Costanzo cleared in SignalShare lawsuit

Joe Costanzo, the former chief technology officer for SignalShare, has been cleared of any legal entanglements in that company’s ongoing lawsuit issues according to a new filing in the case.

Last year, NFS Leasing sued SignalShare for $7.8 million over alleged fradulent leases, a case now tied up in SignalShare’s subsequent bankruptcy proceedings. Costanzo, who primarily ran the technical operations of the stadium Wi-Fi leasing operator, was personally named by NFS in the lawsuit along with other SignalShare executives; Costanzo, however, claimed he was misled by his own company and had filed counter-claims against NFS.

A new document from the United States District Court in the District of Massachusetts said that NFS Leasing has dismissed all of its claims against Costanzo “without costs to either party.” Costanzo, who had filed a counter-claim against NFS, also dismissed his action.

Costanzo also apparently reached an agreement with the former SignalShare, according to a legal document filed by a company called M2 nGage, which was formed out of the remnants of SignalShare. According to the document, “Any disputes between Costanzo, the SPHC Parties and SignalShare were settled pursuant to a settlement agreement executed between the parties. Pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the parties mutually released each other from any claims and SPHC agreed to pay Joseph Costanzo $92,000 over a period of a year associated with amounts due.”

NFS Leasing did not respond to an email inquiry for more information.

NFL Wi-Fi update: Cox Business signs tech deal with Arizona Cardinals; Panasonic replaces Extreme at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field

The Arizona Cardinals and Cox Business announced a new multi-year agreement that makes Cox Business the “exclusive technology solutions provider” for the team and its home stadium, the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The new deal sees Cox Business replacing CDW as the main integrator for technology deployments at UoP Stadium, a venue that regularly sees big-time audiences for NFL games, Super Bowls, and the Fiesta Bowl.

While the Cardinals and Cox Business have been partners since 2006, the new deal calls for Cox Business to add in support and development of the stadium’s Wi-Fi and networking infrastructure, as well as to provide technical support. Previously, CDW handled those tasks at UoP Stadium.

On the other side of the country, Panasonic’s nascent big-venue Wi-Fi business got a win when the Philadelphia Eagles selected Panasonic to replace the Extreme Networks Wi-Fi deployment inside Philly’s Lincoln Financial Field this offseason. Though the Eagles declined to comment on the new deployment to MSR at this time, John Pawling, the team’s vice president of information, had this to say in a Panasonic press release:

“Upgrading Lincoln Financial Field’s Wi-Fi network is all part of our team’s ongoing commitment to providing the best in-game experience for our fans,” Pawling said in what Panasonic said was a prepared statement. “Our hope is that by staying ahead of the curve and collaborating with global leaders like Panasonic, we will have the ability to take the fan experience to the next level.”

Extreme, whose gear is currently used in nine other NFL venues, was part of a Wi-Fi deployment at the Linc done back in 2013, part of at $125 million renovation done at that time. Neither Extreme nor the Eagles would comment about the switch to Panasonic.

Nuggets game visit shows Wi-Fi solid at Denver’s Pepsi Center

Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver’s Pepsi Center, April 9, 2017. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

About one year into its existence, the fan-facing Wi-Fi network at Denver’s Pepsi Center seems to be in fine working order, at least as far as we could tell by a visit during the last Denver Nuggets home game of the just-finished NBA regular season.

With speed tests showing download speeds of almost 70 Mbps in one spot on the concourse and solid, high-teens numbers in upper deck seats, the Avaya-built public Wi-Fi network allowed us to stay connected at all times. We even watched live video of The Masters golf tournament online while watching Oklahoma City beat Denver in a heartbreaking ending for the Nuggets’ home season, when Thunder star Russell Westbrook capped a 50-point performance with a long 3-pointer that won the game and eliminated Denver from playoff contention.

While we got good speed tests last summer when we toured an empty Pepsi Center, we had no idea how the network would perform under live, full-house conditions, but the Nuggets’ home closer gave us some proof points that the Wi-Fi was working fine. One test on the concourse (in full view of some overhead APs) checked in at 69.47 Mbps for download and 60.96 for upload; another concourse test on the upper deck got numbers of 37.18 / 38.30.

A look from our seats into the rafters, where (we think) we see Wi-Fi APs

In our MSR-budget upper-deck seats (we did not request media access to the game but instead bought tickets like any other fan) we still got solid Wi-Fi numbers, with one test at 15.04 Mbps / 21.44 Mbps and another in the same spot at 17.40 / 16.27. We didn’t see any APs under the seats — according to the Pepsi Center IT staff some of the bowl seats are served by APs shooting up through the concrete (see picture for one possible such location). Looking up we did see some APs hanging from the roof rafters, so perhaps it’s a bit of both.

What’s unclear going forward is who will supply the network for any upgrades, since Avaya is in the process of selling its networking business to Extreme Networks, which has its own Wi-Fi gear and a big stadium network business. For now, it seems like attendees at Nuggets, Avalanche and other Pepsi Center events are covered when it comes to connectivity. Better defense against Westbrook, however, will have to wait until next season.

