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.

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)

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.

Denver’s Pepsi Center gets Avaya Wi-Fi network

Denver's Pepsi Center. Credit: Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Denver’s Pepsi Center. Credit: Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Though it’s been operating inside the building since earlier this year, the Avaya Wi-Fi network in Denver’s Pepsi Center is official today, with a public announcement from stadium owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment about the deployment.

Home to the NBA’s Nuggets and the NHL’s Avalanche, the arena — which seats 19,155 for hoops and 18,007 for hockey — hosts more than 200 events per year, according to the stadium home page. Now, sports fans and attendees at concerts and other events will be able to connect to the Internet via the 325 Avaya Wi-Fi APs installed over the past year, a number confirmed by Rick Schoenhals, vice president for information and technology for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE).

According to Schoenhals, the Wi-Fi network inside the Pepsi Center has been fully operational since late this spring, the end of a ramp-up period designed to ensure full operation by the start of the upcoming basketball and hockey seasons. Though no statistics for fan use from the past season are available, the network is designed to also provide connectivity for in-house operations including video feeds, security operations, concessions and also for sideline team access, according to a press release.

Avaya said the network deployment at the Pepsi Center will also include a “fan engagement wall,” a live social-media centerpiece that displays fan social media posts in real time for arena attendees to view on digital displays. Avaya has a similar fan engagement wall at its eponymous Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif., home to major league soccer’s Earthquakes and home of this year’s MLS All-Star game later this month. In addition to the Pepsi Center and Avaya Stadium, Avaya also is the gear used in the Wi-Fi network at the Montreal Canadiens’ Bell Centre.


Fan wall at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. Credit: Paul Kapustka, MSR

Fan experience soars with arrival of Wi-Fi at Montreal Canadiens’ Bell Centre

Fans outside the Bell Centre. All photos: Montreal Canadiens

Fans outside the Bell Centre. All photos: Montreal Canadiens

Fans of the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens finally have a technological stadium experience that matches the team’s successful on-ice legacy, with the debut this season of a fan-facing Wi-Fi network that empowers a wide range of services meant to make the game-day experience second to none.

As part of an announced $100 million refurbishing of the 20-year-old Bell Centre, the new Wi-Fi network is already letting the Canadiens support services like in-seat food and beverage delivery ordered via a mobile-device app, as well as mobile ticketing and fan-loyalty programs. According to Pierre-Eric Belzile, vice president of information and communication technology for the Canadiens, the new network has been in development for several years, when the team determined that its fans needed better connectivity inside the 21,288-seat arena.

“Since we have Bell [Canada] as a partner, we have a completely new DAS inside the arena,” Belzile said. But a few years ago, he said the team was looking at making video available to the public, and to support “all the new devices” coming online, the idea of providing Wi-Fi to fans started taking shape.

Sticking with what works

Editor’s note: This profile is an excerpt from our latest STADIUM TECHNOLOGY REPORT, which is available for FREE DOWNLOAD from our site. In addition to this and other in-depth profiles we also take an in-depth look at the new trend of deploying Wi-Fi and DAS antennas under seats, and provide a wireless recap from Super Bowl 50. GET YOUR COPY today!

The arena, Belzile said, already had a Wi-Fi network for internal operations, including point-of-sale systems for concessions and ticketing, that was installed in 2006. Belzile, who has been at the stadium for the past 15 years, said he liked that system’s infrastructure, which was provided then by Nortel. The familiarity with the technology led Belzile and his team to look first to the current Nortel technology owner, Avaya, for a buildout to a fan-facing system.

Avaya Wi-Fi AP on an overhead mount

Avaya Wi-Fi AP on an overhead mount

“I had such a good experience with the [Nortel] switches, how flexible they are, it was a normal decision to look at Avaya,” Belzile said. That look turned into a deal, and for this season Avaya gear is at the base of the 500-AP strong network that brings free Wi-Fi to every seat in the house.

For an Oct. 15 game, Belzile said the network was already working well, with approximately 4,000 unique users and a peak of 3,200 concurrent connections, even with little to no promotion of the Wi-Fi by the team. That night the Canadiens saw 320 gigabytes of data carried on the Wi-Fi network, a nightly number that has no doubt grown as the season progressed.

With an upper bowl that circles the entire stadium, Belzile said “it was an easy call” to mount all antennas overhead, and not trying to go the more costly route of installing them under seats. Cement columns in the backs of rows also made for convenient AP mounting spots, Belzile said. For the hard-to-reach rows down near the ice, Belzile said that Bell has made extra efforts to improve the DAS coverage there, ensuring that the closest seats also have good connectivity.

Bringing food to the fan

The new network also allows the Canadiens to provide in-seat food and beverage delivery to fans who order from the app, a service available to all seats except the “Club Dejardins” level, where the team said food is included with the ticket. Though no food-delivery stats have yet been provided by the team, the team said its goal is to deliver all orders within five minutes of them being placed.

Wi-Fi mounts on concrete post

Wi-Fi mounts on concrete post

The concession-delivery service is just part of an aggressive mobile-device strategy, one that includes a social media promotion headlined by the “Club 1909” (for the year the team was founded) program, which offers benefits like free tickets for loyalty points accrued.

Belzile said fans at the stadium can use the team’s mobile app to view instant replays, as well as participate in online quiz contests. On the concourses, the team added HD displays that show live game action, so that fans out of their seats don’t have to miss what’s happening on the ice. The multicast video system, Belzile said, is supported by the stadium’s Avaya-based network, and is easy to update dynamically, instead of the old static ads that used to be displayed.

“Sponsors have been very pleased with the results” from the new displays, Belzile said.

Though a bit of a newcomer to the stadium-network space, Avaya already has some big-name deployments under its belt, including its namesake Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif., home of pro soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes, as well as a yet-unannounced deployment already working at the Pepsi Center in Denver, home of the NBA’s Nuggets and the NHL’s Avalanche.

Belzile, who said he took a trip to San Jose recently to see the huge outdoor bar that is one of the signatures of Avaya Stadium, said he’s extremely pleased with the new Bell Centre network and what it supports: Solid connectivity for fans.

“We wanted to let people do whatever they wanted to do with their devices, anywhere in the building, even when they are at the game,” Belzile said. “The [new] network really helps improve the experience for the fans.”

Boston Bruins  v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three