December 1, 2015

NFL Stadium Tech Reviews — AFC West

Editor’s note: The following team-by-team capsule reports of NFL stadium technology deployments are an excerpt from our most recent Stadium Tech Report, THE PRO FOOTBALL ISSUE. 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.


Reporting by Paul Kapustka

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Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium
Seating Capacity: 76,416
Wi-Fi – Yes

On a quest to challenge the HD experience at home, Chiefs president Mark Donovan delivered Wi-Fi and a mobile app to Arrowhead Stadium in 2013. Kansas City continues to enhance its mobile experience for fans, and now has in-stadium NFL RedZone access, live video feeds during games, as well as video highlights and replays from every drive. New for 2015, the Chiefs added a “Chiefs Kingdom” rewards program that works via the app.

Denver Broncos
Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Seating Capacity: 76,125
Wi-Fi – Yes
DAS – Yes

Connectivity is still kind of a mixed bag in Broncosland, with Wi-Fi in the stadium but still only available for Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint all have separate DAS deployments, so most fans should be covered in one form or another.

Oakland Raiders
O.Co Coliseum
Seating Capacity: 56,057
Wi-Fi – No
DAS – Yes

With the team’s stay in Oakland still a matter of doubt, fans will have to cheer their team on without Wi-Fi for another year at O.Co Coliseum. Despite being available for A’s fans, when the stadium capacity increases by almost 20,000 people for football, Raiders faithful are left without any access, without any official explanation.

San Diego Chargers
Qualcomm Stadium
Seating Capacity: 70,561
Wi-Fi – No
DAS – Yes

The stadium that’s named after the wireless giant remains a mystery. Because Wi-Fi in Qualcomm Stadium, a facility whose sponsor’s fortunes come mainly from the sale of wireless-phone silicon, is still absent.

The stadium that hosted the Super Bowl over a decade ago does have DAS antennas courtesy of AT&T for improved cell coverage. Perhaps given the Chargers’ public statements about moving to a new stadium or Los Angeles means that they aren’t going to make a Wi-Fi investment at Qualcomm right now.

NFL Stadium Tech Reviews — AFC South

Editor’s note: The following team-by-team capsule reports of NFL stadium technology deployments are an excerpt from our most recent Stadium Tech Report, THE PRO FOOTBALL ISSUE. 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.


Reporting by Paul Kapustka

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Houston Texans
NRG Stadium
Seating Capacity: 71,054
Wi-Fi – No
DAS – Yes

With Super Bowl LI approaching in 2017, NRG Stadium is rumored to be (finally) getting Wi-Fi, with reports that the deployment will be led by 5 Bars and use gear from Ruckus Wireless; however none of this has yet been formally approved, so for now it’s another fall with no Wi-Fi at NRG.

Indianapolis Colts
Lucas Oil Stadium
Seating Capacity: 63,000
Wi-Fi – Yes
DAS – Yes

According to stats from this year’s Final Four basketball weekend, the Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity at Lucas Oil Stadium is working just fine, with just about 11 terabytes of traffic measured over the hoops-happy weekend. According to organizers, the stadium’s Wi-Fi carried more than 5 TB of traffic, which should prove stable enough for Colts fans this fall.

Jacksonville Jaguars
EverBank Field
Seating Capacity: 67,297
Wi-Fi – Yes
DAS – No

Jacksonville fans who are not inside one of the two pools at EverBank Field can use the free Wi-Fi provided by Extreme and SignalShare, with bandwidth provided by Comcast. EverBank also has Wi-Fi “coaches” to help fans connect to the network, reportedly wearing bright yellow hats.

Tennessee Titans
Nissan Stadium
Seating Capacity: 69,149
Wi-Fi – Yes
DAS – Yes

Another outfit by Extreme Networks, Titans fans are into the second year of stadium-wide Wi-Fi, at the newly named “Nissan Stadium” thanks to a sponsor change this summer.

Texas A&M’s fiber-backed Wi-Fi at Kyle Field records 5.7 TB of data during Alabama game

Scoreboard, Kyle Field. Photos: Texas A&M

Scoreboard, Kyle Field. Photos: Texas A&M

We’ve been hearing rumors about how much data was flowing at the new fiber-based Wi-Fi network at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field this fall, and now we finally have some verified numbers that are sure to pop some eyeballs: According to the networking crew at Corning, fans at Kyle Field used 5.7 terabytes of Wi-Fi data during the Oct. 17 game against Alabama, which the Aggies lost 41-23.

