacity from last year, in anticipation of a doubling of data use during the “bucket list” day at the Brickyard.

According to Verizon, last year fans at Indy used more than 9 terabytes of data on Verizon wireless networks during the race weekend, which include the track’s only DAS (distributed antenna system) and some temporary cell sites. For the 2016 race, Verizon said it has installed “100 percent more capacity to the IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway_ track and immediate surrounding area,” including 16 small cell sites around the track’s exterior, replacing some of the need for temporary towers like cells on wheels or cells on trucks.

In addition, Verizon has brought to Indy three “custom-designed” cells-on-a-platform or COPs, each of which “has the capacity equivalent to 7 temporary cell sites known as COWs (cell-on-wheels),” Verizon said.

A "cell on platform," or COP, installed at Indy

A “cell on platform,” or COP, installed at Indy

On race day itself in 2015, Verizon said it saw 3.16 TB of data used on its network, which was more than double to 1.4 TB Verizon saw in 2014. The full weekend of racing from Friday through Sunday’s 100th running of the Indy 500 includes popular events like Carb day on Friday, and a Legends Day and concerts on Saturday.

IndyCar app will use LTE Multicast to show live race views

Verizon customers will also have access to live race feeds via the IndyCar mobile app, which will use LTE Multicast technology to provide one-to-many live video streams over dedicated LTE bandwidth. Verizon said it will have cameras for the feeds installed on “at least” 12 cars in the race, and will have simulataneous broadcast from inside two of the cars. Like with NFL Mobile, Verizon’s exclusive deal with the Indy 500 means that you will need to be a Verizon subscriber to see the live action via the IndyCar app.

Mobilitie brings DAS, Wi-Fi to Tacoma Dome

Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, Wash. Credit: Tacoma Dome Instagram page.

Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, Wash. Credit: Tacoma Dome Instagram page.

One of the more iconic venues in the Pacific Northwest, the Tacoma Dome, now has high-speed wireless connectivity inside thanks to a new DAS and Wi-Fi network install from Mobilitie.

According to the Tacoma Dome, Mobilitie installed more than 130 DAS antennas and 190 Wi-Fi APs in both the 23,000-seat Dome as well as in the adjacent Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, which are located just south of Seattle. With its all-wood white domed ceiling, the Tacoma Dome is well known by fans who have been to events inside as well as to area drivers who can see the structure from the I-5 highway nearby.

Though the Dome doesn’t currently have a pro sports team tenant, it does seem to be able to capture its share of big-ticket events, including motocross as well as big stadium concert acts. The I Love the 90s tour is hitting Tacoma on Aug. 26 and Drake on Sept. 16, followed by Def Leppard (with REO Speedwagon and Tesla opening!) on Oct. 1.

According to Mobilitie, it owns the network at the Dome and the convention center, a business model like the one Mobilitie uses in Columbus. Right now Verizon Wireless is on the DAS at the Dome, with AT&T and T-Mobile to follow soon, according to Mobilitie. And if anyone goes there soon, send us a speed test! Interested to see how the big wood dome treats Wi-Fi.

AVAI Mobile scores big with new Daytona Speedway app

Screenshot of Daytona app. Credit: AVAI Mobile

Screenshot of Daytona app. Credit: AVAI Mobile

Denny Hamlin may have won the race, but there was another victor at the Daytona 500 this year, as the 2016 event saw the debut of a new mobile app for the speedway designed by AVAI Mobile of Austin, Texas. According to AVAI the Daytona app was just the first in a series of apps for International Speedway Corp. (ISC) tracks, a deal that may signal another serious entrant into the growing market for stadium and other large-venue mobile apps.

AVAI Mobile CEO Rand Arnold said that ISC approached AVAI looking for a way to combine different parts of a race-day digital fan experience that ISC was already using, including racing content, a beacon/wayfinding infrastructure as well as a loyalty program and push marketing.

“They were looking to completely change the [digital] fan experience, and they needed someone to tie all the things together,” said Arnold in a recent phone interview. Under a NASCAR-fast deadline — Arnold said AVAI completed the app project in 90 days from design to launch — AVAI used its modular architecture to build and launch a new Daytona venue app ahead of this year’s race, one that Arnold said was used by 30 percent of attendees.

Wayfinding an important feature at sprawling Daytona

If there was one feature that was key in getting fans to use the app it was the active wayfinding and maps feature, Arnold said. As an enormous, sprawling venue, a NASCAR track is always a challenge for fans to find their way around; it was especially so at Daytona this year given all the renovated spaces that were part of the track’s “Daytona Rising” refurbishment of grandstands and other fan areas.

“It’s a huge venue,” Arnold said of Daytona. “And if as a fan you wanted to take advantage of technology [to find your way around], that meant you were going to use the app.”

Map interface from Daytona app.

Map interface from Daytona app.

