Stadium Tech Report: AT&T brings Wi-Fi and IPTV to Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 12.36.29 PMThe University of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium, a facility built before those things called telephones were in widespread use, is finally getting the technology it needs to let current-day mobile devices stay connected: A high-speed Wi-Fi network and a stadium-wide IPTV system, which will both be deployed by AT&T before the first kickoff this fall.

While few people probably had any kind of working telephone when Camp Randall was built in Madison, Wisc., in 1917, things are a lot different now, as most people own at least one mobile device. Prior to this season, visitors to the 80,321-seat Camp Randall experienced the frustration familiar to many who visit crowded public spaces: the dreaded “no signal” notice, or calls or texts that went nowhere.

“If you worked in the stadium, on game days it was hard to get online, or even send a text,” said Justin Doherty, Wisconsin’s associate athletic director for external relations, in a recent phone interview. According to Doherty, recent fan surveys showed that improving wireless service was a top request. After issuing an RFP, Wisconsin chose AT&T as its partner in the reported $6.2 million networking project, which will also include the deployment of 700 high-definition TV screens throughout the stadium. On the Wi-Fi side, AT&T will provide a 10 Gigabit backbone connection and will install approximately 750 Wi-Fi access points throughout the facility.

Wi-Fi access point at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: University of Wisconsin

Wi-Fi access point at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: University of Wisconsin

Combining Wi-Fi with DAS

Though AT&T executives have stated publicly that DAS can sometimes take care of all the connectivity needs in a stadium, the phone provider giant also said that installing DAS and Wi-Fi together can create “the optimal user experience” by allowing both technologies to do what they are best at. In the stadium network world, that usually means allowing DAS to handle simpler communications like phone calls and texts, while allowing Wi-Fi to handle heavier bandwidth loads, like streaming video.

In a somewhat interesting twist, AT&T — which has deployed numerous DAS systems in stadiums — does not run the DAS at Camp Randall Stadium. According to Doherty, the Camp Randall DAS is run by Crown Castle, with AT&T and Verizon as customers. The AT&T Wi-Fi installation, however, will significantly increase the amount of available wireless bandwidth, taking a lot of congestion away from the cellular network as a critical first task.

Beyond providing pure bandwidth, Wisconsin doesn’t yet have solid plans on how it expects to use the Wi-Fi network. Doherty said that innovative ideas like instant replay and food-ordering apps being installed at some other venues are things Wisconsin will be looking to deploy in the near future.

“There’s a lot on the plate, but we want to walk before we run,” Doherty said. “We’re going to be in a little bit of a learning mode [early on], trying to understand how to run the network. By the seventh game [this season] we should be a lot better.” According to Wisconsin and AT&T, the network is expected to be ready by the time of the first home game this season, Sept. 6 vs. Western Illinois.

AT&T taps Cisco for Wi-Fi and video

IPTV install at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: University of Wisconsin

IPTV install at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: University of Wisconsin

Though it wasn’t spelled out in the press release, Doherty said that AT&T will be using Cisco Wi-Fi hardware, along with Cisco’s StadiumVision system to provide the video feeds to the in-house digital displays. One of the features of the StadiumVision system that is of great interest to Doherty is the ability for administrators to split the screen in different ways, such as including an L-shaped advertising border around the edges. Though in the future that might be used to sell advertising, Doherty said Wisconsin will most likely use the displays to promote other sports.

“You might see a game feed on the main part of the screen, and then in the L-wrap area we might promote ticket sales for hockey games,” Doherty said. “We also might use it for social media feeds. We’re going to be heavy on internal messaging this fall.”

According to Doherty, the Wisconsin IT team scouted some other school and pro facilities to get ideas of how to best implement wireless deployments. Among the venues visited were the Rodgers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays, and Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, home of the Denver Broncos.

“All those people we visited were very helpful,” Doherty said. “You have to pull little pieces from what they have done, and make it your own.”

And then, you have to let the fans know that it’s OK to try to use their phones in one of the nation’s oldest sporting facilities.

“We want people to know the network is there, and we’re going to actively promote it,” Doherty said. “We’ll have signage and we have a good greeting services staff who will be armed with the information on how to get on the network. We’re going to do everything we can to get people connected.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Aruba Networks as the Wi-Fi gear provider for the Camp Randall Stadium project. MSR regrets the error.

Wi-Fi APs seen above the seating area. Credit: University of Wisconsin.

Wi-Fi APs seen above the seating area. Credit: University of Wisconsin.

Would Proposed A La Carte Cable Bill Hurt Sports Channels?