In case you are keeping score the 5.7 TB mark is the second-largest single-game Wi-Fi usage number we’ve seen, trailing only the 6.2 TB recorded at Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz., earlier this year. Before you pin it all on the network, however, be aware that the newly refurbished Kyle Field can hold a whole lotta fans — the announced attendance for the ‘Bama game was 105,733, which is 35,000+ more fans than the 70,288 who attended the Super Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1. Still, building a network to support basically another baseball stadium’s worth of fans is pretty cool, too.

Other related numbers from the Wi-Fi network are in Super Bowl territory as well, including the 37,823 unique clients recorded during pre-game and game time, as well as the 26,318 peak concurrent user count. We’re not sure why only 10 people tweeted about the Wi-Fi (8 good, 2 bad) but the 3.2 Gbps throughput should also turn some heads.

Corning ONE DAS headend equipment at Texas A&M's Kyle Field deployment

Corning ONE DAS headend equipment at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field deployment

The question this all raises for us is, has the availability of a fiber backbone allowed fans to simply use more traffic? And is the demand for mobile data at big events perhaps even higher than we thought? With a regular-season game at Nebraska hitting 4.2 TB earlier this season, it’s pretty clear that data demands are showing no signs of hitting a plateau. Or maybe we can deduce that the better the network, the more traffic it will carry?

It’s also worthwhile to note that stats this season from AT&T have shown several 1+ TB data totals for games at Kyle Field on the AT&T DAS network, which uses the same fiber backbone as the Wi-Fi. This “fiber to the fan” infrastructure, built by IBM and Corning, will also be at the core of the network being built at the new home of the NFL’s Falcons, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, scheduled to open in 2017.

We’ll have more soon from Kyle Field, as Mobile Sports Report is scheduled to make a visit there for the Nov. 7 game against Auburn. If you plan to be in College Station that weekend give us a holler. Or a yell, right? We are looking forward to seeing the stadium and the network firsthand, to do some speedtests to see how well all areas are covered. With 5.7 TB of Wi-Fi, it’s a good guess the coverage is pretty good.

(Statistics provided by Corning for the Oct. 17 game are below.)

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New Report: Green Bay’s Lambeau Field leads new NFL Wi-Fi deployments

Wave the flag, Wi-Fi has come to Lambeau Field! Photo: Green Bay Packers

Wave the flag, Wi-Fi has come to Lambeau Field! Photo: Green Bay Packers

When most NFL fans think of the Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field, they think of frozen tundra — of Vince Lombardi roaming the sideline in his thick glasses and peaked hat, with visible breath coming through the face masks of behemoth linemen on the field. In the stands, they see the venerable fans braving the cold of northern Wisconsin in their snowmobile suits, with mittens wrapped around a bratwurst and a beer.

But do they think of those same Packers fans pulling out their iPhones and Samsungs to take selfies, and posting them to Instagram or Facebook? Maybe not so much.

The reality of 2015, however, finds us with fans in Green Bay being just like fans anywhere else — meaning, they want to be able to use their mobile devices while at the game. As the cover story of our most recent Stadium Tech Report series, we explore the details of bringing Wi-Fi to historic Lambeau Field, where late-season texting might carry the threat of frostbitten fingers.

Our PRO FOOTBALL ISSUE has 50-plus pages of insight and how-to explanations that in addition to Green Bay’s work also cover some interesting Wi-Fi access point hiding tricks practiced by the IT folks at AT&T Stadium, and a recap of Levi’s Stadium plans as it gets ready to host Super Bowl 50. Plus team-by-team capsule descriptions of stadium tech deployments for all 32 NFL franchises. It’s all free to you, so download your copy today!

The NFL haves and have-nots when it comes to Wi-Fi

PRO_FB_ThumbWas it really three long years ago that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued an edict calling for Wi-Fi in all 31 NFL stadiums? While we’re almost there, it’s not quite everywhere yet and during the course of preparing this year’s PRO FOOTBALL ISSUE we found ourselves wondering how many of the current NFL stadium Wi-Fi networks are really up to snuff. Sure, there are leaders in the networking space, as teams with lots of money or recent Super Bowl hostings seem to be in a bit of an arms war when it comes to installing robust wireless networks. Teams like the Dallas Cowboys, the San Francisco 49ers, the Miami Dolphins, the New England Patriots and a few others come to mind when you are making a list of top networks, and you can probably add Green Bay’s 1,000-plus AP deployment to that tally.

But what about the balance of the league, which now has some kind of fan-facing Wi-Fi in 25 of its 31 venues? While those that don’t have any Wi-Fi at all are somewhat understandable (mainly due to questions about imminent franchise relocation), what about the stadiums that put in Wi-Fi a few years ago, or only put in a limited amount of technology? With no end in sight to the increasing demands for wireless bandwidth, how soon will the older networks need revamping? Including the DAS deployments? Those are questions we’ll keep asking and looking to answer, as we’ve already seen some public reports about Wi-Fi networks falling down on the job. The best place to start, of course, is with the report, so DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY right now!

