June 26, 2016

New Report: US Bank Stadium sneak peek, Wi-Fi analytics and more!

DOC12Our newest STADIUM TECH REPORT features a look inside the Minnesota Vikings’ new home, US Bank Stadium, with a sneak peek photo essay ahead of the venue’s August opening dates. Also included in our latest issue is a feature on Wi-Fi analytics, as well as in-depth profiles of technology deployments at the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium, and the Buffalo Bills’ Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Our Q2 issue for 2016 also has a big focus on DAS deployments, specifically at two venues with extra-large attendance issues — namely, the Kentucky Derby and the Daytona 500. You can get all this analysis and reporting by simply downloading a free copy of the report!

From its architecturally striking exterior to its sunny glass-walled interior, US Bank Stadium looks like a jewel for downtown Minneapolis. While we’ll have a full report on the technology inside a bit later this summer, you can feast your eyes on what we saw during a hard-hat tour of the stadium in early June.

On the Wi-Fi analytics side, you can hear from several leaders in stadium Wi-Fi implementations about how they are using data from their networks to improve the fan experience while also finding new ways to boost their own stadium businesses. Our profiles of Busch Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium and a bonus profile of the Los Angeles Coliseum all provide in-depth coverage of the unique challenges each one of these venues faces when it comes to technology deployments. And our DAS-focused coverage of deployments at Churchill Downs and Daytona International Speedway illustrate how expanded cellular coverage can provide enough connectivity when Wi-Fi isn’t an economic option. DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY of the report today and get this knowledge inside your head!

Kentucky Derby gets it done with DAS: Podcast No. 5 looks at Mobilitie’s neutral-host solution for 170,000 fans

Epsiode 5 of the STADIUM TECH REPORT PODCAST is off and running, in which hosts Phil Harvey and Paul Kapustka examine why the Kentucky Derby doesn’t need Wi-Fi but instead uses DAS to serve the wireless needs of its 170,000 race-day guests. With more than 12 terabytes of data used on race day and 20-plus TB used over the weekend, the Derby DAS was a winner… listen in and find out why!

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST:

Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes!

Verizon hits 20+ TB in cellular traffic for Indy 500 weekend

Fans stream into Gasoline Alley at the Indy 500. Credit: Verizon Wireless

Fans stream into Gasoline Alley at the Indy 500. Credit: Verizon Wireless

As Verizon Wireless expected, fans at the Indianapolis 500 race weekend used more than 20 terabytes of wireless data on the Verizon networks in and around the famed Brickyard track, more than doubling the data used in 2015. Though Verizon had predicted and prepared for the data onslaught, it’s still incredible to think that wireless data use at big events is still doubling every year. How much higher can it go?

For the actual day of this year’s Indy 500 race, Verizon said it saw more than 10 TB of data on its networks; last year on the race day Verizon saw 3.16 TB of data. For the full weekend, the exact total from Verizon was 20.8 TB; last year, the total for the entire weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday events) was more than 9 TB.

According to Verizon, the two highest data usage moments were the start of the race (at 12:19 p.m. local time), followed by another traffic spike at 1:15 p.m., when Juan Pablo Montoya’s car crashed. We haven’t seen an exact attendance number, but various sources said well over 350,000 fans attended this year’s race, the 100th in Indy 500 history.

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.

Cellular use tops 12 TB for Kentucky Derby day — 20 TB+ for Derby weekend

Race winner Nyquist. Photo: KentuckDerby.com

Race winner Nyquist. Photo: KentuckDerby.com

Wireless data use at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby broke records all around, as major wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless both reported new event-usage top totals, with AT&T seeing 6.7 terabytes of data use while Verizon recorded 5.5 TB, for a total of 12.2 TB used during the Run for the Roses day. Last year, AT&T saw 5.1 TB of traffic on the Churchill Downs DAS and some extra infrastructure, while Verizon saw its total increase from 3.8 TB in 2015. Both AT&T and Verizon are on the main Churchill Downs DAS, which is run by neutral-host provider Mobilitie. This number will likely get even bigger if and when we get DAS stats from T-Mobile, which is also on the Churchill Downs DAS.

