September 23, 2014

Stadium Tech Report: THE FOOTBALL ISSUE arrives, with extensive coverage of Levi’s Stadium launch and tech reports on all 31 NFL stadiums

STR3_ThumbMobile Sports Report is pleased to announce the arrival of THE FOOTBALL ISSUE, our third Stadium Tech Report for 2014. As the title suggests this long-form report focuses on technology deployments at U.S. football stadiums, with an extensive inside look at the technology inside Levi’s Stadium, the new facility for the San Francisco 49ers. The report is available for free download from our site.

In addition to our Levi’s coverage, the Q3 issue of Stadium Tech Report also includes team-by-team reports on all 31 NFL stadiums, with a focus on Wi-Fi and DAS deployments. Our research found that while there are still 10 stadiums without fan-facing Wi-Fi, there is a lot of innovation going around league-wide, including big new digital displays in Jacksonville and Dallas, and new Wi-Fi and app deployments in other facilities.

Included in the report is an exclusive MSR interview with Michelle McKenna-Doyle, the NFL’s chief information officer, who talks about how the league office acts as a guide to helping teams with their tech deployments. We also have additional insight, analysis, and more tech profiles, and the good news is it is all free to read! Simply head to our report download page and get your free copy today!

We’d like to take a quick moment to thank our report sponsors, without whom we wouldn’t be able to offer such extensive original reporting and analysis free of charge. Our list for the Q3 2014 report includes SOLiD, Crown Castle, TE Connectivity, Extreme Networks, Aruba Networks, Mobilitie and DAS Group Professionals.

Planning a DAS deployment? Check out these AT&T stadium stats from football opening weekend

There’s lots of shared belief out there that fans want to use mobile devices while they are attending sporting events. What we like even more here at Mobile Sports Report are hard numbers that tell us just how much fans are using mobile devices while they are in stadiums and arenas. Though sometimes hard to get, such statistics are great signposts for those who are planning to build their own stadium networks sometime soon, because it gives them a target to shoot for.

Courtesy of our friends over at AT&T, here are some traffic statistics gleaned from AT&T’s distributed antenna system (DAS) deployments in major professional and college football stadiums during last weekend’s games. According to AT&T, the average amount of cellular data used at a pro venue home opener in 2014 was 361 gigabytes, up 59 percent from season-opening games last year. The stats, remember, are only from AT&T DAS networks at the 16 NFL stadiums where AT&T has a DAS network presence.

The top stadium in terms of AT&T DAS traffic was Miami’s Sun Life Stadium with 1,035 GB (or 1.035 TB), followed by AT&T Stadium in Dallas with 889 GB and Atlanta’s Georgia Dome with 696 GB. It will be interesting to see whether or not any of those totals are surpassed by the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, which hosts its first regular-season home game this Sunday.

On the collegiate side, the average opening-day traffic number was 288 GB, which is huge compared to the 2013 season average of 186 GB per game. The stats are an average taken from 25 Division 1 schools where AT&T has a DAS presence. And in case you were wondering where college football is king, the stats for schools in the South was an average of 343 GB, with the rest of the country checking in at 186 GB. The top three schools in terms of home-opener DAS traffic were Oklahoma with 866 GB, Georgia with 688, and the new stadium at Baylor with 686 GB.

More AT&T DAS stats follow. Remember, this is just a fraction of the actual traffic since many of these venues also have other carriers on DAS networks, as well as Wi-Fi networks in place. Other carriers and stadiums — send us your stats!