Senator John McCain is introducing a bill that would enable cable companies to offer subscribers the ability to select which channels they would watch, and pay for and allow them to relegate the remainder to the waste bin.

The push is not his first try at this, he had a similar bill back in 2006 that did go very far, and the new effort, called the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 is designed to encourage the cable companies to offer freedom of choice for their customers.

ESPN and its related channels and packages are one of the more expensive set of channels available, and currently if you get basic cable a nice chunk of your bill gets sent to them. This in turn has allowed it to have a war chest that has seen it increase its power in the sports world by buying broadcast rights. If this passed and a large number of people opted out of its sports channels it would be weakened.

Also the growing number of league channels would also be potentially harmed as well. The rise of the SEC, PAC-12 and other dedicated networks has been helped by their channels getting bundled with other properties, something that the bill would outlaw. Would you pay extra year round to have a network that may broadcast only one sport that you are interested in?

However one interesting thing about the bill is that the unfettering would be voluntary, but does include some incentives to get the major players on board. There are a few sections that do appear to have some teeth in them. One of which is if networks pull their on the air broadcasts and put them on cable they would be stripped of their spectrum and the spectrum would then be sold by the FCC.

There are some other interesting tidbits in the bill including a provision that would prohibit television blackouts at publicly funded stadiums or even stadiums that have used some public funds. I am pretty sure that includes all of the NFL stadiums.

This type of a la carte push has been strongly resisted by both broadcasters and content providers and they will likely launch a strong effort to kill the bill or to at least remove its few teeth.

Friday Grab Bag: Lots of NFL News and New iPhone 5 Next Week?

iPhone 5?

If you are a betting person it looks like a safe bet would be that Apple will be taking the wraps off of its next generation iPhone, the so-called iPhone 5. The company has started sending out press invites for an event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on that date.

Originally it was believed that Apple would also introduce its next generation iPad at the same event but it now appears that the company will host a different event within the next month to launch that product.

Intel takes another shot at ARM
Intel has long coveted the handheld processor market but has been pretty well shut out of it by market leader ARM and its allies. Next week at its annual Intel Developer Forum the company is expected to fire its latest salvo in its battle.

It is expected to unveil a chip code-named Haswell that has been designed as a solution for developers that are seeking an ultra power-efficient chip, according to C/net. The company is seeking to make inroads in both the tablet and smartphone space with the processor, which is not expected until the second half of 2013.

Earn Rewards for Activity on
Are you always reading articles and commenting on them at the web site? Well now you can earn rewards for doing just that as the NFL Digital Media has launched a program entitled NFL Fans Reward.

Reading and commenting are not the only ways to earn rewards as a number of other activities are included including watching video or participating in what it calls Drives. The rewards are in the form of virtual coins that can be redeemed at the Rewards store.

Does Fantasy Football really cost employers $5.6 B?
That at least is the result of a study by Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas which made its estimation based on how much time employees spend on managing their fantasy rosters and general goofing off related to the fantasy team.

The report estimates that there are 22.3 million employees engaged in fantasy football and you can go to their site to see the overall math. I know reports like this come out each spring during March Madness and they tend to get rebutted by other studies that show that employees simply switch topics that they goof off on as the year progresses. So take the report with a grain of salt.

New smartphone rollouts from Nokia, Motorola beat Apple to the market
It used to be that hardware developers looked at the calendar and set their next product rollout based on the age of their current offerings as well as where the year is in relation to top selling season. Now it seems that the goal is to beat a rival to making waves with an announcement.

This week Nokia debuted a few new Windows 8 phones while Motorola Mobility unleashed 3 new phones, it’s first under Google. Why this week you ask? Apple is expected to release the new iPhone next week and they wanted to beat it to the punch. Of course Samsung seems to release products when it wants to and its Galaxy IIIS has already sold 20 million units.

Newbie to Twitter and want to follow the NFL? No problem!
Twitter has kindly provided a guide at its Blog for users that want to follow the NFL on Twitter. You would really have t be new to Twitter to not already know how to use the features but still it is a good idea because I know several people that have signed up for the service and then seem paralyzed when called on to use it.

Sports Illustrated takes the guessing out of NFL football broadcasting
The nice people at Sports Illustrated have taken the time to pour over all of the broadcasting teams, including personnel additions and subtractions, and made all of that information available in a nice little piece that can be found here.

I am not sure if the broadcasting teams are listed in order of how big a game that they will be broadcasting but I suspect that the top teams head each list. Also does ESPN really believe that we need two hosts, six analysts, seven reporters and a features person for its pregame show? Sometimes more is not better. And am I the only person that thinks with each passing season Jon Gruden looks more and more like Roger Goodell?

