August 30, 2014

Holy Terabyte! First football crowd at Levi’s Stadium uses 2.13 TB of Wi-Fi traffic, with nearly 25K fans on Wi-Fi at once

Levi's Stadium from Section 244. All photos: Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report

Levi’s Stadium from Section 244. All photos: Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report

All those predictions about Silicon Valley people using a stadium network more than other fans? It looks like they’re true.

The network numbers are in for the first football game at Levi’s Stadium, and they are pretty amazing: According to Dan Williams, the vice president of technology for the San Francisco 49ers, the Levi’s Stadium Wi-Fi network carried 2.13 terabytes of data during last Sunday’s preseason game, with a peak of 24,775 fans on the Wi-Fi network at the same time. Those numbers are comparable to the latest Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, where according to AT&T and Verizon there was approximately 2.5 TB of data used on wireless networks.

The kicker to the Niners’ stats — they do NOT include any traffic figures from the Levi’s Stadium DAS, the distributed antenna system that is meant to provide enhanced cellular coverage in the stadium. What follows is an email Q-and-A with Williams, who kindly answered our extensive list of questions. The real question is, if Niners fans are hitting terabyte levels during preseason games, what’s going to happen when the season starts for real? And the instant replay function in the team app is live? Read on for some great insight from Williams. Additional editor’s note: The companies talked about include Aruba Networks, the provider of Wi-Fi gear; Brocade, provider of back-end networking gear and integration; DAS Group Professionals, the integrator and deployment team behind the DAS (the network of small antennas that improve in-building cellular coverage).

Mobile Sports Report: what was the peak number for simultaneous Wi-Fi connections? The average?
Dan Williams: We peaked at 24,775 (roughly 38% of attendance) concurrent connections with an average of 16,862 (roughly 25% of attendance).

MSR: When did connections spike? When did they start and then tail off?
Williams: We had two spikes, 1:02 p.m. [editor's note: kickoff was 1 p.m.] with a system wide peak of 2.3Gbps and then again at 1:53 p.m. with 1.7Gbps. We averaged more than 1Gbps for more than two hours.

Niners VP of technology Dan Williams attempts to fix my Droid 4 Wi-Fi issues (while trying not to laugh at the fact that I actually have and use a Droid 4)

Niners VP of technology Dan Williams attempts to fix my Droid 4 Wi-Fi issues (while trying not to laugh at the fact that I actually have and use a Droid 4)

MSR: What was the total data tonnage on the Wi-Fi network?
Williams: We offloaded 2.13 Terabytes during the event.

MSR: What were the usage patterns with the app — which feature did people use most?
Williams: We had a great deal of usage throughout Sunday. The food ordering app usage was top of the list with ticketing being a close second while video would take third from a feature standpoint.

MSR: What are the plans with the instant replay feature… when will it be live (and can you explain why it was held back)?
Williams: We felt a lot of folks were happy with the livestream, so we wanted to focus more on a couple of core features with food ordering and ticketing a bit more at this point. Replays will be available to all by the first regular season home game.

MSR: Can you explain exactly how the location feature works… does it require Bluetooth to be on?
Williams: The location service is mainly built around low-energy Bluetooth, BLE. We have a number of beacons placed throughout the open areas and points-of-interest which allow the app to identify your location through proximity. Aruba helped us build this as well. GPS is also used but the primary resource is Bluetooth. The app prompts users to enable Bluetooth to provide improved location awareness.

One of the big screens in Levi's Stadium.

One of the big screens in Levi’s Stadium.

MSR: Can you provide any stats on the DAS performance?
Williams: The DAS held up really well. Like WiFi, we found some areas that need tuning. Unlike WiFi, the carriers protect a lot of their specific data but they have told us they are very happy with the system DGP helped us with. It is important to note our DAS and WiFi have been built to compliment each other and I think between Aruba and DGP, we did that very well. Most come here looking to connect to WiFi but our story internally has been we are going to have an awesome connectivity play regardless of medium.