AT&T STADIUM DAS STATS

Year-over-Year Professional Mobile Data Increase

o 2014 home opener – 361GB average per venue

o 2013 season average – 227GB average per venue

· 2013 season average to 2014 season opener is a year-over-year increase of more than 59 percent

· 2013 season opener to 2014 season opener is a year-over-year increase of more than 58 percent

Opening Weekend Mobile Data Usage Professional vs. Collegiate

o 2014 professional season opener – 361GB average per venue

o 2014 collegiate season opener – 288GB average per venue

Top 5 Opening Weekend Professional Venues by Total Mobile Data

o Miami, FL – 1035GB

· Equivalent to more than 2.9 million social media post with photos

· Peak hour – 1-2pm ET – 146GB

o Dallas, TX – 889GB

· Equivalent to more than 2.5 million social media post with photos

· Peak hour – 2-3pm CT – 158GB

o Atlanta, GA – 696GB

· Equivalent to nearly 2 million social media post with photos

· Peak hour – 2-3pm ET – 159GB

o Chicago, IL – 452GB

· Equivalent to nearly 1.3 million social media post with photos

· Peak hour – 1-2pm CT – 107GB

o Pittsburgh, PA – 385GB

· Equivalent to more than 1.1 million social media post with photos

· Peak hour – 2-3pm ET – 83GB

Caveats:

· All figures include only data traffic seen on AT&T’s venue-specific mobile network.

· All data metrics come from only venues with a DAS where AT&T’s mobile network is on-air. These metrics are not comprehensive of every game played during the opening weekend for professional or college football.

· This data is compiled from 16 professional football stadiums and 25 division one college football stadiums that had opening week home games where AT&T is on-air on a DAS.

· All 2013 season average data is compiled from only venues with a DAS where AT&T’s mobile network was on-air and games where data was tracked and available.

ADDITIONAL AT&T COLLEGIATE DAS STATS

Regional Breakdown by Mobile Data Usage

o South – 343GB average per venue

o Rest of the US – 186GB average per venue

· Year-over-Year Mobile Data Increase

o 2014 home opener – 288GB average per venue

o 2013 season average – 155GB average per venue

· Top 5 Opening Weekend College Venues by Total Mobile Data

· Norman, OK – 866GB

o Equivalent to more than 2.4 million social media post with photos

· Athens, GA – 688GB

o Equivalent to more than 1.9 million social media post with photos

· Waco, TX – 686GB

o Equivalent to more than 1.9 million social media post with photos

· Auburn, AL – 506GB

o Equivalent to more than 1.4 million social media post with photos

· Los Angeles, CA – 469GB

o Equivalent to more than 1.3 million social media post with photos

Caveats:

· All figures include only data traffic seen on AT&T’s venue-specific mobile network.

· All data metrics come from only venues with a DAS where AT&T’s mobile network is on-air. These metrics are not comprehensive of every game played during the opening weekend for college football.

· This data is compiled from 25 division one college football stadiums that had opening week home games where AT&T is on-air on a DAS.

· All 2013 season average data is compiled from only venues with a DAS where AT&T’s mobile network was on-air and games where data was tracked and available.

· The “South” region is based off how it is qualified by the U.S. Census. It includes the following states: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Bengals tap Extreme for Wi-Fi, TE Connectivity for DAS at Paul Brown Stadium

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.42.52 AMEven though the NFL season is barely underway, there’s one organization that already has a multi-win streak going: Extreme Networks said it will provide a Wi-Fi deployment for the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, the fifth NFL team deal for Extreme and the third announced this year.

The Wi-Fi network at Paul Brown Stadium is scheduled to go live this Sunday for the Bengals’ home opener against the Atlanta Falcons. According to the team and Extreme, the Bengals will also utilize the Extreme Wi-Fi coaches strategy, where knowledgeable network types roam the stands to help fans connect. Prior to this year, Extreme won Wi-Fi deals for the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field. In addition to Cincinnati, this year Extreme has announced Wi-Fi projects for the Tennessee Titans’ LP Field, and a joint deal with SignalShare to bring Wi-Fi to EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And while we haven’t seen a press release yet we also know that TE Connectivity is in charge of installing a DAS at Paul Brown Stadium, meaning that cellular reception should improve as well.

We haven’t yet spoken to the folks at Paul Brown Stadium, but here are some prepared quotes from the press release to tell you how happy they are to be joining the NFL Wi-Fi fraternity:

“Our fans are of the utmost importance to our organization, and as technology continues to provide new possibilities, it was crucial that we identify a way to provide fans a truly differentiated in-person game day experience,” said Michael Kayes, Bengals director of technology. “The partnership with Extreme Networks provides the foundation to do just that, affording fans the connectivity they’ve grown to expect. We’re also excited to be able to offer our fans the opportunity to get field-level action through NFL RedZone.”

