Arris to acquire Ruckus from Brocade as part of $800 million deal

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 6.17.41 PMThe wireless networking business once known as Ruckus Wireless is finding a new home, as Arris announced today that it plans to buy Ruckus from current owner Brocade as part of an $800 million deal that also includes Brocade’s ICX switch business.

Brocade, which purchased Ruckus for $1.2 billion earlier this year, is being acquired itself, by chipmaker Broadcom in a $5.5 billion deal announced last November.

According to an Arris release, the deal will be completed when Broadcom’s purchase of Brocade closes, an event expected to happen at the end of July.

We’ve got some calls in to see what, if anything, will happen to the growing stadium networking business at Ruckus, which in the past year has seen Ruckus Wi-Fi gear in arenas like Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. Stay tuned!

AmpThink’s Wi-Fi data reveals interesting attendance trends for collegiate customer

AmpThink infographic about how Wi-Fi data can help teams discover attendance information (click on photo for link to infographic page)

AmpThink infographic about how Wi-Fi data can help teams discover attendance information (click on photo for link to infographic page)

If there’s a single business concern we hear over and over again from stadium owners and operators, it’s the desire to answer a simple but powerful question: Who, exactly, is sitting in our seats?

Before digital technology arrived, that question was exceedingly hard to answer, as teams, schools and other ticket-sellers often only knew details of a small percentage of the actual fans in attendance. Paper tickets could be given to family, friends or sold to brokers, meaning the people actually at the game might very well not be the person who purchased the tickets.

While digital ticketing has improved the insight somewhat, many fans at many stadiums still use printed tickets for access, which may still keep the at-game attendee somewhat anonymous. But with a high-definition Wi-Fi network in place, stadium owners and operators can gain deep insights from the fans who do attend, even whether or not they actually log on to the network for access.

Wi-Fi deployment firm AmpThink, which has customers in all the U.S. pro leagues as well as in many major university venues, has put together a deeply sourced infographic showing how Wi-Fi analytics from a full season of games at a Power 5 college football stadium can produce some interesting insights — like the fact that 71 percent of all attendees only went to one game, and that only 2 percent of attendees went to all six games.

Using data to replace assumptions

Editor’s note: This post is part of Mobile Sports Report’s new Voices of the Industry feature, in which industry representatives submit articles, commentary or other information to share with the greater stadium technology marketplace. These are NOT paid advertisements, or infomercials. See our explanation of the feature to understand how it works.

While we here at Mobile Sports Report don’t often recommend company-produced infographics, the data and conclusions surfaced in this one are eye-opening and are likely to be informative to venue owners and operators in a wide range of sports; that’s why we agreed to make this information available to our readers.

We also like the detailed explanations accompanying the infographic, spelling out how the data were collected and how Wi-Fi can be used to identify fans (including those with devices that may not even be purposely connected to the network). The last part of the infographic page, which asks “How could Wi-Fi data change sports marketing?” is a question we’ve already seen others starting to answer — and one we expect many to test in the near future as teams deploy not just Wi-Fi networks but also Bluetooth beacons, login portal pages and other methods to increase the granularity of fan identification.

For the unidentified client, AmpThink said the results “surprised” the school, which had (like others) believed in “long-held industry assumptions about fan loyalty and audience size.” It’s our guess that digital data will increasingly be used to replace assumptions, and we’re looking forward to sharing your stories of how that happens.

AT&T Stadium sees 7.25 TB of Wi-Fi for Packers vs. Cowboys playoff game

The Dallas Cowboys before taking the field against the Green Bay Packers in a Jan. 15 playoff game. Credit: James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys before taking the field against the Green Bay Packers in a Jan. 15 playoff game. Credit: James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Pro football’s biggest stadium had the biggest non-Super Bowl Wi-Fi traffic day we’ve heard of this season, as the Dallas Cowboys reported seeing 7.25 terabytes of Wi-Fi data on the AT&T Stadium network during the Packers’ thrilling 34-31 victory on Jan. 15.

John Winborn, chief information officer for the Dallas Cowboys, sent us the info on the stadium’s biggest Wi-Fi day ever, surpassing the previous record of 6.77 TB seen on the AT&T Stadium Wi-Fi network for WrestleMania 32 back on April 5, 2016. The new total for Wi-Fi was even set by fewer fans, with attendance for the Jan. 15 playoff game at 93,396, compared to the 101,763 at WrestleMania.

