Verizon hits 20+ TB in cellular traffic for Indy 500 weekend

Fans stream into Gasoline Alley at the Indy 500. Credit: Verizon Wireless

Fans stream into Gasoline Alley at the Indy 500. Credit: Verizon Wireless

As Verizon Wireless expected, fans at the Indianapolis 500 race weekend used more than 20 terabytes of wireless data on the Verizon networks in and around the famed Brickyard track, more than doubling the data used in 2015. Though Verizon had predicted and prepared for the data onslaught, it’s still incredible to think that wireless data use at big events is still doubling every year. How much higher can it go?

For the actual day of this year’s Indy 500 race, Verizon said it saw more than 10 TB of data on its networks; last year on the race day Verizon saw 3.16 TB of data. For the full weekend, the exact total from Verizon was 20.8 TB; last year, the total for the entire weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday events) was more than 9 TB.

According to Verizon, the two highest data usage moments were the start of the race (at 12:19 p.m. local time), followed by another traffic spike at 1:15 p.m., when Juan Pablo Montoya’s car crashed. We haven’t seen an exact attendance number, but various sources said well over 350,000 fans attended this year’s race, the 100th in Indy 500 history.

Verizon doubles down on wireless coverage for Indy 500; expects near 20 TB on race weekend

Screen shot of Verizon IndyCar app showing live action.

Screen shot of Verizon IndyCar app showing live action.

This year’s Indianapolis 500 is sure to be well-attended, given it’s the 100th running of the grand old race. To make sure fans there have solid wireless connectivity during the event, Verizon Wireless said it basically doubled its capacity from last year, in anticipation of a doubling of data use during the “bucket list” day at the Brickyard.

According to Verizon, last year fans at Indy used more than 9 terabytes of data on Verizon wireless networks during the race weekend, which include the track’s only DAS (distributed antenna system) and some temporary cell sites. For the 2016 race, Verizon said it has installed “100 percent more capacity to the IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway_ track and immediate surrounding area,” including 16 small cell sites around the track’s exterior, replacing some of the need for temporary towers like cells on wheels or cells on trucks.

In addition, Verizon has brought to Indy three “custom-designed” cells-on-a-platform or COPs, each of which “has the capacity equivalent to 7 temporary cell sites known as COWs (cell-on-wheels),” Verizon said.

A "cell on platform," or COP, installed at Indy

A “cell on platform,” or COP, installed at Indy

On race day itself in 2015, Verizon said it saw 3.16 TB of data used on its network, which was more than double to 1.4 TB Verizon saw in 2014. The full weekend of racing from Friday through Sunday’s 100th running of the Indy 500 includes popular events like Carb day on Friday, and a Legends Day and concerts on Saturday.

IndyCar app will use LTE Multicast to show live race views

Verizon customers will also have access to live race feeds via the IndyCar mobile app, which will use LTE Multicast technology to provide one-to-many live video streams over dedicated LTE bandwidth. Verizon said it will have cameras for the feeds installed on “at least” 12 cars in the race, and will have simulataneous broadcast from inside two of the cars. Like with NFL Mobile, Verizon’s exclusive deal with the Indy 500 means that you will need to be a Verizon subscriber to see the live action via the IndyCar app.

Indianapolis Speedway adds Verizon DAS

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500. Credit all photos: IMS Photo.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500. Credit all photos: IMS Photo.

It’s still a work in progress, but Verizon Wireless customers who attend this year’s Indianapolis 500 race should see improved cellular communications, thanks to a DAS buildout currently underway.

According to Rhonda Winter, CIO for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Verizon was recently selected to build a neutral-host DAS which will add more than 200 internal and external antennas to the speedway’s main stands and buildings. While other carriers are slated to join the DAS in the future, only Verizon will be on the infrastructure this year. According to Verizon, it will also have two COLTs (cell on light trucks) mobile units at this year’s race, to improve coverage in far-flung areas like the fields of parking that are necessary to host the 250,000 fans who may show up to watch the May 25 event.

Verizon antennas atop Indianapolis Motor Speedway scoreboard.

Verizon antennas atop Indianapolis Motor Speedway scoreboard.

Winter, who responded to questions via email, said Verizon offered “the best solution” when it came to picking a DAS host. The spread-out nature of the huge, 2.5-mile track makes Indy a fairly unique situation when it comes to wireless coverage. Added to the spacing requirements, Winter also noted that the track’s network sees a huge and sudden surge when fans arrive for race day. Among some of the experiments Winter and her staff are trying are some selected uses of public Wi-Fi, this year at special pre-race concert events and also in the VIP areas.

“Coverage and capacity on our busy race days continues to be a challenge that we are working to improve,” Winter wrote.