MSR: Could you guys see any [more] of the 2.4 GHz issues like the one I had?
Williams: As you know, 2.4GHz is limited with non-overlapping channels so we suspect a number of legacy devices may have some problems. That said, we had a ratio of 2:1 with respects to 5GHz to 2.4GHz [usage] which shows a good deal of 2.4GHz usage. We know we still have some optimizations to do in the upper bowl and upper concourse while we continue to fine-tune the main bowl and concourse as we noticed our cell edge was weaker than expected when the stands were full. Our Aruba team did a great job capturing real-time data during the event as there is really no other way to test this stuff without a full venue. We will make some tweaks and continue to learn more from every event we host. Between Aruba, Brocade, and the 49er tech staff, we are not resting on our laurels. We know there is more to do.

Dallas Cowboys, AT&T add more tech to AT&T Stadium, add fuel to ‘most-connected stadium’ debate

AT&T Stadium, North Texas, USA

AT&T Stadium, North Texas, USA

During last Sunday’s first “real” football game at Levi’s Stadium, I was asked several times if I thought the San Francisco 49ers’ new home was the “most connected” venue ever. I hesitated and hedged my answer a bit, because when it comes to wireless networks and tech innovations I think AT&T Stadium — home of the Dallas Cowboys — needs to be mentioned in the same sentence as Levi’s.

This week AT&T and the Cowboys announced more enhancements to AT&T Stadium’s already powerful network, and a new toy for fans to interact with. First on the network side, AT&T said from last summer until now it has increased the capacity of the stadium’s DAS by 50 percent, with 1,300 DAS antennas now in place. On the Wi-Fi side the stadium now has more than 1,500 access points, which may be the most in any stadium anywhere, to the best of my knowledge. (According to the Niners’ press guide, Levi’s has 1,200 Wi-Fi APs.) Throw in the big TV hanging from the center of the roof and AT&T Stadium has to be part of any discussion about “the most connected stadium” in football, if not in all of sport.

AT&T Stadium's new "Fan Experience Board" in louvering position. Credit all photos: AT&T/Dallas Cowboys.

AT&T Stadium’s new “Fan Experience Board” in louvering position. Credit all photos: AT&T/Dallas Cowboys.

(I’d also include AT&T Park in San Francisco in that argument, which has somewhere north of 1,200 Wi-Fi APs in a much smaller venue; from what we hear the two AT&T-sponsored stadiums have a friendly competition when it comes to tech deployments.)

On the new-toy side it should be fun to see the new 130-foot “AT&T Fan Experience Board” in action — according to AT&T and the Cowboys this contraption is built of 40 mirrored louvers which can rotate in sync, and can show ads, fan pictures and will also be part of what the team and AT&T are calling the “Unite this house” feature on a new fan app. We’ll let the Cowboys blog explain how this will work, on plays where Tony Romo is throwing to teammates instead of to opponents:

The “Unite the House” fan interaction feature on the app will alert fans at pivotal moments of the game through their mobile devices. As the stadium app vibrates, a message will be displayed providing the particular context and immediacy of the action. Fans will be guided to unlock their phones, hold their fingers on the Dallas Cowboys star and as more phones power up, the stadium will be full of strobes, not only from mobile devices, but also on the ribbon displays and the HD video board. The visual will gain intensity and speed as more fans join in, energizing the stadium and culminating in a final eruption of light and motion provided by the louvers that will canvas the entire stadium.

AT&T Stadium interactive screens

AT&T Stadium interactive screens

AT&T and the Cowboys also announced some large interactive screens — the Cowboys blog called them “life-sized iPhones” — where fans can swipe to learn more about Cowboys players, or Cowboys cheerleaders. Our guess is that both will be immensely popular. At Levi’s, there are some interactive displays and features — one, sponsored by Yahoo!, asks fans to answer trivia questions. While it’s neat to see these things emerge, I wonder if instead of fluffy features some interactive boards could be converted into things that could help you — like with stadium maps, or an app that would let a phone-less fan send a message to someone else’s device. Our guess is that you will see more, not less, of these interactive screens in the near future.

If nothing else, the Cowboys and AT&T seem to be showing that even off the field, the NFL is a competitive league — we will be interested to see how the technology deployments at other stadiums, like Jacksonville, play out. Look for more coverage and anlysis in our upcoming Q3 Stadium Tech Report issue, which will focus on… football. AT&T technology photos to follow.