Thank the sponsors, who let you read for free

Reporting, writing, editing and producing all this content has a cost, but thanks to our generous (and increasing!) list of sponsors, our editorially objective content remains free for you, the reader. We’d like to take a quick moment to thank the sponsors of the Q3 issue of Stadium Tech Report, which include Mobilitie, Crown Castle, SOLiD, CommScope, TE Connectivity, Aruba Networks, JMA Wireless, Corning, 5 Bars, Extreme Networks, ExteNet Systems. and partners Edgewater Wireless and Zinwave. We’d also like to thank you, our readers for your interest and continued support.

As always, we are here to hear what you have to say: Send me an email to kaps at and let us know what you think of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series, and whether or not the Wi-Fi at your local NFL stadium is a division winner.

Levi’s Stadium Monday Night Football debut sees 2.87 TB of Wi-Fi traffic, 874 GB on AT&T DAS

Levi's Stadium during its inaugural Monday Night Football game. Photo: Levi's Stadium

Levi’s Stadium during its inaugural Monday Night Football game. Photo: Levi’s Stadium

For its first-ever Monday Night Football game, Levi’s Stadium saw 2.87 terabytes of data cross its Wi-Fi network, with an additional 874 GB traversing the AT&T cellular DAS network during the Niners’ somewhat surprising 20-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

With the confirmed numbers bumping up against the 4 TB mark — and if you add in the probable (but unreported) 1 TB or more that was used by Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile customers on the Levi’s Stadium DAS — it’s readily apparent that usage of wireless data inside stadiums is only continuing to grow, with no top end yet in sight.

Though the Wi-Fi mark didn’t hit the same heights as the 3.3 TB number recorded at the first regular-season opener at Levi’s Stadium last fall, it’s impressive nonetheless because of the game’s somewhat lower profile given the modest expectations for a Niners team that has suffered through an exceptionally strange offseason that saw its high-profile coach Jim Harbaugh leave for the University of Michigan, and a number of top players retire, like star linebacker Patrick Willis, or depart, like running back Frank Gore, who went to Indianapolis.

And with the new-car buzz somewhat gone from Levi’s Stadium if almost 3 TB of Wi-Fi is a “regular” mark you have to start wondering what the totals are going to be like when Super Bowl 50 comes to the venue in February. On the DAS side of things, the cellular traffic generated by AT&T customers at Levi’s Stadium Monday night was the second-highest in the NFL venues measured by AT&T, trailing only the traffic at namesake AT&T Stadium, where AT&T saw 1.107 TB of DAS traffic during the Cowboys’ opening-game victory over the New York Giants. According to AT&T, DAS traffic at NFL stadiums during the first week of games was up 46 percent compared to the first week of games in 2014. We’ll have a separate post on college DAS traffic tomorrow, which is also up. Thanks to the Niners for the data chart below.

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DGP upgrades Levi’s Stadium DAS in preparation for Super Bowl 50

New 'chiclet' DAS antennas visible on the concourse overhangs at Levi's Stadium. All photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

New ‘chiclet’ DAS antennas visible on the concourse overhangs at Levi’s Stadium. All photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

After deploying one of the biggest and most robust stadium DAS networks at Levi’s Stadium last year, what did DAS Group Professionals do for an encore?

How about completely re-deploying a new DAS at Levi’s Stadium during the football offseason, just about doubling the capacity in a construction project that took place at a “live” venue instead of one under construction?

The ambitious renovation of the not-quite-1-year-old Levi’s Stadium DAS was all done in the name of Super Bowl 50, the NFL’s big game that is coming to Levi’s Stadium in February 2016. According to DGP president Steve Dutto, the huge jump in wireless traffic statistics at Super Bowl XLIX last February got the major wireless carriers working early to assure that the NFL’s 50th Super Bowl would have enough cellular capacity.

In addition to new antennas from DAS gear supplier JMA Wireless that can be more finely tuned, and more antennas and remote units to beef up coverage and support more cell sectors inside Levi’s Stadium, DGP and stadium owner the San Francisco 49ers also increased the DAS footprint outside the stadium in the adjacent parking lots, addressing what Niners COO Al Guido told MSR was a “primary concern” heard from fans during the inaugural Levi’s Stadium season.

Close-up of new DAS antennas (from mid-July, before the wires were connected)

Close-up of new DAS antennas (from mid-July, before the wires were connected)

Though work on the DAS will likely continue throughout the season, most of the construction and deployments were expected to be in place for the Niners’ regular season opener tonight versus the Minnesota Vikings.

