After hinting about a relationship earlier this year, the San Francisco 49ers and networking vendor Brocade made it official Tuesday, announcing Brocade as the “exclusive and official network solutions partner of the San Francisco 49ers.” Though no details on the exact buildout are yet available, Brocade Chief Technical Officer Dave Stevens told MSR in a phone interview Tuesday that Brocade will be responsible for the “entire wired and wireless network infrastructure” for the new Niners stadium currently being built in Santa Clara.
We’ll break out more details from our interview with Stevens next week but the bottom line is, he says Brocade knows that this stadium will have to live up to a higher standard because of its location smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley. That means the Niners and Brocade will aim for building the best Wi-Fi and cellular fan network that can be built, as well as a wireless network to run other stadium apps like signage, ticketing, security and more.
“The Niners and Brocade are looking for an unprecedented network experience,” Stevens said. What that will be is a bit of a moving target, since the stadium won’t be ready for a couple years at the earliest. While technology changes and improvements will affect deployments some, Stevens said you can probably count on Wi-Fi equipment that embraces the nascent 802.11ac standard, which supports much higher data rates than current Wi-Fi gear. As we said, more from our interview next week.
If there’s a loser right now in the game it’s Cisco, which like Brocade has its headquarters in the same San Jose/Santa Clara neighborhood as the stadium. (Cisco’s HQ is literally just down the street.) With a business unit dedicated to building out stadium networks, Cisco might have been seen as a lock for the bid and even earlier this month had hinted rather strongly that they wouldn’t be shut out of the Niners’ new stadium, which has a long list of corporate sponsors on its roster, like SAP, whose name is on the practice center. Maybe there will be some room for Cisco on the digital signage part of the buildout? Cisco reps contacted Tuesday had the “no comment” light on, but from the looks of it this Brocade deal doesn’t seem to leave much room for any Cisco gear. But it ain’t over until the access points get connected, or something like that.
Ericsson Intros Stadium-Specific Wi-Fi Gear
Telecom supplier Ericsson Tuesday announced a set of stadium-specific Wi-Fi gear, the first new products coming out of the company’s acquisition of Wi-Fi specialist BelAir Networks earlier this year. According to the press release, Ericsson now has a Wi-Fi access point and a Wi-Fi controller designed specifically for stadium use. Since Ericsson sells mainly to big telecom companies like Verizon and AT&T, look for this year to be used side by side with small-cell cellular technology as the big carriers continue their quest to make fans’ phones work in stadiums worldwide.
AT&T Adds 4G LTE DAS to… Some Stadium in Foxboro
From the “we can’t tell you but you can figure it out file” comes a press release from AT&T today telling us of the company’s newest DAS upgrade, a 4G LTE implementation that will make fans’ cell phones work better in… a football stadium in Foxboro, Mass. Yep, because of stadium naming rights AT&T apparently can’t use the name of the place but… we are under no such restrictions. So unless there is a spaceship stadium that landed during the night we are guessing that New England Patriots fans will find their AT&T iPhones connecting a bit better now.