Though he didn’t provide an exact number, Winborn also said that the take rate of unique clients on the Wi-Fi network for the Packers game was 50 percent of attendees, roughly 46,700, easily one of the biggest numbers we’ve seen anywhere. During the Cowboys’ excellent regular season, Winborn said the average of Wi-Fi data used per game was 5.28 TB, an increase of 33 percent over the 2015 season.

UPDATE: The AT&T folks have provided the DAS stats for the same game, with an additional 3 TB of data used on the AT&T cellular networks inside the stadium. So we’re up to 10.25 TB for a non-Super Bowl game… doubt we will get any other carriers to add their totals but sounds to me like this is the biggest non-Super Bowl event out there in terms of total data.

Any other NFL teams (or college teams) out there with peak games and/or season averages, send them in! Let’s keep updating this list!

THE NEW TOP 7 FOR WI-FI

1. Super Bowl 51, NRG Stadium, Houston, Feb. 5, 2017: Wi-Fi: 11.8 TB
2. Super Bowl 50, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 7, 2016: Wi-Fi: 10.1 TB
3. Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys, Divisional Playoffs, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, Jan. 15, 2017: Wi-Fi: 7.25 TB
4. WrestleMania 32, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, April 3, 2016: Wi-Fi: 6.77 TB
5. Super Bowl 49, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., Feb. 1, 2015: Wi-Fi: 6.23 TB
6. Alabama vs. Texas A&M, Kyle Field, College Station, Texas, Oct. 17, 2015: Wi-Fi: 5.7 TB
7. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots, AFC Championship Game, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 22, 2017: Wi-Fi: 5.11 TB

Stadium Tech Report: Wi-Fi works well at Golden State Warriors’ Oracle Arena

Solid speedtest in the upper deck seats at Oracle Arena on Feb. 1, 2017, for a Golden State Warriors game. Credit all photos: MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

Solid speedtest in the upper deck seats at Oracle Arena on Feb. 1, 2017, for a Golden State Warriors game. Credit all photos: MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

After a year in which the team almost saw its stadium networking lease put up for public auction, the Golden State Warriors seem to have rebounded on the wireless-access front, with an updated network that should hold the Wi-Fi fort until the team moves into its new arena in San Francisco.

Though the team has repeatedly refused to provide any in-depth details on the state of Wi-Fi at Oakland’s Oracle Arena — save to say “there is an Extreme network in the building” — a recent visit by Mobile Sports Report found the fan-facing Wi-Fi network to be more than adequate, with top speeds in locations close to a visible Wi-Fi AP, and acceptable performance even in the upper-deck seating areas. Though we’ve heard scattered reports from friends and fans over the past two years about poor connectivity at Oracle, the current setup should keep fans from a no-signal problem until the team’s new home, Chase Center, is ready for the 2019-20 NBA season.

For those of you who need catching up on the story, the Warriors were one of the early and very visible clients of SignalShare, a company that provided “leased” Wi-Fi networks with a business plan centered mainly around trying to recoup investment via advertising and other marketing plans that used a web and app portal strategy to capture fan eyeballs. Early last year the company that provided financing for the Wi-Fi network gear used by SignalShare filed a lawsuit claiming $7.8 million in damages, including alleged fraudulent deals cooked up by SignalShare.

The legal proceedings eventually led to creditors attempting to stage an auction of SignalShare’s non-fraudulent leases, including the lease to run the Wi-Fi network at Oracle Arena, before a bankruptcy filing put a halt to the planned auction. While SignalShare’s operations remain in limbo, the question for the Warriors was, who would provide Wi-Fi at Oracle for the current NBA season?

Cone of silence around Wi-Fi plans

Perhaps predictably, nobody involved in the sticky situation — including the Warriors’ IT staff, or anyone from Extreme Networks, the gear provider in the SignalShare deal — would comment publicly on the state of the lease, or what was to be done with the Wi-Fi at Oracle. Eventually, the Warriors’ PR department did send an email saying there was an “Extreme network” in place for the current season, but would not comment on performance, or about who was footing the bill for any upgrades or for continued operation.

Splash screen that greets first-time Wi-Fi users

Splash screen that greets first-time Wi-Fi users

A request to visit the stadium for an official look at the network was ignored by the Warriors’ PR team, so MSR decided to buy our own tickets to see what the fan Wi-Fi experience was like. What we found was, it’s pretty good, as long as you don’t mind seeing antennas and APs everywhere you look. From our standpoint, it’s always impressive when teams embrace aesthetics and put in network elements that are architecturally hidden; but by that same token, in an old joint like Oracle, fans could probably care less about looks and are probably happy that there’s connectivity. Especially when the building’s not going to be used for Warriors games two seasons from now.

