Stadium Tech Report: Los Angeles Angels and 5 Bars build ‘wireless halo’ of Wi-Fi & DAS for Angels Stadium

The iconic sign outside the "Big A," aka Angels Stadium of Anaheim. Credit all photos, even tilted ones: Terry Sweeney, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

The iconic sign outside the “Big A,” aka Angels Stadium of Anaheim. Credit all photos, even tilted ones: Terry Sweeney, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

Every baseball team wants to notch a win on opening day, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are no exception. So while the number of runs scored was important to Al Castro, the franchise’s IT director, his eye was also on wireless performance in Angels Stadium, since 2015 will be the first full season with both Wi-Fi and DAS technology in place. The Angels may have lost their opener against the Kansas City Royals, but their wireless networks scored big by handling more than 1.3 TB of data that afternoon.

“Fans expect connectivity these days,” Castro told Mobile Sports Report during a tour of Angels Stadium, aka the Big A, which was built in 1966. Once the home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, the stadium went through and extensive renovation in 1997-98 and now seats about 44,000 for baseball and serves 3 million visitors annually. “If they’re going to come to a ballgame for four hours,” said Castro of today’s fans, “they won’t tolerate not being connected.”

Adding wireless to the ‘Big A’

To get the wireless ball rolling last year, teams of engineers on scaffolding started on the uppermost tier of the Big A (the “View Level”) to mount DAS and Wi-Fi antennas to the stadium canopy. Working from outermost edges of the C-shaped stadium, two sets at of scaffolding at each end leapfrogged each til they met in the middle – a five-week process, according to Castro.

Angels IT director Al Castro, in front of his wireless deployment map

Angels IT director Al Castro, in front of his wireless deployment map

The 15-zone DAS network went live in June 2014 with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile on board; Sprint is expected to add some antennas in the next several weeks. Currently, there are 122 DAS remotes in 33 locations. Angel Stadium Wi-Fi went live in September 2014 and now counts more than 400 access points around the stadium, according to team figures. Ruckus Wireless is the Wi-Fi vendor; the DAS gear is from Teko Telecom, now part of JMA Wireless.

The Angels worked closely with technology partner 5 Bars, a builder of turnkey wireless networks for sports venues’ wireless needs. Castro would not disclose the budget for the wireless upgrades at Angels Stadium.

In addition to using Major League Baseball’s Ballpark app, Angels fans can post to social media, surf the Web and check email from the stadium’s wireless networks. On the stadium’s club level, spectators can wirelessly order food and beverage from their seats; Legends, which operates the stadium’s concessions, uses an unpublished SSID for 150 wireless-enabled moveable cash registers and more than two dozen handheld point-of-sale devices. Similarly, TicketMaster has its own invisible SSID for wireless scanning of tickets at the stadium’s entry gates; the SSID for the press box is also masked, according to Castro.

Hiding in plain (or painted) sight

The DAS antennas and APs have been strategically installed and well concealed; they’re as discrete as chameleons. Working with Ruckus gear, 5 Bars installed narrow-beam, sectorized-beam and high-capacity APs, all centrally managed by Ruckus’s SmartCell Gateway 200.

A nice view of the field -- with antennas in silhouette

A nice view of the field — with antennas in silhouette

The Angels also use SmartCell Insight, a reporting and analytics package that helps the team track number of unique connections to the Wi-Fi during the course of a game, device types, total and average data uploaded and downloaded, and their speeds, Castro said.

Angel Stadium Wi-Fi has been engineered for 20,000 simultaneous users; there’s no throttling of user bandwidth and no filtering for streaming media like Spotify — “yet,” Castro was quick to add with a laugh. Download speeds vary depending on crowd size, according to Tommy Taylor, senior manager, engineering services for 5 Bars. For a game with 36,000 in attendance, for example, average download speed for devices using 2.4 GHz bandwidth is 8-12 Mbps, while 5 GHz connections can run as fast as 18-24 Mbps. On the traffic side, currently the network is seeing upload volume of about 20 percent of the download average volume, Taylor said, in an email to Mobile Sports Report.

