Weekend update: Some college football fans seem to ignore Covid-19 precautions

Well, the first “real” weekend of limited-audience experiments in college and pro football is now in the books, and from a fan-compliance standpoint, it is still very much a work in progress. While Mobile Sports Report wasn’t able to be at any of the games live, we did try to keep a finger on the pulse of what was happening via news reports and Twitter posts, the latter of course are always subject to the caveat that sometimes we simply can’t verify the validity of the posts.

But from corroborations on social media and from news reports, it was pretty obvious that at certain venues — especially Florida State and Oklahoma — fans, especially college students, were simply not adhering to the Covid-19 precautions put in place by the venues that were allowing fans to attend.

Since the Florida State game (a 16-13 loss to Georgia Tech) was on national TV on ABC, it was pretty easy for anyone to see that many in the limited-attendance crowd were not paying any attention to rules about masks and social distancing. The Tallahassee Democrat ran a story about the national reaction to the fans, and got this quote from FSU athletic director David Coburn:

“We were disappointed with some fans, particularly some student fans, at the Georgia Tech football game who did not comply with our policies regarding social distancing and wearing masks while in their seats,” FSU Athletic Director David Coburn said Sunday in a statement to the Democrat. “There was ample room for all fans to remain safely distanced. We have three weeks until our next home game, and we will re-double our efforts to both inform our patrons and improve compliance with the new rules.”

The bigger question that goes unanswered, of course, is why there was no attempt to enforce the Covid-19 rules.

Some similar behavior was on display at Oklahoma, where students also seemed to ignore Covid-19 precautions once inside the stadium. A story in the OU Daily has a photograph showing students massing close together, with minimal mask wearing. Though OU had protocols in place — like distance markers at concession stands — an attendee at the game noted that while “many followed the protocols a significant number [of fans] did not.”

Socially distanced fans (and band) at Notre Dame’s home opener. (Screen shot from NBC broadcast)

Notre Dame, on the other hand, seemed to have a better amount of buy-in from students on Covid-19 safety procedures. From what we could tell by watching the NBC broadcast of the Irish’s win over Duke, students (and the band) seemed to be complying well with social distancing in the stands and the wearing of masks.

Were the pro games better?

Two of the NFL games this weekend, including the Thursday night season opener in Kansas City, also allowed a limited number of fans, and as far as we can tell (from tracking Twitter and news reports) fans at those games largely followed the extensive procedures put in place ahead of the games. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who beat the Indianapolis Colts 27-20 in their home opener, had a full web page that described what fans needed to do to help keep everyone safe. With no reports of bad fan behavior in Jacksonville we are assuming most of the fans in attendance complied with the rules.

And while fans at the Kansas City Chiefs’ home opener may have earned some national derision for booing the players’ pregame solidarity moment, from what we could tell it looked like fans in the seats were staying apart and masked. Thanks to the Twitter feed of Tom Proebstle for his posts from Arrowhead.

Gillette Stadium Wi-Fi sees 8.53 TB for AFC championship game, 9.76 TB for Taylor Swift

As we suspected earlier this year, the bar for single-day Wi-Fi data use keeps being pushed up at big events. At Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., this year has seen two new entries for our unofficial all-time Wi-Fi use list, at the AFC Championship Game held back in January, and a summer concert of the Taylor Swift Reputation tour, which has been racking up big Wi-Fi numbers across the country.

According to a blog post from Gillette Wi-Fi gear provider Extreme Networks, the New England Patriots saw 8.53 terabytes of Wi-Fi used by fans at the Jan. 21 AFC Championship game between the Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars, which New England won 24-20. According to Extreme there were 43,020 unique device connections to Wi-Fi during the game, with a peak concurrent connection mark of 37,115 devices, both top marks for the longtime well-connected venue.