AT&T Fan Experience board with single message

AT&T Fan Experience board with single message

Message board showing photo compilation

Message board showing photo compilation

Stadium Tech Report: MLB stadium technology reports — NL West

Editor’s note: The following team-by-team capsule reports of MLB stadium technology deployments are an excerpt from our most recent Stadium Tech Report for Q2 2014, which focuses on Major League Baseball. To get all the capsules in one place as well as our featured reports, interviews and analysis, download your free copy of the full report today.

NL WEST

Reporting by Chris Gallo

attparksign1San Francisco Giants
AT&T Park
Seating Capacity: 41,503
Wi-Fi: Yes, 1,289 access points
DAS: Yes, 196 antennas
Beaconing: Yes

The San Francisco Giants continue to be a pioneer in stadium connectivity. The club calls AT&T Park home, where it features over 1,289 Wi-Fi access points throughout the stadium. The park seats more than 41,000 fans, which means there is one Wi-Fi access point for every 32 fans when at full capacity.

AT&T has also installed 196 DAS antennas as part of its wireless network. Combined with Apple’s iBeacon technology, fans can easily order concessions or upgrade tickets with the MLB At the Ballpark app. When it comes to stadium connectivity, the San Francisco Giants set the standard.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodger Stadium
Seating Capacity: 56,000
Wi-Fi: Yes, 1,000+ access points
DAS:Yes
Beaconing: Yes

For the second consecutive year, Los Angeles Dodgers president Stan Kasten promised fans Wi-Fi would be installed by opening day. And the second time proved to be a charm. Dodger Stadium now includes more than 1,000 access points transforming the half-century old ballpark into one of the baseball’s most well-connected parks.

The 52-year-old stadium underwent a $100 million renovation a year ago, including improved connectivity and a cellular distributed antenna system. Fans can even take advantage of the MLB At the Ballpark app using their smartphone to pre-pay for parking and tickets to get into the game with iBeacons installed in Dodger Stadium.

San Diego Padres
Petco Park
Seating Capacity: 42,455
Wi-Fi: Yes, 423 access points
DAS: Yes, 460 antennas
Beaconing: Yes

After a significant upgrade in 2012, Petco Park features more than 400 Wi-Fi access points and more than 400 DAS antennas throughout the stadium. The San Diego Padres were also one of the first teams to install iBeacon technology.

The club is rolling out the technology slowly and experimenting with the MLB At the Ballpark app. When strolling through Petco Park, Padres fans can receive the day’s lineup card and real-time coupons for the team store. Backed by Qualcomm, the Padres are bringing a consistent connected experi- ence to its fans.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Chase Field
Seating Capacity: 49,003
Wi-F: Yes, 278 access points
DAS: Yes, 460 antennas
Beaconing: Yes

One of the more versatile stadiums in baseball, Chase Field turns 16 this season. Since 2011, the Diamondbacks have partnered with AT&T to make it easier to fans to enjoy the ballpark and game.

This season fans are encouraged to be part of the Ultimate Dbacks Digital Experience. This includes logging on to one over 200 different AT&T hot spots to order concessions with MLB At the Ballpark and watch instant replays of Mark Trumbo’s home runs using MLB At Bat.

Colorado Rockies
Coors Field
Seating Capacity: 50,455
Wi-Fi: Yes, 600 antennas (by July 15)
DAS: Yes for AT&T; Undergoing renovation and will have VZW and T-Mobile soon. Beaconing: Yes – Install will be complete by June 30.
The lone team in the NL West without Wi-Fi over the past few seasons, the Colorado Rockies are going to change that in 2014. The club plans to install more than 600 Wi-Fi access points by July 15. But that’s not the only upgrade to the 19-year old park.
The Rockies removed 3,500 seats in an $11 million dollar project to build the Rooftop Party Deck. This 38,000 square-foot area is open to all fans to socialize, grab a bite to eat, and watch the game. The best news is Rockies fans should be able to stay connected with iBeacon installs and improved DAS antennas also planned for deployment by this summer.

To get all the capsules in one place as well as our featured reports, interviews and analysis, download your free copy of the full report today.

