Long-promised Mobilitie DAS goes live at San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium

Just before game time at Avaya Stadium for the 2016 MLS All Star game. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

The San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium, which opened more than two years ago, finally has a working DAS, according to a press release from DAS provider Mobilitie.

Mobilitie, which won the deal back in 2015, said its neutral-host deployment has more than 150 antennas. The release did not say which carriers have agreed to deals or are live on the system; we are awaiting a response to an email to Mobilitie and Avaya folks, so stay tuned.

Since its opening, Avaya Stadium has had Wi-Fi provided by the namesake sponsor, a network that got considerably better ahead of last summer’s MLS All-Star Game. Any Quakes fans who can take some cell-service speedtests, send them our way.

Avaya files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

mls14Networking company Avaya, which has made an aggressive move over the past couple years into the sports stadium networking space, including purchasing naming rights and technology contracts to the San Jose Earthquakes soccer stadium, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to the company website.

No word yet on how the “restructuring” will affect any of Avaya’s stadium tech deals, which include Wi-Fi networks at the Pepsi Center in Denver, and at the Montreal Canadiens’ Bell Centre, along with Avaya Stadium in San Jose. More as we learn more.

New Report: Carolina Panthers build new Wi-Fi and DAS; Mercedes-Benz Stadium update, and more!

Q3thumbMobile Sports Report is pleased to announce the Q3 issue of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series, the ONLY in-depth publication created specifically for the stadium technology professional and the stadium technology marketplace.

In addition to our historical in-depth profiles of successful stadium technology deployments, our Q3 issue for 2016 has additional news and analysis, including a look at Wi-Fi analytics at the Mall of America, and a story about how the Cleveland Browns found $1 million in ROI using new analytics software from YinzCam. Download your FREE copy today!

Inside the report our editorial coverage also includes:

— Bank of America Stadium profile: An in-depth look at the Carolina Panthers’ decision to bring new Wi-Fi and DAS networks in-house;
— Mercedes-Benz Stadium profile: An early look at the technology being built into the new home of the Atlanta Falcons, with an emphasis on fiber;
— T-Mobile Arena photo essay: A first look at the newest venue on the famed Las Vegas Strip;
— Avaya Stadium profile: How the stadium’s Wi-Fi network became the star of the MLS All-Star game.

We’d like to take a quick moment to thank our sponsors, which for this issue include Mobilitie, Crown Castle, SOLiD, CommScope, JMA Wireless, Corning, Samsung Business, Xirrus, Huber+Suhner, ExteNet Systems, DAS Group Professionals and Boingo Wireless. Their generous sponsorship makes it possible for us to offer this content free of charge to our readers. We’d also like to thank you for your interest and support.

Wi-Fi a winner at Avaya Stadium’s MLS All-Star game

Just before game time at Avaya Stadium for the 2016 MLS All Star game. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

Just before game time at Avaya Stadium for the 2016 MLS All Star game. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

On the pitch it was the Arsenal lads emerging victorious over by a 2-1 score over the Major League Soccer All-Stars, but in the stands it was Avaya Stadium’s Wi-Fi network that won the day at the 2016 MLS All-Star game Thursday in San Jose, Calif.

Unlike a year ago at the Avaya Stadium opening, when we found the fan-facing Wi-Fi a bit lacking, the Wi-Fi network performed at top speeds for almost all of our tests during an MSR “walkaround” before and during the MLS All-Star game. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about the cellular network performance in and around Avaya Stadium, with many signals so weak on both the AT&T and Verizon Wireless networks that in most places we couldn’t conduct a speed test.

Leaving behind the question as to why there hasn’t been a DAS installed yet at Avaya Stadium, it was great to see the Wi-Fi network consistently hit download and upload speeds in the mid- to high-20+ Mbps range in just about every spot of the U-shaped soccer-centric arena. In the main seating areas, in the concourses below the stands as well as around the huge open-air bar there was solid connectivity, fueled by what looked like a lot more APs than we saw during vists to the venue last year.

While some of the AP installs looked like last-minute fixes (we saw several instances where paper binder clips were used in Phil Mickelson fashion to secure wiring to metal beams) there was certainly a noticeable amount of extra equipment, especially on the stanchions that loom out over the seating area. There, it seemed like every beam or at least every other beam had three sets of paired APs, which no doubt helped produce a speed test of 28.93/27.44 we took in the middle of the seating area (of section 120, in the closed end zone). Last year, it was a challenge to get a good reading in the middle of the seats.