The Angels will continue to fine-tune the network and add or re-point APs as necessary. “We are in the process of adding additional APs to cover some areas that, when the stadium is full, do not receive the high level of coverage we are targeting to provide,” Castro said. Those additions should be done by mid-June. Management has an eye on monetizing the network through sponsorships, and extending the in-seat ordering system beyond the club level of the ballpark, according to Castro.

He also wants to add streaming video to the network so that fans can watch replay from multiple angles, which Castro described as “a good incentive — something you can’t get at home.” He also intends to expand his use of analytics and report generation on a game-by-game basis. It’s the sort of thing that the owners and managers of the team are increasingly interested in, Castro added.

Fans are using Periscope and Meerkat to stream Opening Day baseball action — how will MLB respond?

Ended Meerkat stream from MLB opening day

Ended Meerkat stream from MLB opening day

The question we asked about how the use of livestreaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope might affect stadium networks is getting some real-world trials today, as fans are clearly using the apps to show live video from the various opening day games for Major League Baseball. So far, we’ve seen reports that fans are using the apps from the New York Yankees’ home opener agains the Toronto Blue Jays, and at the Detroit Tigers’ home opener against the Minnesota Twins. We’ve tried to catch a live broadcast of game action, but so far no luck!

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal got MLB to comment… and the league doesn’t like live streaming, no wonder. Still, no word on how it’s going to be enforced.

UPDATE 2: Well, MLB has responded… and it made the WSJ issue a correction, no small thing there. According to MLBAM’s Bob Bowman the league will “monitor” people who are livestreaming, but won’t take any action. Apparently Bowman thinks that fans won’t spend their time at games livestreaming, which we would put in the “remains to be seen” category. Also, nothing has been said so far about how livestreaming might affect stadium wireless network performance; so we are still betting that we haven’t yet heard the end of potential Meerkat/Periscope bans, especially from other sports like football. Stay tuned!

Though live streaming of game action seems to be in direct violation of MLB broadcast rights, we still haven’t heard back from the league about what it plans to do, if anything, about livestream feeds from games. For what it’s worth, the Meerkat terms of service seem to absolve the app or the company from any infraction, saying it’s the user’s responsibility to not use it to show content that is copyrighted or otherwise protected. But we all remember YouTube, right?

Since the live streams aren’t archived it’s possible that the league may just let them slide; and there probably aren’t more than a handful of people streaming yet at each game, so it’s doubtful that stadium networks are yet feeling any huge strain from the apps.

Small text snippet from Meerkat TOS... you are own your own when it comes to rights violations!

Small text snippet from Meerkat TOS… you are own your own when it comes to rights violations!

But it’s also not too hard to look into the near future at a “big game” and see hundreds or thousands of fans bringing a stadium network to its knees with live video streaming. So far, none of our stadium sources seems willing to talk publicly about the potential problem; we also have calls and emails in to both Twitter and Meerkat, and will update this post as we hear more.

Twitter, which bought Periscope, has a relationship with MLB so you are likely to see lots of Vines and photos from teams. But so far on the Twitter Sports blog, no Periscope. Let us know if you see any live action streams… we will keep updating this post as we hear more.

UPDATE: Just saw some live video of introductions in DC thanks to our old pal David Joachim (hey Dave!)…

UPDATE 2: Just had to add this tweet from one of my favorite writers, Steve Rushin… of course they’re on their phones!

Little League World Series Starts – Plenty of Games Available to View on Mobile Devices

Little League World Series

The Little League World Series starts in earnest this week. Over the last few weeks I have caught parts of the various regional games as the field has been narrowed down to the 16 teams that get invited to play in the championship rounds in South Williamsport, Pa.