With a good friend of MSR’s now living in Oakland, we got the full locals Warriors experience, starting with some pre-game libations in fun, funky downtown establishments before getting on BART for a quick trip to the Coliseum station. Getting off there we marched across the long bridge (where you can buy bootleg cans of beer and grilled sausages) to the O.Co Coliseum, then walked around the football/baseball venue on the outside to get to the Oracle Arena entrance.

In a long but quick-moving line outside the doors to Oracle, we didn’t detect any Wi-Fi service. But once inside we quickly found the #WarriorsGround SSID and connected, after being greeted by a splash screen that told us that the free Wi-Fi service was being provided by local ISP Sonic. We were asked for an email address to get logged in, and noted that the email marketing program was through SocialSign.in; previously, this was the kind of fan-facing portal service that SignalShare would provide.

Wi-Fi best right under a visible AP

Speedtest in the concourse bar (and the AP that likely delivered it)

Speedtest in the concourse bar (and the AP that likely delivered it)

Stopping in one of the concourse bar areas before heading up to our MSR-budget seats, we got a strong signal on our first test — 62.78 Mbps on the download side, and 69.11 Mbps on the upload — which we were guessing came from the Extreme AP we could see mounted on the wall just next to one of the bar’s TV sets. Walking around the concourse and up to our upper-deck seats, we still got good readings, one at 46.09/25.67 and another at 37.69/21.64, all near visbile APs that looked like they had recently been attached to false-ceiling tiles (some were noticeably hanging at crooked angles).

In our seats — which were located in the middle of the side of the court, about halfway up the section — the Wi-Fi signal dropped off a bit, but we still got a couple solid marks including one in the 9.26/7.45 range. While that’s not considered “screaming fast” or state of the art, it’s more than enough bandwidth to get basic connectivity things done; we had no problem accessing email or other connected apps.

Looking behind us on the stadium walls, we could see what looked like Wi-Fi APs mounted behind the seating areas, pointing back down into the upper-deck sections. We didn’t see any under-seat or handrail-enclosure AP placements, again probably a predictable thing since it’s unlikely the Warriors would pay for more-expensive infrastructure like that for a building they’ll be leaving soon.

Upper concourse AP visible on the ceiling

Upper concourse AP visible on the ceiling

With the eventual win over the visiting Charlotte Hornets well in hand (the Warriors were ahead 108-83 at the end of the third quarter) we left our seats to grab a hot dog back at the bar, where we got a final reading of 63.90 Mbps down and 71.91 Mbps up. With an early fourth-quarter exit we were able to beat the rush to the convenient Uber pickup area (cleverly located about midway through the walk back to BART, giving you that impulse motivation to spend a few bucks to get out faster) where the cell signal was more than strong enough to complete the app-based reservation.

While the deployment wouldn’t make the cover of a fictional “Hidden Antennas” magazine, our one-take guess is that whatever Extreme did to supplement the old SignalShare network is working for now, with all our readings coming during a typical packed house at “Roaracle” Arena. We didn’t test the DAS signal inside the building, but saw enough legacy DAS antennas to make us think that the internal cell network was well deployed; maybe we willl take up the Warriors on one of the multiple email offers they now send us on a regular basis, and will come back during the playoffs for another stress test! (More pictures from our visit below)

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All kinds of fun places in downtown Oakland. Nasty!

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No Wi-Fi out here but the lines moved quickly, and it was easy to scan digital tickets.

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Close-up of that AP in the concourse bar.

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View from our seats — even though the games are all “sellouts” we had no problem buying these the day of the game from the Warriors’ website. $58 each, not bad, right?

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Wi-Fi APs in white line the back wall of the upper deck. There were some blackened units too but the white ones were more numerous.

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It’s always picture time at Oracle during a break in the action.

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Close-up of one of the concourse APs.

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In Uber on the way back to Oakland. See you next time!

Update: Super Bowl LI breaks 37 TB wireless mark

NRG Stadium during Super Bowl LI. Credit: AP / Morry Gash/ Patriots.com

NRG Stadium during Super Bowl LI. Credit: AP / Morry Gash/ Patriots.com

It’s official now, and without any doubt Super Bowl LI broke the single-day wireless data use mark, with at least 37.6 terabytes used.