The top speed test we got Thursday night was outside a sausage stand at one corner of the open end zone, where the meter hit 44.00/33.49 just before game time. We were also impressed by the consistent coverage at the huge outdoor bar in the open end zone, helped no doubt by APs on the top of the bar roof on each end, and three APs per side above the bar server areas.

Somewhat ironically the only place we couldn’t get a Wi-Fi signal was in our assigned “press box” seat, actually the upper back corner in the southwest part of the stadium. While we are guessing the problem may have been due to press-laptop overload (or some APs missing from what looked like normal install points), we noticed that by walking one section away from the press section we were able to reconnect with the regular stadium Wi-Fi network at a reading of 18.27/20.38.

One of the many 'doubled' AP installs we saw

One of the many ‘doubled’ AP installs we saw

Most of the 18,000+ fans in the sellout crowd seemed to have no issues connecting to the Internet, as we saw fans heads-down on their devices in all parts of the venue. We did talk to one fan at halftime who said the lack of cellular connectivity outside the main gate kept him from being able to call up his digital tickets on his phone.

“But once I got inside I connected to Wi-Fi and everything was fine,” he said.

On the upper deck walkways we did finally get a fairly strong AT&T 4G LTE signal — 8.23/8.93 — which may have been due to a clear line of sight to the “eyeball” antenna we saw deployed in the VIP parking lot. And while we could make calls and send texts on our Verizon phone 4G LTE connection, trying to load a web page took so long we gave up. Moral of the story is for Avaya Stadium fans: Make sure you hit the GOQUAKES SSID as soon as you’re near the stadium!

Enjoy the rest of our photos from our quick trip to San Jose, and know that while beers may cost $12.50 and shots of Jameson’s may set you back $12 each, at this year’s All-Star game all the Arsenal cheers and songs you ever wanted to hear were free of charge.

APs like this ringed the lower concourse wall areas


When the players walk through the concourse to take the pitch, it’s snapshot city


At the huge end zone bar, it was SRO all day long

AP visible in middle of roof section of bar

Pictures and selfies were the order of the day

The famed sausage stand AP with the 44 down reading. The bratwurst was good, too

The Avaya Stadium social media wall

Staying connected in the stands


Nice view from the upper deck

I think if I stuck around this group for one more beer I could have learned at least three Arsenal songs

AT&T eyeball antenna sighting in the VIP parking lot

Thinking out loud: Stadiums need better game-day online response teams

Avaya Stadium offers an online welcome

Avaya Stadium offers an online welcome

Maybe I just haven’t been to enough stadiums, but in the ones I visited over the last year I was struck by the fact that none of them seemed to have any kind of a place for live, updated game-day information where fans could find the kind of answers that might really improve their attendance experience.

In visiting various professional and top-level collegiate venues and interviewing representatives of other stadiums I continue to be impressed by the depth and breadth of technology deployments and of some apps that deliver advanced services, like Levi’s Stadium’s food delivery or the various live-replay systems in place at schools like Baylor and Nebraska, as well as at numerous pro venues. But I’ve yet to find a stadium, team or school with what seems like a simple thing to do — either to have a constantly updated “daily news” stream about game-day issues, or better yet, a rapid-response team on either social media or email to answer simple questions like, where should I park, and which gate should I go to?

Sometimes it seems like the simplest things are being overlooked when it comes to stadium technology, and I’m wondering why no such services seem to exist. Are they too costly? Or just not thought of as necessary? Or are stadium owners and operators not really paying attention to what happens on game day?

Why can’t all fans get the ‘suite’ treatment?

I don’t think the last question is true, since I did have the privilege of attending one Niners game at Levi’s Stadium this past season as the guest of app developer VenueNext, an experience that included a pass to the company’s corporate suite. As you can probably guess, having a suite-level pass is indeed a “suite” way to see a game. Almost all of your concerns and needs are taken care of, from the already paid-for drinks and food to the comfortable seating, and there is no shortage of stadium staff around to answer any questions you might have about where to go or how to find things.