Here’s a Twitter pic of the press conference today:

Niners: More than 1,000 fans used in-seat food delivery at 2nd Levi’s Stadium preseason game

Screen grab from Levi's Stadium app showing in-seat food delivery option. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report.

Screen grab from Levi’s Stadium app showing in-seat food delivery option. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report.

One of the more unique features the San Francisco 49ers are introducing at their new home this year is the ability for all fans to have food and drink delivered to them, no matter which one of Levi’s Stadium’s 68,500 seats they are in. And according to the Niners, the feature is quickly catching on, with more than 1,000 in-seat orders delivered at the second preseason game at Levi’s on Aug. 24.

At a Levi’s media technology tour Wednesday, the Niners’ tech staff provided an in-depth and up-close look at some of the new stadium’s network infrastructure, including a quick glimpse of one of the several data-center rooms. Dan Williams, vice president of technology for the Niners, said that at the first preseason game at Levi’s on Aug. 17, more fans used the “express pickup” service to order food that they could then pick up at concession stand windows than the seat-delivery feature. But at the second game against the San Diego Chargers, more fans went for the in-seat option, perhaps a sign that Niners fans are learning and testing the new stadium services as they go.

“It’s going to be an ongoing education process,” said Martin Manville, business operations analyst for the Niners and one of the key tech leaders on the Levi’s app team. Manville said the Niners had learned a lot about food delivery in test situations at Candlestick Park last season — and some of those lessons are now evident in the Levi’s delivery menu, which is stripped down to ensure the food runners can get grub to fans before it gets cold (or warm, in the case of cold beverages). According to Manville the average delivery time at the Aug. 24 game was between 10 and 12 minutes, but the team expects that “normal” delays during the regular season will be closer to 15 to 20 minutes per order.

Still, that’s not a bad option if you don’t want to leave your seat and you don’t mind the extra $5 delivery charge. One early interesting stat from the food-delivery process is that the Niners found more orders coming from the “cheap seats” in the north and south stands at Levi’s than from the 50-yard-line seats where the high rollers sit. According to Manville, since the fans in the club seats have easy access to numerous uncrowded concession stands they may not see the need for the in-seat options.

Wi-Fi APs: 600 in Levi’s bowl seating

Under-seat Wi-Fi AP at Levi's Stadium.

Under-seat Wi-Fi AP at Levi’s Stadium.

Some other news nuggets from the tech tour day: According to Williams, of the 1,200 Wi-Fi access points at Levi’s, 600 of those are distributed in the seating areas (aka “the bowl”), with the other 600 placed in suites, concourses and other stadium areas. Williams said the Aruba Networks Wi-Fi antennas are basically split into three types — regular enterprise-type APs for suite and office areas, regular outdoor APs for concourse areas, and more specialized versions (including the under-seat APs) for bowl placements.

– For the app itself, the Niners said that there have been 80,000 downloads so far, with almost half of the season ticket holders having put their ticketing information into the app. The “NiNerds,” the geek-dressed help squad that provides fans with personal assistance with the app, is now at about 50 or 60 strong at each event (originally the team had said it wanted to hire 150 such Wi-Fi coaches). The Niners said the NiNerds will be doing more pro-active app education going forward, doing things like approaching fans in concession lines to see if they know about the express line or in-seat ordering options.

– Though Comcast’s 10-year deal with the Niners calls for the cable provider to bring in two 10-gigabit backbone pipes, the Niners are often quoted as saying they have 40 GB of backbone bandwidth. We solved this mystery today: According to Comcast, the other two 10-GB pipes are a redundant channel from another (unnamed) provider. So: the stadium does have four 10 GB bandwidth pipes, by far the most capacity in any stadium we’ve heard of.