The official stats for Wi-Fi at NRG Stadium are finally in, with a mark of 11.8 TB, which is a bit more than the 10.1 TB recorded at last year’s Super Bowl at Levi’s Stadium, the previous top mark. The official stats were reported Thursday by Wi-Fi gear provider Extreme Networks, which posted them on the company website.

New DAS records even without any T-Mobile stats

On the cellular side Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint all set new records, with Verizon reporting 11 TB of use and AT&T reporting 9.8 TB, while Sprint (which ran on its own DAS at NRG Stadium) hit 5 TB. At last year’s Super Bowl Verizon (7 TB) and AT&T (5.2 TB) had set their respective previous high-water marks, while Sprint had reported 1.6 TB at Levi’s Stadium. Even without numbers from T-Mobile the current DAS count is 25.8 TB, much higher than the 15.9 TB cellular total from Super Bowl 50.

(Unfortunately, T-Mobile right now is refusing to provide a total data number — a spokesperson who didn’t want to be quoted claimed on a phone call that the total data number was “not relevant,” and that T-Mobile would not provide a final number. However, we did see a blog post from the company claiming it passed its 2.1 TB total from last year by halftime, so at the very least we could probably accurately add at least another 2.2 TB to the overall DAS total. So we may see a combined total of all cellular and Wi-Fi nearing 40 TB before it’s all counted up, approved or not.)

One of our close friends in the business was at the game, and was kind enough to send us a bunch of Wi-Fi speedtests from NRG Stadium (go check our Twitter timeline at @paulkaps to see the tests linked).

What was interesting was watching the speeds go down when “spike” events occurred, like touchdowns and the end of Lady Gaga’s halftime show. The incredible comeback by the New England Patriots to claim a 34-28 overtime victory kept the network busy through the night, and after the game as well during the awards ceremony.

Tom Brady with the Lombardi Trophy. Credit: AP / Patriots.com

Tom Brady with the Lombardi Trophy. Credit: AP / Patriots.com


New record for take rate

According to Extreme, fans at NRG Stadium also set new high-water marks for unique connections to the network as well as for peak concurrent connections. At Super Bowl LI Extreme said it saw 35,430 fans connect to the network, a 49 percent take rate with the attendance of 71,795. Last year at Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium a total of 27,316 fans connected to the network out of 71,088 attending, a 38 percent take rate.

On the peak concurrent-connection side, Super Bowl LI set a new mark with 27,191 fans connected at one time, according to Extreme. At the Super Bowl 50, the top concurrent-connected mark was 20,300.

Extreme also released some social-media statistics, claiming that 1.7 TB of the Wi-Fi total was social media traffic. Leading the way in order of most users to fewer were Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Interestingly, Snapchat consumed almost as much data as Facebook, according to pie graphs in the Extreme infographic, which did not provide any actual numbers for those totals. Extreme also did not report what is typically the highest use of bandwidth in any stadium situation, that being Apple iOS updates and Google Gmail activity.

The NFL, which had its own game-day application for Super Bowl LI, has not released any statistics about app use.

Congrats to all the carriers, integrator 5 Bars and Wi-Fi gear supplier Extreme Networks.

THE NEW TOP 6 FOR WI-FI

1. Super Bowl 51, NRG Stadium, Houston, Feb. 5, 2017: Wi-Fi: 11.8 TB
2. Super Bowl 50, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 7, 2016: Wi-Fi: 10.1 TB
3. WrestleMania 32, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, April 3, 2016: Wi-Fi: 6.77 TB
4. Super Bowl 49, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., Feb. 1, 2015: Wi-Fi: 6.23 TB
5. Alabama vs. Texas A&M, Kyle Field, College Station, Texas, Oct. 17, 2015: Wi-Fi: 5.7 TB
6. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots, AFC Championship Game, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 22, 2017: Wi-Fi: 5.11 TB

THE NEW TOP 4 FOR TOTAL USAGE

1. Super Bowl 51, NRG Stadium, Houston, Feb. 5, 2017: Wi-Fi: 11.8; DAS: 25.8 TB**; Total: 37.6 TB
2. Super Bowl 50, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 7, 2016: Wi-Fi: 10.1 TB; DAS: 15.9 TB; Total: 26 TB
3. Super Bowl XLIX, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., Feb. 1, 2015: Wi-Fi: 6.23 TB; DAS: 6.56 TB**; Total: 12.79 TB**
4. WrestleMania 32, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, April 3, 2016: Wi-Fi: 6.77 TB; DAS: 1.9 TB*; Total: 8.6 TB*

