August 2, 2015

Futbol Fans like Wi-Fi: Barcelona vs. ManU match at Levi’s Stadium uses 2.62 TB

ManU and Barca at Levi's Stadium. All photos: Levi's Stadium.

ManU and Barca at Levi’s Stadium. All photos: Levi’s Stadium.

It was futbol, not football, that drew 68,416 fans to Levi’s Stadium July 25 for a match between European powerhouses FC Barcelona and Manchester United, a game that finished in a 3-1 ManU victory and with 2.62 terabytes of Wi-Fi data used, according to the Levi’s Stadium networking crew.

With fans arriving early for the 1 p.m. start the Wi-Fi measurements were taken over 7 hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to Roger Hacker, senior manager, corporate communications for the San Francisco 49ers, who own and operate Levi’s Stadium. During that period there were 25,643 unique users of the stadium’s Wi-Fi network, with the maximum number of concurrent users of 18,322 taking place five minutes after the game’s start.

Action from the pitch!

Action from the pitch!

The Wi-Fi peak usage bandwidth of 2.966 Gbps was reached five minutes later, no doubt as the sellout crowd started sending the pictures and videos they took of the start of the match. The average Wi-Fi bandwidth used during the 7 measured hours of the event was 1.584 Gbps, according to the Niners.

Though the Wi-Fi usage didn’t come close to the stadium record mark of 4.5 TB set at WrestleMania 31 in March, or even the high-water Wi-Fi mark for football set on Sept. 14 at last year’s regular season home opener against the Chicago Bears, it did eclipse some football Wi-Fi totals near the end of last season, showing that soccer fans will find and use Wi-Fi even though their sport has much less non-active time than American football.

One event on the Levi’s Stadium calendar that may dwarf even WrestleMania for Wi-Fi usage is the upcoming Taylor Swift concerts Aug. 14 and 15; it will be interesting to see how Taylor Swift fans use the network, and if they can surpass WWE fans even though it looks like the stadium will have fewer available seats because of the concert stage setup.

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Huge jump in stadium Wi-Fi deployments, according to our latest State of the Stadium Technology Survey

2015_SoS_thumbA clear trend toward greater Wi-Fi and DAS deployments is the main point our “State of the Stadium” research tells us this year, especially with Wi-Fi, where now more than half of the venues surveyed said they have fan-facing Wi-Fi services to all seating areas.

To be precise, a full 65 percent of our respondents said they now have full-seating Wi-Fi services in their venues – a huge increase from the 35 percent number we saw in last year’s survey. Full-stadium DAS deployments increased as well, with 80 percent of respondents claiming stadium-wide DAS deployments this year, up from 71 percent in the 2014 survey.

Input for the survey came from more than 100 respondents representing arenas that host the top U.S. professional league teams, including the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL, as well as top U.S. university facilities for basketball and football, European and U.S. professional soccer teams, professional golf and car-racing venues. The data provide a clear snapshot of how teams are deploying technology to both improve the fan experience while helping increase business opportunities.

And thanks to a sponsorship from Mobilitie, the entire report can be downloaded for free from our website.

Why more Wi-Fi?

Why the sudden shift to more Wi-Fi deployments? Most likely it was the maturation of plans that had been in the works for several years, speeded up no doubt by the ever increasing demands for mobile data connectivity. Even facilities that have had Wi-Fi services for years noticed that over the past year data usage has climbed even as the number of connected users plateaued; what that tells us is that the trend of devices and apps to stay well ahead of the networks’ ability to keep up still has legs, and will likely keep climbing for the near future.

For more analysis and a breakdown for each category, download the report now to get the only independent, numbers-based research available for the stadium technology marketplace.

PGA Tour’s live-action online service for Thursday-Friday rounds debuts this week at $4.99 per month

Screen shot of PGA TOUR LIVE service on iPhone. Photo: PGA Tour

Screen shot of PGA TOUR LIVE service on iPhone. Photo: PGA Tour

The PGA’s over-the-top live action service for Thursday and Friday rounds debuts this week during the Quicken Loans National event, with a seven-day free trial before the $4.99 per month charge applies.

Announced earlier this year, the service produced by Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media (MLBAM) operations will be initially available for any desktop devices at PGATOURLIVE.com, but only for Apple iPhones and iPads on the mobile front. According to the PGA Tour the service will be available through Android and other platforms “at a later date.”

Here’s the official skinny on who you’ll be able to watch live (yes of course tournament “host” Tiger Woods will be part of the coverage) as part of the service’s “marquee group” format, which basically follows selected groups of players over their entire round. For those who can’t get enough golf it will be an interesting “second screen” to the Golf Channel cable coverage of Thursday and Friday rounds.

PGA TOUR LIVE debuts Thursday at 7:30 a.m. ET and will provide exclusive shot-by-shot coverage of the following groups on Thursday: 8:10 a.m., THE PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler paired with Ben Crane and James Hahn; 8:21 a.m., former Quicken Loans National champion and The Presidents Cup 2015 International Team vice-captain K.J. Choi from host country South Korea with International Team hopefuls Danny Lee of New Zealand and John Senden of Australia.

Friday’s 8:10 a.m. feature group includes three former Quicken Loans National champions: tournament host Tiger Woods, Bill Haas and Nick Watney. At 8:21 a.m., defending Quicken Loans National champion Justin Rose tees off with Jimmy Walker, No. 3 in the FedExCup points standings with two wins this season, and David Lingmerth of Sweden, who won his first PGA TOUR title last month at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.

Following the conclusion of the featured groups on Thursday and Friday, PGA TOUR LIVE will shift its live broadcast coverage to the Featured Holes at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club – a pair of par-3s, the 11th and 16th. Overall, PGA TOUR LIVE will deliver access to more than 11 hours of live coverage to fans each day.