Stadium Tech Report: MLB stadium technology reports — NL East

Editor’s note: The following team-by-team capsule reports of MLB stadium technology deployments are an excerpt from our most recent Stadium Tech Report for Q2 2014, which focuses on Major League Baseball. To get all the capsules in one place as well as our featured reports, interviews and analysis, download your free copy of the full report today.

NL EAST

Reporting by Chris Gallo

Atlanta Braves
Turner Field
Seating Capacity: 50,096
Wi-Fi: Yes
DAS:Yes
Beaconing: Yes

The Atlanta Braves recently announced plans to build a new stadium in Cobb County, but the defending NL East champions are still improving Turner Field. In its 17th season, the TED is now outfitted with iBeacons throughout the ballpark.

Braves fans are encouraged to download the MLB At the Ballpark app to use their smartphones to get into the game, upgrade tickets, and pay for concessions. Fans do not need to be worried about data connectivity with multiple Wi-Fi access points, DAS antennas, and mobile charging stations.

Washington Nationals
Nationals Park
Seating Capacity: 41,888
Wi-Fi: Yes
DAS:Yes
Beaconing: No

On the heels of several Wi-Fi upgrades from a year a go, Comcast continues to expand connec- tivity throughout Nationals Park in 2014. But there are no specifics about connectivity just yet.

The ballpark is still young (in its sixth season) and the club is exploring where to make improvements. A proposed plan for a retractable roof that would cost an estimated $300 million was denied in 2013.

Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park
Seating Capacity: 43,651
Wi-Fi: Yes
DAS:Yes
Beaconing: Yes

Just up the road in Philadelphia, Comcast is taking care of its home park. The cable company installed hundreds of Xfinity hotspots inside Citizens Bank Park in 2013. This year the experience is even better with iBeacons throughout the ballpark.

Phillies fans can order a cheesesteak or upgrade tickets as they walk down Ashburn Alley with the MLB At the Ballpark app. And the Budweiser Rooftop, Harry The K’s, and Games of Baseball all include strong Wi-Fi for you to tweet while fans there watch the next Cliff Lee strikeout.

New York Mets
Citi Field
Seating Capacity: 45,000
Wi-Fi: Yes, ~ 500 access points
DAS:Yes
Beaconing: Yes

Built in 2009, Citi Field was one of the first big league stadiums to be outfitted with Apple iBeacons. Installed last September, Mets fans can use beacons to download the MLB At the Ballpark app to use their smartphones as a ticket to get into the game and receive a coupon for a hot dog.

The experience is even more useful now that Citi Field has more than 500 Wi-Fi access points and multiple DAS antennas distributed throughout the stadium. Now when the home run apple lights up, fans can take photos and share instantly across social networks.

Miami Marlins
Marlins Park
Seating Capacity: 37,000
Wi-Fi: Yes, 254 access points
DAS: Yes, 246 antennas
Beaconing: Yes

Marlins Park is the newest stadium in all of Major League Baseball and welcomes fans with increased connectivity in 2014. There are 254 Wi-Fi access points courtesy of Meru Networks and 246 DAS antennas put in by neutral host provider ExteNet Sysyems than host the five major cellular carriers to accommodate Marlins fans.

This season the Marlins worked with Major League Baseball to install iBeacons at every gate and entrance to Marlins Park. The MLB At the Ballpark app allows fans to pay for parking and use their phone for tickets to get to and from the game with ease.

To get all the capsules in one place as well as our featured reports, interviews and analysis, download your free copy of the full report today.

Extreme, YinzCam team up for Baylor Wi-Fi and app deployment

Screen shot of proposed Baylor app

Screen shot of proposed Baylor app

When the new $260 million McLane Stadium at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, opens for this season it will have full-facility Wi-Fi and a custom mobile app, designed and deployed by a partnership between Wi-Fi gear and analytics provider Extreme Networks and app developer YinzCam.

In an announcement today, Extreme and YinzCam said fans in McLane Stadium will have access to real-time replays via the team’s new app, a functionality made possible by high-quality Wi-Fi. The network and app are expected to be live for the Baylor Bears’ first home game of the season, an Aug. 31 date with SMU. The stadium will also have a distributed antenna system (DAS) hosted by AT&T; according to Baylor, Verizon Wireless has already agreed to participate in the AT&T-hosted DAS.

