MSR Profile: Stadiums a Target for Wi-Fi Gear Maker Xirrus

Add Wi-Fi gear maker Xirrus to the expanding list of technology providers targeting stadium owners who are looking to better serve the wireless needs of both the fans sitting in the seats, as well stadium owners looking for wireless applications to help run their business better.

Like networking giant Cisco, which has created an entire business unit dedicated to stadium installations, the relative newcomer Xirrus is going to aggressively pursue more stadium clients this year, according to Steven Wastie, chief marketing officer for Xirrus. Last year Xirrus’s high-performance wireless network arrays (the antennas and other gear that provide the wireless link between Wi-Fi user and the network) helped bring video services and Wi-Fi power to business applications inside Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.

In a snappy video (embedded below) you get not only a customer’s explanation of the benefits Wi-Fi can bring to teams (wirelessly enabling point of sale systems allows for greater building flexibility), but also a quick data point on why you need Wi-Fi to provide features like video highlights — the Patriots’ content guy talks about how each video highlight stream takes up 300K of bandwidth, something that would be nearly impossible to provide using cellular airwaves.

The Xirrus xr4000, which can fit up to 8 wireless radios into its smoke detector-like housing. Other arrays can fit as few as two or as many as 16 radios.

The edge Xirrus brings to the stadium Wi-Fi game is its “high density” arrays, which can fit up to 16 wireless radios into a single device and are highly configurable especially directionally. By comparison, the wireless router in your home or business probably has just two antennas, which are pretty much just set to broadcast out in a circle as far as they can reach.

Being able to have more throughput per device, Wastie said, is key for stadium deployments where there are a lot of people in one place, all trying to do the same thing on their mobile device. “It’s very different from just two years ago,” Wastie said in a recent interview. “Back then high density situations were a niche. Now high density is everywhere.”

Having arrays that support more users also gives Xirrus a technology edge over competitors, since it can cover a stadium with fewer devices and less network infrastructure — often meaning significantly lower costs. Mobile Sports Report will be watching Xirrus closely throughout 2012, to see if its less-is-more wireless message gets across to stadium owners and operators.

Founded in 2004 by CEO Dirk Gates and some of his pals from chip manufacturer Xircom, the Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Xirrus is privately held.


  1. […] its duty in a Tour de France press room. Credit: Xirrus.Just like Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, Wi-Fi gear vendor Xirrus had a pretty good Tour de France, as its wireless arrays finished off a successful string of […]

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