– More traffic stats: Though we will break these down in a separate post, the Niners said that for the Aug. 24 game fans used 1.96 Terabytes of Wi-Fi traffic, just a bit lower than the 2.13 TB used at the first preseason game on Aug. 17. The team also provided some DAS stats, claiming fans used another 1.02 TB of cellular data at the two preseason games combined.

Tech tour photos follow… including a sighting of some (shhhh!) Cisco equipment in the data center racks… click on photos for larger images.

Niners VP of technology Dan Williams (left) and COO Al Guido kick off the Wednesday tech tour.

Niners VP of technology Dan Williams (left) and COO Al Guido kick off the Wednesday tech tour.

Ted Girdner, Comcast VP of business services for California, talks stadium networking.

Ted Girdner, Comcast VP of business services for California, talks stadium networking.

Dan Williams talks Wi-Fi while the Levi's Stadium new turf grows silently behind him.

Dan Williams talks Wi-Fi while the Levi’s Stadium new turf grows silently behind him.

Mystery Cisco gear inside Levi's Stadium data center. Alert! Intruder!

Mystery Cisco gear inside Levi’s Stadium data center. Alert! Intruder!

Brocade router at Levi's Stadium data center. One of many. As in, many many.

Brocade router at Levi’s Stadium data center. One of many. As in, many many.

Wi-Fi gear in Levi's Stadium data room.

Wi-Fi gear in Levi’s Stadium data room.

Franks and DAS: DGP DAS antennas above food station.

Franks and DAS: DGP DAS antennas above food station.

Screenshot of food feature on Levi's Stadium app. Note the green light buttons to show expected wait times for express option.

Screenshot of food feature on Levi’s Stadium app. Note the green light buttons to show expected wait times for express option.

Obligatory Levi's Stadium selfie. MSR shirts complete the style.

Obligatory Levi’s Stadium selfie. MSR shirts complete the style.

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

Who’s up for a Levi’s Stadium SpeedTest?

Friends and fans of Mobile Sports Report who are planning to attend Sunday’s first football game at Levi’s Stadium — how about helping us out by taking a network speed test to see if the facility’s much-touted wireless network really delivers as planned?

Ookla Speedtest in action

Ookla Speedtest in action

Mobile Sports Report will be in the house Sunday, and we will do our best to walk around as much of the stadium as we can, testing network speeds and app performance along the way. But nothing beats more results, and if you’re not familiar with how to do a network speed test, it’s pretty easy. Just go to Speedtest.net, run by Ookla, and either click “begin test” or even better yet from a mobile device, download the Speedtest app and do the same thing.

When the test is running you’ll get a little meter showing how fast the download and upload speeds are. I think the best method for sharing is to tweet the results — you can do so either by going to the “results” page on Speedtest.net or on the app, and share via Twitter from there, or maybe better yet just post a tweet with the results, along with the time of day and what part of the stadium you’re in. Also note whether you are using the stadium’s Wi-Fi network or just using a cellular connection. Both should work quite well, but it could be interesting to see if one works better than the other during a packed-house event.

If you don’t want to run a Speedtest, even tweeting about general network performance (good, slow, no connection) would be worthwhile, as would be any info about long or short concession lines, problems or smooth ways to get into the park, etc. If everyone uses the hashtag #Levinet I’ll round up as many as possible and put them in a blog post. (My Twitter handle is @PaulKaps if you want to follow my tests Sunday.)

We’ll try to organize group speed tests at as many games as we can get to this fall — again, the more results the better the idea we will have about how the new Levi’s Stadium is or isn’t performing.

UPDATE: Interesting tweet late Friday night from Dan Williams, the man whose job it is to make sure the network works…

Have to say I agree with Dan’s point that measuring pure speed via SpeedTest in a bit of a vacuum may not be an optimal grade. But I do like its ability to show whether things wireless are working or not… anyone with a better idea, we’re all ears… or browsers…

Bonus: KQED reporter Molly Samuel interviewed yours truly for a Marketplace radio segment on Levi’s, embedded below. Enjoy!