One for the road at the BNY Club, Levi's Stadium

One for the road at the BNY Club, Levi’s Stadium

Fans with “regular” passes, however, simply don’t have many similar options for assistance, especially outside the stadium gates, where perhaps help is most needed. I know teams and stadiums (like Levi’s) do a good job of making maps and guides available online, especially for season ticket holders, but those resources typically aren’t designed for viewing on mobile devices, especially in a low-connectivity or bright-sunlight outdoor situation. Others that are designed for mobile apps, like Avaya Stadium’s “Ava” character, only offer canned information, and not a question-and-answer service.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a rapid-response Twitter handle or a regularly updated Twitter feed to answer questions like “where is the best place to park for seating in Section X,” or “which lots are less full,” or “which lots offer the fastest exit after the game?” Such a service could be incredibly helpful for the huge numbers of fans who only attend a small number of games, who might be making such decisions at the last minute and may have never been to the stadium before.

Feed me, keep me warm and dry

I really could have used such an informative service at the College Football Playoff championship game, which I was able to attend via a last-minute media invite from AT&T. Though my pass included access to the game (and more suite-level pampering) I didn’t have any special treatment getting to the event, so my game-day travel experience was probably very similar to many of the thousands of Ohio State and Oregon fans who had likely never been to AT&T Stadium before. Like many others, I decided to get to the stadium early, both to avoid any kind of parking crush and to bathe in whatever pre-game atmosphere might emerge. Three things I wasn’t prepared for came back to chomp me in the behind: Freezing cold weather, the lack of anywhere outside the stadium to get out of said cold weather, and the lack of any kind of online information to assist in the situation.

Fans freezing outside waiting for the CFP game to start

Fans freezing outside waiting for the CFP game to start

Though we were smart enough to grab lunch beforehand at a nearby bar and grill, my friend and media buddy Phil Harvey and I were only vaguely aware of the fact that the doors to the stadium weren’t going to open until 5:30 p.m., two hours before the scheduled game start, something we hadn’t really counted on when we drove over to park at 2 p.m. Our thoughts of being able to wander around and check out tailgate parties — or the underpublicized outdoor “festival” being put on by the NCAA and its sponsors — were negated by the chilling, biting wind, which whipped mercilessly throughout the acres of parking lots surrounding the stadium.

Like many others that day, we wound up spending some unplanned shopping time in the nearby Walmart, mainly to get out of the chill. We also ended up being frustrated with thousands of our newest closest friends, when the ticket gates apparently opened at 4:30 — only to find ourselves “in” the event (having gone through security and ticket checking) but still outside the doors, jammed onto the outdoor patios where we had to wait for another hour. The only good part of being crushed cheek to jowl is that being packed together did help keep all of us somewhat warmer.

Bargains available at the AT&T Stadium Walmart.

Bargains available at the AT&T Stadium Walmart.

Sure, we should have been smarter and maybe asked more questions beforehand but during the hours of unpleasantness all I could think of was why someone from the game or venue wasn’t outside watching what was going on, or doing anything to help rectify the situation. Even a simple official message of “we aren’t opening the doors for two more hours — here are a list of nearby restaurants you can walk to” would have been extremely helpful advice.

Maybe the CFP game was an outlier situation — lots of people who had never been to the venue before — but I’m guessing the situation isn’t that unique, especially for “big” events like playoffs or championships. And especially when it comes to extreme weather conditions, it just seems to make sense to have some kind of continually updated “at the game” news service that is well advertised and easily found, so that when a crisis situation emerges, fans know where to turn for trusted information.

Do any such services exist? Are there teams out there already doing this in a fashion that works? Let me know here, or we can have a discussion over on Twitter, where you can find me under the @PaulKaps handle.

Avaya Stadium fans used 256 GB of Wi-Fi during Earthquakes’ MLS home opener

Connecting to Wi-Fi was easy

Connecting to Wi-Fi was easy

Fans at the San Jose Earthquakes’ MLS home opener at the brand-new Avaya Stadium used 256 gigabytes of data on the venue’s Wi-Fi network, according to statistics provided by Avaya, which also runs the wireless network in its new namesake stadium.

With a sellout crowd of 18,000 on hand to jam the new stadium, almost 25 percent of the attendees logged on to the Wi-Fi network, with a total of 4,217 unique connections during the March 22 game, Avaya representatives said. The peak number of simultaneous connections during the 2-1 Earthquakes victory over the Chicago Fire was 2,735, Avaya said, with an average connection number of 1,247 fans on the Wi-Fi network during the game.

Our unofficial testing of the Wi-Fi network during the game found some spots where connectivity was challenged, but with 256 GB over a few hours the 170+ Wi-Fi access points appeared to have done their job. We expect connectivity at Avaya Stadium to improve when Mobilitie finishes deploying its neutral-host DAS in the stadium, which currently does not have any enhanced cellular connectivity.