Ready for another ‘Super’ cellular day

Though the unofficial totals for DAS traffic at the last Super Bowl that were in excess of 6 terabytes were the highest we’ve ever seen reported, DGP’s Dutto said that the top wireless carriers are expecting as much as 2.5 times that amount of traffic at Super Bowl 50, a load that might have swamped even the previously robust Levi’s Stadium DAS.

“The [cellular] traffic at the Super Bowl this past year was greater than anything anybody had seen,” Dutto said in a recent interview at Levi’s Stadium. All the carriers, he said, were “amazed” at the traffic jump from the year before, when AT&T and Verizon Wireless reported a combined total of about 2.5 TB of cellular data at Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. (For what it’s worth the Wi-Fi traffic also just about doubled, from 3.3 TB to 6.23 TB.)

The DGP team at Levi's for our interview included, L to R, Derek Cotton, director of engineering; Steve Dutto, president; and Vince Gamick, VP and COO.

The DGP team at Levi’s for our interview included, L to R, Derek Cotton, director of engineering; Steve Dutto, president; and Vince Gamick, VP and COO.

So even though the Levi’s Stadium DAS performed exceedingly well — according to Dutto “we turned it on and from day one it exceeded expectations” — and that there wasn’t any capacity problems during the Niners’ 2014 season, the expected impending crush coming in February spurred what Dutto called “carrier-driven upgrades” that included the need to take over some previous storage-room space to house the increased amount of head-end gear.

Under seat DAS antennas part of the upgrade

Inside the stadium itself, Dutto said that Verizon will expand its coverage from 60 to 80 sectors, while AT&T will increase from 45 to 54 or more sectors. DGP will increase its “zones” of coverage in the main seating bowl from 23 to 40, and will go from 250 antennas to 400, and from 330 remote units to 450. There will also be plenty of new antennas from JMA that Dutto said have “greater gain and sharper patterns” to enhance coverage.

“It’s almost like deploying twice the network in the same amount of time,” Dutto said. The other big difference from last year, however, was that Levi’s Stadium was open for events this past football offseason, from WrestleMania 31 to a NHL Stadium Series game to concerts with the Grateful Dead and Taylor Swift.

Another view of the antennas on the concourse overhangs

Another view of the antennas on the concourse overhangs

Though there was more than enough cabling areas and pathways to make the retrofit easier, Dutto said working around the live events increased the deployment degree of difficulty. But even with new head end rooms and extras like under-seat DAS antennas (a new deployment method at Levi’s Stadium for DAS), 20-plus new antenna placements in the parking lot and the accomodation of new 2.5-GHz spectrum for Sprint, Dutto said that the new network was expected to be at least “90 percent complete” before the season’s start.

As is regular with lead-ups to Super Bowls, there will likely be even more network tweaking and adjustment up until the last minute before kickoff on Feb. 7, 2016.

A ‘heart-attack” moment and hot dog machines

With any luck, the new network will work as well as the old one, and will hopefully light up without the “heart attack moment” that happened just before opening day last fall. Dutto and his team of Derek Cotton, director of engineering, and Vince Gamick, DGP’s vice president and COO, told of coming to Levi’s Stadium for the regular season opener last September and almost keeling over when they couldn’t detect the DAS network anywhere inside the building.

As it turns out, Dutto said that the major wireless carriers had forgot to turn down the power on their macro towers at the cell sites that surround Levi’s Stadium, which basically overwhelmed the internal network since Dutto said the outdoor cell sites operate at 80 watts, compared to the 2-watt in-stadium DAS network.

“There are six cell sites within hundreds of feet [of Levi's Stadium] and since they hadn’t turned them down, we couldn’t see the network in the stadium,” said Dutto, whose pulse was revived when the situation was quickly rectified.

Close-up of the back of one of the new antennas

Close-up of the back of one of the new antennas

At least the Levi’s Stadium DAS couldn’t be turned off by stadium workers or blacked out by hot dog machines, problems that DGP encountered at the Niners’ old home, Candlestick Park, where DGP deployed a test DAS in the 49ers’ final season there in 2013. According to Dutto, for some reason the DGP network was connected by utility PG&E to the same electrical routes as the cookers for stadium hot dogs — and when those were turned on one Sunday the system was overloaded, bringing the DAS down with sausages.

The Candlestick DAS also suffered an outage when the park rangers who lived at the stadium thought the equipment air conditioners were too loud, so they turned them off — setting off multiple alarms for Dutto and his network administration team.

Safe to say, similar problems aren’t expected to arise as DGP and the Niners prepare Levi’s Stadium’s cellular network for Super Bowl 50, a tough task but one with rewards on both a personal and business level.

“This has been fun, and the Niners have been great to work with,” said Dutto.