Upper level concourse APs at Pepsi Center; are these shooting up through the concrete?

Even at the 300 seating level, you have a good view of the court.

Taking the RTD express bus from Boulder is a convenient if crowded option (there was also a Rockies game that day at nearby Coors Field, making the bus trips SRO in both directions)

Who knew Pepsi was found inside mountains? (this photo taken last summer)

Seahawks see big jump in Wi-Fi usage at CenturyLink Field for 2016-17 season

Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 1.11.24 PMThe Seattle Seahawks saw almost every metric associated with the Wi-Fi network at CenturyLink Field just about double from the 2015-16 to the 2016-17 NFL regular season, according to statistics provided by the team.

Chip Suttles, vice president of technology for the Seahawks, sent us over some excellent season-long charts of Wi-Fi activity, including unique and concurrent-user peaks, top throughput, and a couple of comparison charts mapping this most recent season’s activity compared to that a year before.

With a capacity crowd attendance total of 69,000, the always sold-out CenturyLink saw a take rate nearing 50 percent for most of the season, with a top unique-user number of 35,808 for a Nov. 7 31-25 win over the Buffalo Bills. Interestingly, the biggest day for total data usage wasn’t the Bills game (3.259 terabytes) but a 26-15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 20, when the Wi-Fi network saw 3.526 TB of data used. If you look at the comparitive graphs, both peak usage and total usage numbers pretty much doubled down on what was seen the year before.

According to Suttles, there wasn’t much in the way of upgrades to the Extreme Networks-based network before this past season — just some firmware and software updates, and “about a half-dozen” new APs to support additional seating added in the south end zone area. “Overall, I think it [the data increases] is more to do with familiarity,” Suttles said. Thanks to Chip and the Seahawks for sharing the numbers!

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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!

Super Bowl LI Wi-Fi sees drop in average per-fan use total

Under seat Wi-Fi APs visible down seating row at NRG Stadium. Credit: 5 Bars

Under seat Wi-Fi APs visible down seating row at NRG Stadium. Credit: 5 Bars

While Super Bowl LI in Houston set records for most total Wi-Fi used in a single day event, the actual amount of average Wi-Fi data used per connected fan actually dropped from the previous year’s game, from about 370 megabytes per user at Super Bowl 50 to about 333 MB per user for Super Bowl 51.

Using official totals provided by the NFL’s official analytics provider, Extreme Networks, there was a total of 11.8 TB of data used on the Wi-Fi network at NRG Stadium in Houston during Super Bowl 51, compared to 10.1 TB used during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

While the total Wi-Fi data number represents approximately a 17 percent increase from Super Bowl 50 to Super Bowl 51, the most recent game had 35,430 users who connected at least once to the network, an almost 30 percent leap from Super Bowl 50’s 27,316 unique users. So while Super Bowl 51 had more unique users (and more peak concurrent users as well) and a higher data total, the average amount of data used per connected fan decreased, from about 370 MB per user to about 333 MB per user.

Data for Super Bowls in years past is thin (mainly because stadium Wi-Fi didn’t really exist), but it’s certainly the first time in very recent history that the per-user average has dropped from one Super Bowl to the next. Super Bowl 49, held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., saw a total of 6.23 TB of Wi-Fi used, with 25,936 unique users, for a per-user average total of 240 MB. We don’t have any stats for unique users at Super Bowl XLVIII in MetLife Stadium, but with the total Wi-Fi used there at 3.2 TB the average was also presumably much lower as well, unless there were also 50 percent fewer connected users.

Did autoconnect drop the average?

Wi-Fi gear visible above concourse kiosk at NRG Stadium. Credit: 5 Bars

Wi-Fi gear visible above concourse kiosk at NRG Stadium. Credit: 5 Bars

The drop in per-user average data for Wi-Fi is curious when compared to the huge leap in overall DAS stats for the last two Super Bowls, with Super Bowl 51 checking in at 25.8 TB of data, a figure that does not include statistics from T-Mobile, which is declining to report its data total from the game. At Super Bowl 50, all four top wireless carriers combined saw 15.9 TB, so the total for Super Bowl 51 is about 62 percent higher — and if you add in the estimated 3-4 TB that was likely recorded by T-Mobile, that leap is even bigger.

Unfortunately cellular carriers do not provide the exact number of connected users, so there is no per-user average data total available. It would be interesting to know if the expanded DAS preparations made at Super Bowl 50 and at Super Bowl 51 actually connected more total users, or allowed users to use more data per user. We have a request with Verizon for more stats, but it may be a long wait.

One theory we have here at MSR is that it’s possible that a large number of autoconnected devices may have increased the unique-user total while not necessarily adding to the overall Wi-Fi data-used total. In our reporting about the NRG Stadium network we noted that Verizon, which helped pay for the Wi-Fi deployment, had reserved 40 percent of the Wi-Fi capacity for its customers, many of whom could have been autoconnected to the network even without them knowing. We have asked both Extreme and Verizon for a breakdown on Verizon users vs. other wireless customer users on the Wi-Fi network, but have not yet received a response.