With the added capacity, Verizon customers should have no problems accessing the Verizon IndyCar Series INDYCAR 14 mobile app, which for Verizon customers only offers live features that include driver and pit crew audio, race radio broadcast coverage, as well as a track map. Winter said there is also an Indianapolis Motor Speedway app called Brickyard Mobile, which is the digital version of the track’s guest guide.

Variety of apps to support the Sochi Olympics

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NBC’s broadcast of the Olympics should be boon to its online and streaming viewership, even though this is something that the network has made available for some time. As with many apps and capabilities users often only discover them when looking for specific tool or event.

There are a surprising number of apps available for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics that will be held in Sochi starting later this week. They range from simple calendars to one that will be showing live events.

Actually this is probably not surprising but then it’s hard to say why you would want something aside from the one that is available from NBC Sports, the official broadcaster of the games. Aside from the fact that the app, NBC Sports Live Extra, is from the broadcaster it was hardly just conceived for the Olympics.

The app also provides live sports events that air on NBC, NBC Sports Network and the Golf Channel so that over the course there will be IndyCar, the PGA Tour, Premier League Soccer and the NHL to name just a few.

We have already mentioned most of the features of the app as it pertains to the Olympics but it’s good to mention that there will be 1,000 hours of live streaming video with some replay on demand capabilities. It is free to use with select caveats.

However if you are looking for different functionality there are plenty of options starting with the U.S. Olympic team’s official app. It details who has made the team, links to athletes’ social media and an up-to-date following of how they do.

Another general purpose sports app, this one with a more international flavor, which will have a special focus on the Winter Olympics, is BBC Sports. It will have live coverage of events at the games and can be used to follow a wide range of International sports.

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An interested app is the Sochi 2014 WOW (Wireless Olympics Works) that comes from Samsung Electronics, one of the major sponsors. The app is customizable so that a user can have it focus on their specific interests. Not too surprising is that it is also optimized for Samsung devices.

Fan Vision Delivers the PGA Championship to Attendees

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Have you ever been to a golf tournament and you can hear the roar of the crowd after some great feat by a golfer, but you did not witness it because you are sitting at the 18th hole waiting for your favorites to play through?

Well FanVision, a company that is seeking to establish itself as a leading provider of in-venue content is offerings its technology at the tournament that is being held this week at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.

The idea is simple: lease or buy a small device that features video feed from the venue, and possibly elsewhere at the same time. The handheld device supports ten channels that have the ability to provide multiple camera angles or events happened at multiple places.

It is not just a source for live video but also provides information about the event as well as providing up to date news from the tournament. The company is renting the handheld devices at the Championship on a daily basis as well as for the week. If anyone uses one there we would be interested in some feedback.

The company first came to our attention two years ago when it started pushing its technology at NFL games, but then fell off the radar as that effort appears to have fallen to the wayside. But that did not mean that the company went away- it moved into new areas including NASCAR, which seems to be a natural fit for the technology, the Indy 500 and had a relationship with Formula One but that appears to be over, which is a pity. This is an interesting approach, and I can see it appealing to fans at events such as auto racing and golf, and even horse racing.

Indy 500 Will be Coming to You via Instagram

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has entered into a deal with social media management company Venueseen to have photos taken at the venerable brickyard to be used in a marketing campaign. As part of the program Venueseen will open its API for the marketing campaign, a possible sign of things to come.

The marketing program, which centers around a sweepstake called Indy500orBust that asks fans to upload photos to Instagram using the hashtag #Indy500orbust. The sweepstakes have not officially been launched and the rules were not up on the site yet but according to a piece in Ad Age the winner of the contest will receive a VIP race experience.

The uploaded images will be given a geotags so that they can be plotted on an interactive map that can be seen at the www.indy500orbust.com site. According to the interview at Ad Age that site will be the only place that the photos will be used.

Move comes at a time when users fearful how their store images will be used

No doubt you have heard about Instagram’s change in its Terms of Use that caused a huge outrage among its users a few weeks ago when users were concerned that the photo sharing site was now declaring that it had the right to use all of your photos. A number of prominent users said that they were pulling their images from the site for fear that they would be used in a manner that they did not approve of or because they did not feel that Instagram had a right to profit from their images.

It only took the company one day to recant that position and go back to its older TOU. However there has been a number of stories since that claim that the site has started to lose appreciable numbers of users due to that misstep, claims that Instagram denies.

Be that as it may, this move could reopen that can of worms. Venueseen claims that its open API will enable other developers to tap into the huge photo catalog and use the images for campaigns, claiming that the images are in the public domain.

It is too bad that this fight has to go on because I like what the Indy 500 is doing and think it will be interesting to track fans and see some of their posts. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months, with the race slated for late May as usual.