Speaking of Football, How cheap is your NFL team?
Profootballtalk ran a nice little piece showing how much each team in the NFL is under the salary cap. I was surprised at some of the results but expected a few teams that were in the top ten. Take a look and see why your team does not have a shut down corner.

Then hop over to ESPN and see how your teams’ ticket rices compare to the rest of the league. I was surprised that the NY Jets have not taken over the top spot in this area. Average cost is $78.38 and the average cost of a beer is $7.28.

Big 12 to sign $2.6 billion TV deal
The Big 12 is about to finalize broadcasting deals with ESPN and Fox Sports that will result in a $2.6 billion over the next 13 years, or approximately $200 million a year. Even for college that is real money!

Pac-12-Networks, Ooyala release Pac-12 Now for iPad

Pac-12 Now for iPad opens up multi-screen viewing

The Pac-12 via its Pac-12 Networks continues to move to enhance its presence in the digital world and with partner Ooyala has now delivered an iPad app that will enable fans to watch both live and video on demand games (VOD).

The app, Pac-12 Now for iPad, is one of the first efforts from the recently formed Pac-12 Networks, an organization that is designed to bring both broadcast and streaming sports and entertainment to fans, in conjunction with its partner Ooyala. Pac-12 Now for iPad is available in the iTunes Store and on

Ooyala developed what it calls a graphic interactive program guide (IPG) that enables users to customize the app to meet their individual preferences. It allows a user to prioritize both sports and teams during setup and has a chat feature so that fans can share comments and thoughts when viewing live action via Facebook and Twitter feeds that are enabled next to the video feed so that you do not have to switch to a different app while viewing.

Going forward the IPG will also feature the ability to alert users to events that are currently live and inform them on issues such as games that are tied, close or near the final moments as well as provide social feedback via a social graph that you can ac


The two plan on continuing to expand the technology so that users with PCs, tablets and smartphones will be able to watch games when not in front of a television or to use it as a second screen, watching two events at the same time. Android is the next platformed targeted and it should be out soon.

The goal is to broadcast 850 live and VOD sporting events over the year as well analysis and commentary, statistics, press conferences, documentaries and other content. By connecting it directly to social media such as Facebook and Twitter it enables a degree of participation for fans that a simple broadcast would not allow.

Aside from the IPG Ooyala also provided what it calls a Stat Server. The Stat Server automatically imports sports stats and timecode data from third parties and tags that with live and VOD content. This enables users to search by stats or event tags and allows the information to be displayed at the proper time when an event is being viewed, regardless if it is live or VOD. The authentication is designed to make it easy to view content across multiple connected devices.

It is very interesting to look at all of the ways in which colleges are reaching out to fans and getting both sports and academic advancements out to alumni and fans. Recently the ACC added YouTube to its digital network. The Big Ten Network has already expanded out to digital devices and recently added Android support.

This is just great for fans, not just mobile ones but also fans of multiple teams or sports-they can now watch a game on a mobile device while also catching a different one on the TV or a computer, enabling them to easily stay abreast with events in areas that interest them.


YouTube Deal Will Enhance ACC’s Digital Network

The Atlantic Coast Conference’s digital network has introduced a channel on YouTube that will deliver live content from the ACC as YouTube continues to grow as a force in live sports broadcasting with deals such as this.

We have long talked about the emergence of YouTube as a de facto channel for sports, and YouTube has been working hard to cement that position with the ACC deal as one of its more notable deals. However in case you missed it will also be serving up some nice Olympic moments via a deal with NBC that will enable it to show highlights and live events from the London Olympics.

The ACC and YouTube have been partners to a degree for several years and provided exclusive, but not live content at its site since at least 2009, however this takes it a significant step further.

Between that time and now the ACC started a deal with Silver Chalice that enabled it to launch the ACC Digital Network that provided broad coverage of the ACC schools including news conferences, highlights and analysis that could be delivered to both Apple and Android mobile devices.

Now it will also present live events as well as on demand videos that are created by the ACC as well as a live weekly studio program during football and basketball season. There will also be condensed replays of ACC Network productions of football and basketball games.

The current deal will call for the ACC to provide fan access and interaction to its analysts via Google’s Google Hangout. Fans can view, comment upon and share the programming by visiting, or by searching for ACC Digital Network on YouTube.

Of course others are also working on attracting digital partners. The Big Ten Networks recently expanded to support Android in its broadcast and the Pac-12 is increasingly involved in digital media. Still it is nice that the ACC will be presenting live sports to its fan base and other interested parties.