Now the two fields, US and International, have been filled out and the teams will start to play for the glory that is winning the championship an event that virtually every baseball fan I know wishes that they had the opportunity to play in. Where I grew up one of the local teams made it (but lost 2-0) when I was young and the younger brothers and sisters of the players got reflected glory for even being related.

It is interesting to note that in the 66th playing of the LLWS, US teams have won 33 times and international have won 32 times. Will an international squad even the score this year?

There are eight regional sections in the US Pool:
1) Mid-Atlantic: Par Troy East Little League, Parsippany, N.J.
2) West: Petaluma National Little League, Petaluma, Ca.
3) Southwest: McAllister Park, San Antonio, Texas
4) Great Lakes: New Castle Little League, New Castle, Ind.
5) New England: Fairfield Little League, Fairfield, Conn.
6) Midwest: Kearney Little League, Kearney, Neb.
7) Southwest: Goodlettsville Little League, Goodlettsville, Tenn.
8 ) Northwe

st: Gresham Little League, Gresham, Or.

As well as eight in the International Pool:
1) Caribbean: Pariba Little League, Willemstad, Curacao
2) Japan: Kitasuna Little League, Tokyo,
3) Mexico: Oriente Little League, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
4) Europe: Kaiserslautern Military Command (KMC) American Little League
5) MEA (Mideast & Africa) Lugazi Little League, Lugazi, Uganda
6) Latin America: Aguadulce Cabezera Little League, Aguadulce, Panama
7) Canada: Hastings Community Little League, Vancouver, British Columbia
8 ) Asia-Pacific: Kuei-Shan Little League, Taoyuan County, Taipei

The first round is a double elimination round that starts on August 16 with Japan vs. Caribbean and then an additional three games, all broadcast on a variety of ESPN outlets including ABC, ESPN HD, and ESPN 3D. I think that with mid-day starts fans will appreciate the ability to use’s watchESPN and view the games live on their work computer or mobile device.

I did not realize the scope to which the tournament and others related to it has grown over the years. While this article mostly mentions the Little League Baseball World Series, the 66th annual, there are seven additional tournaments in all.

The other seven Little League World Series dates and sites are: Big League Baseball (15-18-year-olds; Easley, S.C.; July 25-Aug. 1); Big League Softball (14-18-year-olds; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Aug. 1-8); Senior League Softball (13-16-year-olds; Lower Sussex, Del.; Aug. 5-11); Little League Softball (11-12-year-olds; Portland, Ore.; Aug. 9-15); Junior League Softball (12-14-year-olds; Kirkland, Wash.; Aug. 12-18); Junior League Baseball (12-14-year-olds; Taylor, Mich.; Aug. 12-18); and Senior League Baseball (13-16-year-olds; Bangor, Maine; Aug. 12-18).


Football (The US Version) Applying for Olympic Recognition?

I caught an interesting piece in ProFootballTalk that said that the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) was applying for Olympic recognition and looking to promote the game on the international stage at some point.

According to a piece at NFL.Com the application will be looked at next year and the article compared how the US once dominated basketball and now others have caught up. Really it often seems that the loss 2004 had other issues that cause the defeat and ultimate disappointing bronze.

I had never really considered football as a sport that fit well in the Olympics format, or one that would do well if selected, and that is not because of the possibility that it is not accepted by other nations. Rather the problem is that it seems to me that with all of the qualifying rounds and matches (assuming they do it like soccer), the sport would continue on from the end of the NFL season until the start of the Olympics.

Then once the Olympics started they would have to play a number of games within a two week period, unless they had already weeded out all of the teams but the final four. That just seems like it would not do for the players with the much higher risk that would entail.

Yet there is a much larger body of people playing football around the world that I had imagined as well. In perusing the IFAF web site I was astounded to see how many national federations there was in the organization. With 62 on six continents it is spread from Kuwait to Uruguay to New Zealand with Europe having by far the most nations represented.

