AmpThink brings Wi-Fi to Mall of America: So far, 486 TB of data used by 320K unique clients

Bloomington, Minn.-based Mall of America. Photos: Mall of America Instagram page.

Bloomington, Minn.-based Mall of America. Photos: Mall of America Instagram page.

Lately the sports stadium technology business has seen some big wireless-usage events, like Super Bowl 50, WrestleMania 32 and the Kentucky Derby, where fans keep setting records with terabytes of wireless use. We know it’s not a stadium, but now that we have some stats from the new Wi-Fi network AmpThink installed at the Mall of America, prepare yourself for a new level of consumption: How does 486 TB of traffic used by 319,995 unique clients over 793,750 total wireless sessions grab you?

Granted, not all this traffic happened in a single day during a single event (it’s the total since the network went live just before Thanksgiving in 2015) but still — we’ve always said that the large-crowd connectivity problems seen in stadiums would likely be replicated in many other large public venues like convention centers, casinos and malls — and now, thanks to AmpThink, we have some proof.

We haven’t yet visited the Bloomington, Minn.-based Mall of America, which calls itself the Nation’s Largest Mall even though according to Wikipedia it is the second-largest shopping mall in the country behind the King of Prussia Mall outside Philadelphia. (If there’s a mall-size expert out there, please let us know the stats.) Bottom line: Mall of America is huge, as it has an in-mall amusement park and the multiple levels of indoor shopping, which seem to make sense in Minnesota, where it can get brutally cold in wintertime and hot in the summer. It also seems to make sense that people will increasingly want Internet connectivity while shopping, for both economical reasons (how many of you have searched the price of something on your phone while at the mall?) as well as standard reasons while at a large public venue like help getting around, finding things like parking, restaurants and friends.

Old Met Stadium site gets new Wi-Fi… and Cisco StadiumVision

So on the site of the old Metropolitan Stadium in the Twin Cities, there’s now a Cisco-based Wi-Fi network which, if the stats mentioned above are any proof, is quite popular with shoppers. According to AmpThink, the network covering the mall’s 5.6 million square feet of space uses more than 600 Wi-Fi access points in addition to 236,600 feet of CAT6 cable, and 7,920 feet of fiber optic cable. Though we’re guessing that a mall may have infrastructure that allows for easier deployment of antennas, and not as much interference issues as a bowl-shaped stadium, apparently there was some new thinking necessary to cover the multiple mall levels with connectivity.

Minnesota Vikings cheer team tryouts at the mall.

Minnesota Vikings cheer team tryouts at the mall.

“The Wi-Fi network we built for the Mall is not just big, but complex,” said Bill Anderson, President of AmpThink, in a prepared statement. “Our Radio Frequency engineers were challenged to develop new methods to calibrate frequencies in order to optimize performance for shoppers as they move in a massive space that has four distinct shopping levels and a large administrative level.”

And again — while it’s not a stadium the mall is taking advantage of technologies honed in the crucible of stadium use, including Cisco’s StadiumVision system for digital displays, which in a mall situation most likely has multiple uses for its ability to have centralized control of content being pushed out to the TV-like displays throughout the facility. AmpThink also said its management of the network includes use of Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) to enable the mall to use things like device location data for customer engagement and analytic insights, such as the stat that mall guests who use the Wi-Fi network are staying for an average of 3.5 hours per visit to the mall.

With 40 million annual guests, we can’t wait to see the year-long Wi-Fi stats when they are totaled up. For now, it seems like the mall is happy with its choice of technology deployers:

“AmpThink has been a key partner in facilitating the connected experience for our guests at Mall of America”, said Jill Renslow, SVP of Marketing and Business Development at Mall of America, in a prepared statement. “Their industry experience and relationships were instrumental for our Wi-Fi installation, and we look forward to additional growth in innovation and a continued partnership with their team.”

Any other big malls out there with new Wi-Fi installs? Let us know!

UPDATE: Thanks to Andrew vonNagy of Revolution Wi-Fi LLC for the MoA Wi-Fi pictures below!