Friday Grab Bag: Bannister returns, Big Ten embraces Android

A sip of soda cost Ronaldinho $1.57m?
Apparently drinking the wrong soda can be costly as Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldinho found out. He appeared at a press conference for his new team, Atletico Mineiro sipping a Pepsi, which happens to be one of the teams’ sponsors.

However Coca-Cola happens to be one of Ronaldinho’s sponsors, with a deal valued at $1.57 million. Apparently the powers that be at Coke’s headquarters were less than pleased and canceled his contract.

Big Ten moves to Android

The Big Ten Network has expanded its mobile reach with the release of BTN2Go for Android. The app, which enables subscribers to the Big Ten Network via their cable supplier, to view a huge range of sports on smartphones, tablets and via the web.

They will be able to watch live feed of all of the networks programming that includes more than 40 football games and 100 men’s basketball games among the hundreds of programs. The app is available at Google Play.

2/3 of new mobile buyers opt for smartphones, Nielsen says
The latest newsletter from Nielsen Wire shows that the in the second quarter of 2012 smartphone growth has continued unabated. Currently 54.9% of all US mobile phone subscribes now use a smartphone as of its June 2012 study.

Two out of every three new phone purchases were a smartphone during the last three months. According to the survey Android is the operating system of choice with 51.8% of all users adopting that platform while 34.3% use an iPhone from Apple.

Despite past results RIM Exec takes upbeat view
Research in Motion has seen things go from bad to worse as it reports losses, declining customer base and delays in its next generation smartphone, a product that it is hoping will bring it out of the doldrums that surround the company.

However there is a light cutting through the clouds according to Frank Boulben, RIM’s chief marketing officer said that the late delivery of its BlackBerry 10, after the important Holiday shopping season, will actually benefit the company as it will allow carriers to prepare and allow it to have the spotlight to itself.

Microsoft/Motorola Patent tiff on hold

Microsoft and Motorola have decided to wait until the hearing over Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing obligations is heard later this year before continuing their patent lawsuits against each other.

While this will slow the lawsuit issue to a degree it does not affect any potential ruling by the International Trade Commission on two complaints involving the two companies, according to a piece in Electronista.

Microsoft is also aiming at Apple- Shock

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer has said that it is a new day at Microsoft and that its Surface tablet will be taking on all comers, including Apple, vowing not to leave any market segments uncontested to its rival.

According to an exclusive in CRN Ballmer said that the company and its partners had ceded some areas in the high tech space to Apple and its innovative ways. Areas that Microsoft plans to now more fiercely compete include the consumer cloud and in the area of hardware/software innovation, he said.

It is interesting that one of the reasons Apple is still around as a company is because Microsoft invested $150 million in 1997, a deal that eventually netted Microsoft almost 19 million shares of Apple stock for an average cost of about $9 per share. Microsoft has since sold the stock.

NBC has an Olympic app-if you are a subscriber
NBC Olympics has developed the NBC Olympics Live Extra app that will enable users to watch every event live, which will run to an estimated 3,500 hours of coverage, according to a report from Michael Hiestand in USA Today.

The app will be available for Apple’s iPad and iPhone platforms as well as some Android devices. However NBC will only allow access to viewers who get NBC’s MSNBC and CNBC channels — that’s about 100 million households out of the 114 million total U.S. TV households.

London Olympics salutes Roger Bannister
Roger Bannister, now Sir Robert Bannister, the first man to break the sub-4 minute mile barrier carried the Olympic torch on the track where he broke the record 58 years ago. As part of the relay for the torch as it arrived in London he walked on the track and then handed it off. There is speculation that he will be selected to light the cauldron to start the Olympics.

Tablets continue to erode PC sales
Market research firm Gartner has reported that for the seventh consecutive quarter sales of PCs have continued a trend of anemic growth as demand lessens in favor of tablets. However it notes that economic weakness in both the US and Europe are also contributing to the poor demand.

According to the company sales in the second quarter were 87.5 million units with Hewlett-Packard the market leader followed by Lenovo and Dell.

Social news site Digg sold
Once high flyer Digg, a social news site, was a top destination on the Internet and it saw its valuation numbers soar with its popularity, but as with many popular sites, its appeal waned and viewership fell off as other newer technologies took its place.

The drop appears to now be complete as the site has been sold for $500,000 to Betaworks, which gains the site and its technology, which will be incorporated into a new unit that Betaworks will announce in the future, according to the New York Times.