They have an 19 and under league, a women’s league and a seniors league, and have played for at least four championships, one played every four years and the next one scheduled for play in Sweden in 2015.

Apparently football was played once as a spectator sport in the Olympics, back in 1932 at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles seniors from three schools, California, Stanford and USC played a set against seniors from three schools from the East Coast, Harvard, Yale and Princeton. The West won 7-6.

While I have seen many people complain that one reason that the Olympics would never accept football is because of US domination and point to the dropping of baseball as an example, I think that reasoning is at least in part misguided.

Major League Baseball is never going to stop playing for several weeks in the middle of the season to allow its players to go to the games. The lost revenue, the impact on playoff games and a host of other issues would make that move a terrible idea.

If you look at the last 5 Olympics that allowed baseball, the US won the gold once, in 2000, along with two bronze medals while Cuba has won three gold medals and South Korea one. Without the top athletes, which it does not look like they will get, the US probably would not be considered the favorite if other nations managed to get their top people in.

Much the same logic can be applied to the NFL’s reaction. Lose players for a number of weeks at the start of training camp? Well they actually did that last year, and I am pretty sure that no one is happy with that or wants to repeat it.

The only way I could see the US participate is if they took one of the other leagues, the reborn USFL or the UFL and used the championship team from that league. While an all star team might make more sense to some it seems to me that a team that has already played a season together has a better chance of shining in an event such as this.

GameChanger Stepping Up to the Plate With Live AAU Baseball Tourney Streaming

Seven Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) summer baseball tournaments held at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Florida and continuing through June 30 are available on GameChanger, the mobile and web tool that delivers real-time local amateur baseball and softball game updates.

Founded in 2009 in New York City, GameChanger provides live pitch-by-pitch updates, stats and instant game stories.

The AAU will stream real-time game information to globally subscribing fans.

“Our tournaments have traditionally attracted top coaches and players – and the enthusiastic fans that follow them,” said Debra Horn, Senior Manager of AAU Baseball. “This year, we did our research and picked the simplest, most accessible – and free – technology out there to step up our overall experience: our teams will be using the GameChanger mobile app to digitally keep score – and automatically beam play-by-plays to fans anywhere in the world.”

Now used by more than 45,000 teams, the free GameChanger scorekeeping app, available on Apple and Android devices, allows amateur baseball and softball coaches and scorekeepers to log each play using its simple, touch-screen app.

As each play is recorded, the app then streams live pitch-by-pitch updates to the Internet, where fans anywhere can follow in real-time from a web browser, mobile browser or the GameChanger mobile app.

“We’re bringing technology to AAU Baseball and amateur sports that, until recently, was reserved strictly for big leaguers,” Ted Sullivan, CEO of GameChanger Media, said. “This partnership continues to highlight a shift in the way youth and high school baseball teams collect and manage their data, where fans anywhere can keep up with the action just by using their mobile devices.”

James Raia is a California-based journalist who writes about sports and leisure. Visit his golf site at


Friday Grab Bag — Come for the Red Sox Game, Stay for the Bootmobile

For Red Sox Fans & L.L Bean Aficionados: Two venerable institutions are celebrating their 100th Anniversaries this year and what could be more natural than L.L. Bean teaming up with Fenway Park to celebrate that event? A lot you say, well quiet down.

Of the most interest to the average fan I believe will be the display of a large and unique collection of baseball artifacts that were collected by the founder of L.L. Bean, including letters between Leon Leonwood Bean and Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.

The L.L Bean Bootmobile will kick off the festivities when it drops by Fenway for the 2012 Season Opener, prior to the Bootmobile leaving on the 2012 Bootmobile Tour. It will be your chance to get your photo taken with the iconic vehicle, I kid thee not. There will also be ticket giveaways and a variety of other events centered on the joint anniversary.