While we are working on setting up an interview with the Baylor folks to hear more about their new stadium in general and their network in particular, here are some of the prepared quotes from the participants:

Pattie Orr, Vice President for Information Technology, Baylor University:

“2014 is a monumental season for Baylor University and Baylor Athletics as we officially open McLane Stadium and deliver our fans the ultimate fan experience. Using a hand-picked collection of innovative technology, Baylor fans will stay connected with the ultra-fast Wi-Fi network as well as a robust cellular distributed antenna system. Fans can direct their own mobile experience using our new Baylor In-Game application throughout the stadium.”

Norman Rice, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Extreme Networks:

“Baylor University is one of the pre-eminent academic and athletic institutions in the country and has put together one of the most exciting experiences in sports with the debut of McLane Stadium. Extreme Networks is proud to let our wireless technology extend the connectivity that fans and media consider a ‘must have’ whenever they attend a game.”

Priya Narasimhan, CEO and Founder, YinzCam:

“This is a major first in college sports. The Baylor In-Game App is pushing the envelope by being the first college athletics app to provide instant replays from multiple views to Baylor fans, right at their seats, at the new McLane Stadium.”

Stadium Tech Report: Levi’s Stadium network lives up to hype, but team app still needs work

Levi's Stadium from Section 244. All photos: Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report

Levi’s Stadium from Section 244. All photos: Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report

At the very least San Francisco 49ers fans Sunday could take heart in the fact that the wireless network in Levi’s Stadium largely lived up to its advance billing, performing quite well even as the team on the field sputtered and failed to connect. In its first “real” test with an almost-full house on Sunday the Levi’s Wi-Fi and cellular networks seemed to work well throughout the game, delivering solid speed test results from almost every part of the new 68,500-seat facility, even as Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the 49ers were dealt a 34-0 preseason drubbing by Peyton Manning and the visiting Denver Broncos.

And just like the team, the Niners’ stadium technology lineup still has some weak spots that will hopefully be fixed before the regular season home opener on Sept. 14. Among the disappointments Sunday was a no-show by the highly heralded instant replay feature, the crown jewel of the new Levi’s Stadium app. We also experienced some location-connection problems with one of our devices, exposing what we consider a flaw in the Levi’s app, namely an over-reliance on location technologies to enable key parts of the app, like wayfinding and on-site video streaming.

Ticket scanner with Niners visor to block sun

Ticket scanner with Niners visor to block sun

Some other not-so-advanced technology flaws that could use fine-tuning include the volume level on the main stadium public-address and announcing system, which was so loud that it made it a struggle just to talk to the person next to you for long stretches of time. The ticket scanning machines also seemed to have issues working in the bright sunlight, a problem that found a low-tech fix when ticket personnel placed Niners’ visors around the tops of the machines to shade the scanning area. And many concession stands around the stadium were unable to serve guests or could only take cash because the staff operating the stands said they weren’t given access codes to the point-of-sale systems.

Overall, however, the first football game at Levi’s was a success on many levels, including the fantastic sight lines available from most seats and largely incident-free travel and parking operations, with noticed improvements especially on the VTA light rail front that struggled mightily during the stadium’s opening-event soccer game two weekends ago. Most fans also probably got a little weight loss from the no extra-charge sauna situation, thanks to the cloudless day and bright sun that bathed most of the seats in searing heat for long times after the 1 p.m. start.

Smooth start for early VTA riders

What follows here is a somewhat minute-by-minute account of my trip to the game, and my experience with the network and stadium operations on site.

Mtn View lot sign, not in operation at 9:30 a.m.

Mtn View lot sign, not in operation at 9:30 a.m.

Since I wasn’t given press access to the game, Mobile Sports Report attended like a regular fan, purchasing a single ticket through the NFL Ticket Exchange service on the 49ers’ web site. My plan to get to Levi’s from San Mateo was to drive to downtown Mountain View, park there and take VTA the rest of the way. (I didn’t take CalTrain mainly because I didn’t want to have to sync my return schedule with the CalTrain options going northbound on Sunday.)