For the remainder of the season, PGA TOUR LIVE will be available during the following tournaments: next week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational (Aug. 6-7), the Wyndham Championship (Aug. 20-21), and then the FedExCup Playoff events: The Barclays (Aug. 27-28), Deutsche Bank Championship (Sept. 4-5, which actually is Friday-Saturday with a Monday finish), BMW Championship (Sept. 17-18) and the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola (Sept. 24-25). According to the PGA, the $4.99 charge is good for 30 days whenever it is purchased, so time your buy accordingly.

Digital Bridge acquires ExteNet Systems in $1B recapitalization deal

Telecom investment group Digital Bridge Holdings has acquired DAS deployer ExteNet Systems in a recapitalization deal valued at around $1 billion, a move that buys out all previous investors and makes ExteNet a part of Digital Bridge’s pool of telecom-infrastructure companies.

A good writeup of the deal can be found over at RCR Wireless but from a stadium-infrastructure standpoint there doesn’t appear to be any change in ExteNet’s existing strategy path, since CEO Ross Manire will be staying to lead the company. ExteNet, which installs neutral host DAS deployments in stadiums and also provides DAS infrastructure deployments for cities, has installed networks at ballparks like the Miami Marlins’ Marlins Park.

We’re hoping to speak with ExteNet folks sometime soon to try to find out how much of the $1 billion went toward buying out previous investors, and how much will remain on hand to help run the business. Stay tuned on yet another big-bucks consolidation event in the stadium tech marketplace.

Wi-Fi deal at Houston’s NRG Stadium looks like it’s going to 5 Bars… is Ruckus involved as well?

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 11.43.48 PMWe knew the Houston Texans were getting Wi-Fi put in at NRG Stadium this year, but until we saw this report on HoustonChronicle.com by reporter David Barron we didn’t know that integrator 5 Bars will be leading the deployment, with stadium management firm SMG chipping in for some of the projected $2.9 million cost, according to the story.

The report from Houston, which apparently got its information from a meeting of the directors of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp., says that the deal for 5 Bars still has to be ratified in August, so we may not be at the end of this story yet. Industry sources recently interviewed by Mobile Sports Report have tabbed Ruckus Wireless as the main Wi-Fi gear supplier for the 71,500-seat NRG Stadium deployment, which makes sense since Ruckus and 5 Bars worked together for the recent Wi-Fi deployment at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. Neither Ruckus nor 5 Bars would confirm any details, however (like the cost — does $2.9 million for Wi-Fi sound low to anyone?), so the Ruckus part of the story remains a rumor until we hear more.

We’ll try to round up more details on this story after we recover from a whirlwind couple days at the recent SEAT 2015 conference in San Francisco — according to another Houston Chronicle report, Verizon has installed a new DAS at the stadium, which will be the host venue for Super Bowl LI in February of 2017.

Ruckus Wireless looks like the ‘Golden 1′ for Wi-Fi at Sacramento Kings’ new stadium

Golden 1 Center in Sacramento taking shape. All photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

Golden 1 Center in Sacramento taking shape. All photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

According to several sources from around the stadium technology marketplace, it appears as though Ruckus Wireless has won a big stadium Wi-Fi deal, as the provider of gear for the Sacramento Kings’ new Golden 1 Center that is scheduled to open in October 2016.

There is no official announcement and representatives from the Kings and Ruckus would not comment on the matter, so at this stage it’s still a rumor. But since we heard this (pending) news from several different sources — all of whom we trust — it’s a good bet that you will see Ruckus gear at least inside the Golden 1 Center arena, and perhaps in the planned accompanying downtown-area construction, which is supposed to include new office and retail space, as well as apartments and a hotel. In case you’ve never heard of Golden 1, it is California’s largest credit union and is paying a reported $120 million over 20 years for the naming rights to the arena.

We’re no construction experts here but judging from a stroll we took around the Golden 1 Center construction site last week it’s probably a good bet that not all of the planned buildings will be finished by the time the arena opens, if it opens on time as planned for the start of the 2016-17 NBA season. Though buildings clearly scheduled for demolition surrounding the obvious planned construction site are still standing in many places, the arena itself is starting to take shape, with the metal skeleton of the outer walls already in place.

The new arena construction is butting up against existing structures on one corner.

The new arena construction is butting up against existing structures on one corner.


Big focus on technology

Though Ruckus has won deals before in the sports stadium space (and famously lost them too) the deal in Sacramento, if our sources are correct, would be a big one for Ruckus given the high visibility of the new Kings’ stadium and the advance billing the Kings’ owner, Vivek Ranadive, is giving the arena’s planned technology deployments. At a recent sports ticketing conference, Kings president and COO Chris Granger talked about plans to bring bandwidth of a gigabit per second to each seat — which if we are to measure it correctly we may need a new version of Speedtest. (Gigabit? We’re gonna need a bigger boat!)

Gigabit promises aside, the Kings have made no secret of their desire for Golden 1 Center to be a technological masterpiece, with plans for all-digital ticketing just the start of the hoped-for new fan experience. Much of that will be riding on the Wi-Fi network, so if Ruckus is indeed the gear supplier it will have its work cut out for it just to meet the announced goals.

Construction work is everywhere surrounding the Golden 1 Center site.

Construction work is everywhere surrounding the Golden 1 Center site.

Light rail is just a block away, good news for fans who don't want to drive to games.

Light rail is just a block away, good news for fans who don’t want to drive to games.

Artist rendering of the Golden 1 Center

Artist rendering of the Golden 1 Center