* = AT&T DAS stats only
** = AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint DAS stats only

Verizon goes under concrete to bolster NRG Stadium DAS for Super Bowl LI

Nodes on wheels, or NOWs, provide extra coverage for Verizon Wireless in Houston for Super Bowl LI. Credit: Verizon Wireless

Nodes on wheels, or NOWs, provide extra coverage for Verizon Wireless in Houston for Super Bowl LI. Credit: Verizon Wireless

In a slight twist from its strategy for last year’s Super Bowl, Verizon Wireless has installed DAS antennas underneath the concrete flooring of lower-tier seats at Houston’s NRG Stadium, to provide extra bandwidth for the expected high wireless data usage at Super Bowl LI.

Last year at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., Verizon beefed up its distributed antenna system (DAS) with under-seat antennas it designed specifically for use in stadiums. The idea of mounting antennas under seats, a growing trend in the stadium Wi-Fi world, is gaining traction as another method of bringing signals closer to fans, especially in places (like lower bowl seats) where there are no overhangs or other places to mount gear.

And while Verizon has been preparing for Sunday’s big game at NRG Stadium for years, that didn’t stop the company from “continually tweaking” its network preparations, according to Leo Perreault, executive director of network operations for Verizon’s South Central market, a region that stretches from west of Florida to Arizona, including Houston. In a phone interview this week, Perreault said that Verizon installed the under-concrete antennas during the middle of the 2016 football season, giving the company “some good experience” with the deployment ahead of Sunday’s game.

Under concrete = easier install and maintenance

A view inside the head end room that runs Verizon's NRG Stadium DAS. Credit: Verizon Wireless

A view inside the head end room that runs Verizon’s NRG Stadium DAS. Credit: Verizon Wireless

It might not be well known outside of wireless networking circles, but signals will travel through concrete; many early stadium Wi-Fi designs (and some current ones, including a new network installed at the Pepsi Center in Denver) use antennas mounted under concrete floors, pointing up. Though fixed under-seat antennas can provide better coverage, Perreault said the ease of deployment made putting the additional DAS antennas underneath the floor a better option in Houston.

“This way [under the concrete] is non-intrusive,” Perrault said, noting that the devices are also not affected by stadium power-washing units. The decision may have been influenced by the fact that NRG Stadium’s new Wi-Fi network had a big issue with moisture in under-seat AP placements, forcing a mid-season rip and replace for all the under-seat Wi-Fi APs.

Even though antennas under concrete are not as powerful, Perrault said Verizon is “very pleased with the performance. It’s a good compromise.”

Biggest stadium DAS?

Between the game being the Super Bowl and it being in Texas, there’s no shortage of hyperbole surrounding the game and all its attendant facets, including the network technology. But when Perreault claims that the DAS Verizon has installed for NRG Stadium “might be the largest we have anywhere,” that might be true since it also serves adjacent properties including the NRG Convention Center, the NRG Arena and an outdoor DAS in the surrounding spaces. In addition to Houston Texans games, NRG Park (which includes the stadium) is also host to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which humbly bills itself as the “world’s largest livestock show and richest regular-season rodeo.”

An alien spaceship, or a temporary cell tower from Verizon? You choose.

An alien spaceship, or a temporary cell tower from Verizon? You choose.

Inside NRG Stadium, Perreault said the new Verizon DAS (built before the 2015 season) has more than 900 antennas. As neutral host, Verizon will also provide access to AT&T and T-Mobile on its network; Sprint, which built a previous DAS at NRG, will continue to run on that system.

Outside the stadium and around Houston, Verizon has done the usual big-event preparations, with lots of permanent and temporary macro network improvements, and portable units like COWs (cells on wheels) and smaller NOWs (nodes on wheels). You can review all the Verizon preparations in a company blog post.

As previously reported in MSR, Verizon also helped foot part of the bill for the new NRG Stadium Wi-Fi network, a deal that will give Verizon a reserved claim to 40 percent of the Wi-Fi network’s capacity, according to Perreault.

Whether or not Super Bowl LI breaks the wireless data consumption records set at last year’s game remains to be seen, but Perreault said there doesn’t seem to be any slowing down yet of the perpetual growth in wireless data use at stadiums, especially at big events like the Super Bowl.

“Fans just seem to find ways to consume whatever additional bandwidth you provide,” he said.