Though I was somewhat incredulous about having to buy tickets online — VTA said that the ticket machines in Mountain View would be shut down Sunday to keep big lines from forming — upon further review the VTA app was slick and easy to operate and understand. After purchasing a ticket for $6.50 Saturday night I activated it Sunday, and showed it at the gate where they checked boarding passes. For people who didn’t have tickets there was a tent set up where they could buy a pre-loaded Clipper card for $10 good for a day’s worth of VTA riding. There was an abundance of VTA workers on hand, as well as a large and very obvious police presence. As a nice touch there was also a large bank of porta-potties, and behind the trains there were express buses waiting, according to one VTA employee, in case of crowd overloads.

“We learned some lessons from two weeks ago,” he said.

If there was a glitch in the VTA operations it was with the city of Mountain View — though a couple city lots were designated as places where fans could buy all-day parking passes, and there were clear signs to those lots, at 9:30 a.m. those lots were not yet staffed with anyone to pay; MSR found one sign leaning up against a post, waiting to be deployed. Fans could also park in the CalTrain lot for $5, payable via the CalTrain track podium ticket machines.

Fans transferring from CalTrain to VTA at Mtn View station

Fans transferring from CalTrain to VTA at Mtn View station

I boarded the first VTA train to leave for the stadium, along with many fans who had just gotten off CalTrain. The pleasant, air-conditioned trip took just 27 minutes, passing many Silicon Valley company headquarters and one neighborhood with “no parking here” patrols before stopping pretty much right at the Levi’s Stadium entrance. A few steps later I was in the parking lot, and took the first of many Wi-Fi speed tests and got a signal of 29 Mbps download and 23 Mbps upload, a good sign for network operations.

Looking for Wi-Fi, finding lots of it

DAS antenna in "Faithful Mile" area

DAS antenna in “Faithful Mile” area

Once inside the gates — and past the shaded scanners — I started speed testing in earnest, with the two devices I brought with me: A Motorola Droid 4 on Verizon, and a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on AT&T. While waiting for the main stadium gates to open at 11 a.m. I got the weakest Wi-Fi signals of the day along the “Faithful Mile” area where promotional booths from sponsors kept early arrivers entertained. Wi-Fi on both devices out there only hit 2 to 3 Mbps on the download, while cell signals on both devices were in the 6-7 Mbps download range. Since I could see multiple DAS radios in the area but not any Wi-Fi access points I wasn’t too surprised; but it was an unusual area not to be blanketed with Wi-Fi, especially since there was good access a couple hundred yards away in the parking lots.

After finally entering the stadium proper, I ran into Niners president Paraag Marathe — who said he was “nervously excited,” and looked ready to start sweating in his suit and tie. “We’ve just got to make sure everything works today,” Marathe said, shaking my hand. Then I went up the escalator and saw the “Kezar pub,” an open-air bar filling the top area above the Intel gate. There, draft beers like Shock Top and Goose Island IPA were available for $11, and bottled beers available for $10.25.

As I started walking around the outside concourse I took my first speed test in the stadium and it blew the needle off the edge: 57.92 Mbps download, 41.00 Mbps upload.

A few minutes later on the inside concourse (where most of the concession stands are) I hit 27.85 Mbps/21.34 Mbps, still impressive. Then I tried to launch the app, and — problem. Apparently the device wasn’t connecting because it wouldn’t show my location on the wayfinding app. Luckily, right in front of me was Racquel, one of the “NiNerds,” the team’s new staff of technical experts who are there to help fans make the app work. But Racquel couldn’t solve my problem, even after we both tried turning on all location services, including Bluetooth.

Racquel the NiNerd

Racquel the NiNerd

“I can try to find another NiNerd who might know more about this device,” offered Racquel, who was visibly dismayed at her failure to help solve my problem. Instead, I moved on, hoping that the problem would solve itself later. But it didn’t.