The Daytona app also featured integration with the existing FanVision experience, which provides race fans with in-car camera and scanner content; it also had a fully interactive site map, with the ability to “mark” areas like favored concession stands or where you parked your car; there is also support for a fan loyalty program as well as user-selected push messaging, where fans could be alerted to things like shorter concession lines, or autograph sessions with drivers.

Arnold said AVAI’s overall strategy of having an app platform that was purpose-built to integrate easily with third-party features enabled the quick turnaround on the Daytona app. He said that “making it easy to integrate APIs and SDKs” from existing services like analytics, content or other services may make sense to more venues, as they seek to integrate tools they are already using into a single mobile-app platform.

Concert deals now, more stadiums later?

Though AVAI Mobile has more than a few big-event customers — the company just announced a deal to provide mobile technology for C3 Events, which runs the Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza festivals, among others — the Daytona/ISC deal is probably the company’s biggest stadium “name” deal so far.

And unlike VenueNext, the app developer for the San Francisco 49ers that has made a name for itself by providing cutting-edge services like in-seat food and beverage delivery, AVAI Mobile will more likely seek customers who are looking for a more pragmatic approach, Arnold said.

“Some things deliver less return for a lot more money,” said Arnold, talking about possible features a stadium app could provide. “I think sometimes you can offer services that are in the end, just not that much better. You need to ask how far you want to go, and figure out what’s best.”

AT&T: Data use growth continues during second rounds of NBA, NHL playoffs

Photo: NBA.com

Photo: NBA.com

As the NHL and NBA playoffs march toward the championship rounds, fans at second-round playoff games continued to use more wireless data than during the regular season, according to figures from AT&T’s cellular networks inside the postseason-hosting venues.

For both leagues the average and overall usage was almost dead even — according to figures sent to us by AT&T, fans on its networks at NHL sites used a total of 5 terabytes of wireless traffic, an average of 210 GB per game. For the NBA, AT&T said it saw a total of 4.1 TB of data used during second-round games, for an average of 211 GB per game.

In the NBA, the leading data use on AT&T networks was at games hosted by the Oklahoma City Thunder, with an average of 422 GB per game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. For hockey the most data was used by fans at games hosted by the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center, where AT&T said it saw and average of 390 GB used per second-round game.

SignalShare sued for $7.8 million over alleged fraudulent leases

Screen shot of nGage Fan Feed. Credit: SignalShare

Screen shot of nGage Fan Feed. Credit: SignalShare

SignalShare, a company involved in bringing Wi-Fi networks and associated fan-experience apps to stadiums, is being sued by an equipment leasing company over a dispute involving allegedly fraudulent leases by SignalShare, and SignalShare’s default on an agreement to pay back money obtained through those leases. A report on the Law360 website said the case filed in Massachusetts federal court by NFS Leasing of Beverly, Mass., on Jan. 28, 2016, seeks $7.8 million from SignalShare.

SignalShare, which has partnered with Wi-Fi gear vendor Extreme Networks on deployments for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the University of Maryland and the Detroit Red Wings, has most recently touted its Live-Fi nGage suite, a system that combines content, analytics and advertising links to give venue owners and operators a turnkey method to improve fan engagement and perhaps increase revenue opportunities for large-venue Wi-Fi networks.

According to the Law360 story, the lawsuit from NFS Leasing claims that SignalShare “began requesting financing from NFS for purchasing equipment for fictitious contracts,” using forged, altered and falsified documents for deals that didn’t exist. From the Law360 report, which quotes from the legal complaint:

“[SignalShare] would represent to NFS that it had entered into an agreement with a sports arena or team and would induce NFS to provide funding for the acquisition of the allegedly-needed equipment,” the complaint said.

SignalShare would provide fake or forged invoices for the equipment it allegedly ordered, or provide fictitious serial numbers for items allegedly purchased and installed in the fraudulent contracts, the complaint said.

Between May 20, 2014 and May 21, 2015, SignalShare conned NFS into advancing funds on 10 fraudulent lease transactions to the tune of $4.9 million, the complaint said.

The Law360 story also said that NFS Leasing and SignalShare agreed to a short-term repayment of the debts incurred, but that SignalShare defaulted on the payments. With interest and attorney fees, NFS is claiming SignalShare owes $7.8 million.

So far, neither NFS nor SignalShare has replied to a request for more information.

UPDATE, 5/18/16: Since the original post we have obtained more court documents related to the case, which indicate that former SignalShare CTO Joe Costanzo has left the company and is counter-suing SignalShare over its actions regarding this issue. More to come later today.

Is WrestleMania the perfect storm for mobile-content consumption? Listen to Podcast No. 4 to find out!

Episode 4 of the STADIUM TECH REPORT PODCAST is live, in which hosts Phil Harvey and Paul Kapustka go to the mats to figure out if WrestleMania and the associated WWE operations are the perfect storm for mobile-content creation. We also discuss why WrestleMania and events like it are capable of creating massive demands for in-stadium bandwidth, like the latest big wireless day at WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium. Listen now and let us know what you think!

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