For the entire “Derby weekend” — a two-day stretch that also includes the Kentucky Oaks race on Friday — the carriers saw a combined 20.15 TB of data, with AT&T hitting 11.4 TB for the weekend and Verizon 8.75. Those totals are pretty stunning, when you realize that just two years ago AT&T only saw 2 TB of traffic on its DAS and associated infrastructure (which includes temporary cell towers on trucks and nearby macro towers), and Verizon customers used just 1.37 TB of data.

More evidence of wireless traffic growth can be found in the AT&T claim that it saw 815 GB of traffic on its network in a single hour last Saturday, easily the high number ever for AT&T at any kind of event. AT&T said that peak hour was from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time, when the big race was held and favorite Nyquist won. In 2014, that peak hour for AT&T saw 180 GB of traffic, a number that we thought was big then. Verizon, which like AT&T added capacity to its infrastructure at Churchill Downs prior to this year’s race, also said it saw a traffic spike around the time of the big event. By comparison, AT&T said that at this year’s Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium it saw 201 GB of traffic on its DAS network just after kickoff.

When it comes to DAS the Derby now falls just behind the Super Bowl for DAS totals with 12.2 TB to 15.9 TB, though the Derby number could get closer if and when we get numbers from T-Mobile and Sprint. And yes, granted it’s a much bigger crowd (the Derby had its second-highest attendance ever with 167,227 — just a few thousand less than the record of 170,513 set last year. We also don’t have any stats yet for usage of the new Churchill Downs app, but it does appear betting was up this year, maybe due to app integration?

Let the NFL streaming battles begin: AT&T brings live streaming to basic Sunday Ticket plan

Screen shot of DirecTV Sunday Ticket app for iPad

Screen shot of DirecTV Sunday Ticket app for iPad

If you are a regular MSR reader you may remember that when the AT&T/DirecTV acquisition came to pass, we wondered how long it would take before AT&T and Verizon started battling each other in the quest to bring live NFL action to fans on their phones. The answer: wait no more, the battle’s here.

Today, AT&T announced that all subscribers to the DirecTV Sunday Ticket plan “will be able to stream Sunday afternoon out-of-market football games to almost any device” when action kicks off this fall. Previously, Sunday Ticket subscribers had to shell out about an extra hundred bucks to get the Sunday Ticket Max package, which offered streaming. Last year, the basic Sunday Ticket package was about $250; so far we can’t find a price for this season (and we don’t want to hunt through all the splash screens trying to get us to sign up for DirecTV services). Suffice to say it will still be a premium product, but one that many NFL fans can’t live without.

According to AT&T, live streaming via the Sunday Ticket plan was up 35 percent last year, a figure that doesn’t surprise us at all. We’ve been tracking Verizon Wireless and its NFL Mobile package of live-streamed games (which varies but usually includes Monday, Thursday and any weekend games, as well as Sunday out-of-market games) for some time now, and posts about NFL Mobile typically draw the highest traffic to our site. Verizon has never released subscriber numbers for NFL Mobile, but if you guessed it was among the most popular sports apps out there, you would probably be right. Even at $1 billion for four years, the rights fees seem a bargain for Verizon.

DirecTV pays the NFL more (about $1.5 billion a year, according to reports) but it gets more; NFL Mobile is exclusive to cell phone devices, meaning you can’t use it on tablets or PCs. And now thrown into the mobile mix is Twitter, whose reported $10 million deal with the NFL for Thursday-night games also includes the rights to stream to cell phones and any other device. Anyone else out there want to play?

Why is NFL action so popular on mobile devices? Mainly, I think, because of several factors, including fantasy betting and the fact that the screens have gotten so big and sharp, you can actually watch a game on a phone and it’s not painful. As many of us mobile-NFL freaks know, the best part of the deals isn’t necessarily the games themselves, but instead it’s access to the NFL’s RedZone channel, which keeps you up to date on action all across the league (and despite its name, it offers way more than just plays “in the red zone.” They try to keep live action going at all times, and NO COMMMERCIALS makes it a football junkie’s dream).

Plus, on the West coast, RedZone will often just show all of later games since there are fewer contests to jump in between. I don’t know how many people will sit every Sunday through several games on the couch, but if you can watch a few minutes or a final drive while you’re somewhere else it’s pretty addictive.

No news yet this year from Verizon on what the NFL Mobile package of games might look like, but stay tuned: This battle is just getting started. Good news is, more competition means more access and lower prices for fans. That’s something we can all cheer, no matter which teams we root for.