AT&T: Final Four sees 1.52 terabytes of DAS traffic, almost double last year’s total

Lucas Oil StadiumSometimes we feel like a broken record when talking about data usage at big events — is the total ever going to stop growing? Not at the Final Four, apparently, where this year AT&T saw almost double the traffic on its in-stadium DAS, even at a smaller venue, the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

According to AT&T, its customers used a total of 1.52 terabytes of data on the in-stadium DAS at Lucas Oil Stadium during the three Final Four weekend games, a huge jump from the 885 GB of DAS traffic AT&T saw on its network at the last Final Four, held in AT&T Stadium. Remember, these numbers are for AT&T cellular customers only, and does not include traffic for any other wireless carriers or for the Lucas Oil Stadium Wi-Fi network. We have calls and emails in to the various players to see if we can get more numbers, but for now AT&T’s almost-double growth is pretty interesting.

Normally we’re not big fans of infographics but the one accompanying the AT&T press release about Final Four traffic is pretty interesting, since it simply shows just how much data use at big events keeps growing. AT&T’s DAS traffic numbers for the last four Final Fours (New Orleans, Atlanta, Texas and Indy) start respectively at 376 GB for 2012, then jump to 667 GB for 2013, then to 885 GB last year and the 1.52 TB mark this year. Maybe the release of the new iPhones this past fall helped with the ever-increasing totals, or the fact that new rich media applications like Vine and Instagram are gaining in use? And with new livestreaming video apps like Meerkat and Periscope joining the fray, how will wireless networks at large venues hold up?

For AT&T, big events now mean lots of resources not just inside the building, but in the surrounding public areas as well, to better handle the big crowds as they move about the event locale. Like it did for the recent South by Southwest festival in Austin, AT&T brought its big-ball antenna to Indy for the weekend, and supplemented downtown coverage with outdoor DAS deployments and improvements to the outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots it built for Super Bowl XLVI held at Lucas Oil in 2012.

AT&T Infographic about Final Four DAS data use

AT&T Infographic about Final Four DAS data use

Super Cellular Battle II: AT&T, T-Mobile Beef Up Indy Coverage; But What About Twitter?

If your call, text or tweet doesn’t get through from the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, you probably won’t be able to blame the phone companies. Today AT&T and T-Mobile joined Verizon Wireless and Sprint in announcing special plans to increase wireless capacity for the Feb. 5 showdown between New England and New York, which is expected to attract enough folks to completely fill the 70,000-seat Lucas Oil Stadium.

From the info provided so far it looks like AT&T has done the most in terms of bringing wireless resources to the Indy table: According to the press release AT&T is not only expanding the DAS antenna coverage inside the arena, it is also firing up a public Wi-Fi hot zone in the adjacent neighborhood, while also adding some outside DAS deployments as well as driving nine COWs (cell towers on wheels) in for the party. Indy is also one of the select cities where AT&T has launched its new 4G LTE network, so it’s a good guess that the infrastructure there is new and ready to rock. Safe to say, AT&T probably isn’t going to experience a SXSW style cellular fail at the Super Bowl this year.

T-Mobile, the nation’s fourth largest wireless provider, had sort of a me-too feel to its announcement but things like free charging stations (at the T-Mobile store that is near the stadium) and a T-Mobile sponsored relaxation zone with couches and hot beverages might come in handy if you are in the area. T-Mobile says it has also beefed up backhaul inside the stadium and throughout Indianapolis in general, so if you are a T-Mobile customer you should be OK come game day.

Still unanswered is the question of whether or not popular Internet sites like Twitter are making similar infrastructure preparations for the expected surge in traffic. We still haven’t seen any explanation or mea culpas from Twitter in regards to Sunday’s multiple fail whale appearances, other than a small status report that says everything got fixed. As Jim Rome says, better head to Fry’s, guys, and beef up that server farm.

Awesome day for the NFL, terrible day for Twitter. Better hit up Fry’s for a server or two before the Super Bowl.


Jim Rome