Failure to locate… and other app problems

After downloading the Levi’s app to both devices over the weekend, I noticed that the first item on the app list of functions — Tickets — required me to “sign in” with my “Stadium Ticket Account,” something I didn’t have and didn’t know how to get. I did figure out how to enter my purchased seat location (which I could have used to order food to my seat, or for the express pick-up option), but I could never get the location feature to work on the Samsung device, which kept me from being able to see the live streaming TV option (I kept getting a message that said, “You must be at the stadium to play this video”). I was able to watch the live TV option on the Motorola device, after turing on location services. But for both devices — and, as it turns out, for everyone in the stadium — the final feature on the app, Game Center, where we were supposed to be able to see all the instant replays we could handle, remained labeled “coming soon.”

Finally sitting in my most excellent seat — section 244, row 3, seat 17 — I noticed that the Motorola device could no longer connect to Wi-Fi, even as the Samsung device was hitting marks in the 15-16 Mbps range. I started tweeting about the problem, and instead of a NiNerd coming to help me I got a personal visit from the Levi’s version of a Jedi Master, namely Dan Williams, the team’s vice president of technology. (Never underestimate the power of a complaining tweet!)

Niners VP of technology Dan Williams attempts to fix my Droid 4 Wi-Fi issues (while trying not to laugh at the fact that I actually have and use a Droid 4)

Niners VP of technology Dan Williams attempts to fix my Droid 4 Wi-Fi issues (while trying not to laugh at the fact that I actually have and use a Droid 4)

On my own, I had guessed that the Droid’s inability to connect came from its having only a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi radio. If you’re not familiar with Wi-Fi networks, the 2.4 GHz band of unlicensed airwaves is what most first-generation Wi-Fi networks used; more recent devices are able to also use the 5 GHz band of unlicensed airwaves, which simply offer more channels and more bandwidth. The iPhone 5s, for example, mainly uses 5 GHz for Wi-Fi, as does my Samsung Note.

In scanning the available Wi-Fi networks, I had also noticed something else that I thought could be gumming up the Droid’s connection — a bunch of personal Wi-Fi hotspots in the immediate area, including several labeled as GoPro cameras. After curiously examining my Droid 4 — and its slide-out keyboard — Williams and a technician from Wi-Fi gear provider Aruba Networks concurred that my device was getting bogged down in the 2.4 GHz mess, and also wasn’t refreshing the available networks list, a device-specific problem.

Bottom line? Levi’s is no country for old phones.

Initial verdict: Wi-Fi and cellular is world class… but app needs work

After staying into the third quarter — and visiting another friend in section 109, where I got another hefty Wi-Fi speed test (24.42/25.39 Mbps) — I followed the lead of many fans and took an early leave of Levi’s, which meant no lines at the VTA trains and just a couple short delays due to track congestion that stretched the return train trip to 40 minutes. Overall, my travel to and from the stadium from San Mateo took just over an hour each way, a happy stat to report.

My initial verdict is that the Wi-Fi and DAS (cellular) networks delivered as promised, with solid speeds all around the stadium every time I checked. It’s no small accomplishment just to deliver such world-class service to such a crowded space, especially in the middle of Silicon Valley. True to its roots, the crowd Sunday was device-happy, with many iPads and GoPros being carried around as video cameras, in addition to all the phones that were in constant use. It’s a tribute to Williams and his staff, as well as the technology suppliers like Aruba, Brocade, Comcast (backbone bandwidth supplier) and DAS Group Professionals, who built the distributed antenna system (DAS) which brings advanced cellular connectivity inside the gates, to have built a solid network that worked well on its first big test.

The team app, however, did not even come close to living up to its advanced billing. To equal the network I think the app needs more advance instructions, especially on the ticketing/registration options as well as on the location services needed to make everything work. And until we see the multiple-camera angle live replays in action, to me the app is an incomplete project. The good news is, the Niners and their technology teams have several weeks to make improvements, including another preseason game Aug. 24 against the San Diego Chargers.

It’d also be helpful for the team to reach out a bit more to the VTA and players like the City of Mountain View, since the VTA site maps and Mountain View’s parking maps are far from what you would call “advanced design.” I think it’s up to the Niners to help pay for improvements to the city and transportation entities’ technology offerings, simply because of the burden placed on those operators by the fans going to Niners’ games. At the very least, more links from football to getting-there operations seems in order, instead of trusting that all parts of the operation will work in sync.

VTA lines going home

VTA lines going home