Want to develop for the Windows Phone? There is AppCampus!
Of course it might help to speak Finnish. Microsoft has teamed with its partner Nokia and to continue their strong push of the Windows Phone platform with the creation of AppCampus, a venture that is designed to fuel development of apps for the platform.

The effort will be managed by a third partner, Aalto University School of Science and Technology, which was formed in 2010 in Helsinki with the merging of The Helsinki School of Economics, Helsinki University of Technology and The University of Art and Design Helsinki.

The three year venture, which will see Nokia and Microsoft invest approximately $24 million, seeks to garner thousands of applicants developing along a range of mobile apps. Aside from Windows development the effort will also encompass development for Nokia’s Symbian operating system.

Miss your Android apps on your PC? Look for that to end
BlueStacks, a developer of technology that is designed to allow Android apps to play on a PC has released the beta-1 version of its technology that should enable that feature. Called the App Player, the release is the second from the company.

A quick visit to its site confounded me on more information since it had a hot button to download the app but none to give me general information about the program, such as minimum system requirements etc… Maybe I just looked in the wrong place, would not be the first time.

According to PCWorld the app emulator runs on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 and enables you to use apps from a variety of Android app sites and run them on your PC, which would be cool, and lead to an even greater loss of productivity on my part. In the future the company is reportedly aiming at also allowing Macintosh users to play Android games. I wonder what Apple will try and do about that?

The Patent Wars
TiVo sues Time Warner & Motorola Mobility

TiVo, not wanting to be left on the sidelines in all of the lawsuit fun after ending a suit against Microsoft that apparently ended in a draw has filed a lawsuit against Motorola Mobility and Time Warner Cable, Venture Beat has reported.

The company is an experienced hand at this game, and a successful one, winning or resolving cases against several foes in the past including a deal that called for AT&T to pay the company at least $215 million. It also has a suit pending against Verizon.

In the most recent case TiVo is claiming that the two companies are violating three of its patents including ones that cover “multimedia time warping system,” and “system for time shifting multimedia content streams.” I do not envy the judge or jury in these cases.

Dell kills smartphone development — for now
Dell is once again rethinking its mobile strategy and this time I is its smartphone effort that is on the chopping block. It has already killed its tablet offerings, although the company is expected to return with a Windows-based offering by year end.

The company is killing in the United States its Venue Pro which runs a Microsoft OS and its Venue line that runs Android operating systems. It said that it will continue to sell the phones in Europe. The company did indicate that it intends to return to the U.S. market with new products at some point in the future.

FTC looking at establishing a “Do Not Track” option for consumers
The Federal Trade Commission has said that it is developing a “Do Not Track” option for consumer data and that the agency will seek to encourage the industry to adopt this as a standard feature that companies will be encouraged to adopt across the board.

At the same time it has indicated that it would like Congress to enact a law that would allow consumers access to the data that has been collected on them, much the way that you can access your financial standings.

Will this kill Facebook and Google? I am being facetious but they are top data harvesters, but I imagine they will simply provide an option to opt out and many, possibly most will not. Of more real interest to me is when I start hearing from sites I did not know where tracking me. I wonder what this will mean for the cookies market, if anything- any ideas?

NFL passes new rule changes
I sort of tune out the NFL right after the Super Bowl hype dies down. Sure there is free agency signings but it takes a while for the dust to settle and you can get a feel for how your team was helped or harmed. Possible aside from the Jets this year.

So while I knew that the NFL had changed some rules I did not realize that they changed 5 and that at least one more may be altered before all is said and done. Some of the changes were no-brainers like making the overtime rules the same in regular and post season and making the 12th man n the field penalty a dead ball foul.

The other moves include having Replay Officials initiate reviews on some types of turnovers, adding the recipient of a crack back block being added to the growing list of defenseless players and adding loss of down to kicking a loose ball. Was the last one really screaming to be added? There were a couple that was not approved as well, but it is still early in the offseason. Head over to SB Nation for a look at what did and did not pass.