Interestingly, the Taylor Swift stop at Gillette on July 27 produced more total data — 9.76 TB, according to Extreme — with fewer connected clients than the AFC Championship game. For the Swift show, Extreme saw 35,760 unique devices connect with the Wi-Fi network, with a top concurrent mark of 27,376 devices. Peak system throughput was also higher for the concert, at 10.7 Gbps compared to 6.3 Gbps for the AFC Championship game. That makes sense, since there are more times during a concert to share social media and other communications compared to a tense football game, where most fans still watch the action while it is happening.

Stay tuned for more big Wi-Fi events! If you have a past event to add to the list, let us know!


1. Super Bowl 52, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 4, 2018: Wi-Fi: 16.31 TB
2. Super Bowl 51, NRG Stadium, Houston, Feb. 5, 2017: Wi-Fi: 11.8 TB
3. Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 6, 2018: Wi-Fi: 10.86 TB
4. Super Bowl 50, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 7, 2016: Wi-Fi: 10.1 TB
5. Taylor Swift Reputation Tour, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., July 27, 2018: Wi-Fi: 9.76 TB
6. Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles, NFC Championship Game, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 21, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.76 TB
7. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots, AFC Championship Game, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 21, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.53 TB
8. Taylor Swift Reputation Tour, Broncos Stadium at Mile High, May 25, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.1 TB
9. Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Sept. 7, 2017: Wi-Fi: 8.08 TB
10. Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys, Divisional Playoffs, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, Jan. 15, 2017: Wi-Fi: 7.25 TB
11. Stanford vs. Notre Dame, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind., Sept. 29, 2018: 7.19 TB
12. (tie) Southern California vs. Notre Dame, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind., Oct. 21, 2017: 7.0 TB
Arkansas State vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Sept 2, 2017: Wi-Fi: 7.0 TB
13. WrestleMania 32, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, April 3, 2016: Wi-Fi: 6.77 TB
14. Wisconsin vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Oct. 7, 2017: Wi-Fi: 6.3 TB
15. Super Bowl 49, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., Feb. 1, 2015: Wi-Fi: 6.23 TB

Jaguars get out of SignalShare deal, turn to PCM for EverBank Field Wi-Fi management

Pregame activity at EverBank Field last weekend. Credit: Jaguars.com.

Pregame activity at EverBank Field last weekend. Credit: Jaguars.com.

When Wi-Fi design and implementation firm SignalShare legally imploded earlier this year, one of the biggest questions that surfaced was — what would happen to teams and stadiums who had contracted with SignalShare to run their Wi-Fi networks? The Jacksonville Jaguars, who a couple years ago announced big plans with SignalShare, have gotten out of their contract with the now-bankrupt SignalShare and have turned to integrator PCM to manage the Wi-Fi network at EverBank Field, team officials said.

Mike Webb, director of IT with the Jaguars, said in a phone interview that the team was “able to terminate” its 3-year deal with SignalShare with help from Wi-Fi gear provider Extreme, which was part of the original deal. PCM has also teamed up with Extreme to run the Wi-Fi network at the Tennessee Titans’ Nissan Stadium. Neither SignalShare nor NFS Leasing has responded to any queries about the legal actions; Extreme Networks has also refused to comment on any specifics of any SignalShare-related deals.

While the original deal called for big plans to bring exclusive content to fans at EverBank Field via SignalShare’s portal software, Webb said that currently there is no stadium-specific or game-day app for Jaguars fans. He also said that Comcast sponsors the Wi-Fi connection (as it does at many other stadiums), with fans logging on by connecting to the xfintitywifi SSID.

Adding more APs for patios, new construction

Currently, EverBank Field has 650 Extreme Wi-Fi APs in the venue, with approximately 450 of those in the seating bowl, Webb said. Over the past offseason, the stadium added Wi-Fi coverage to five new areas, mainly patios outside club areas as well as to the South end zone tunnel, which will eventually connect to the theater that is being built outside the stadium.

For the lower level of seating, Webb said Wi-Fi APs are installed in railing enclosures, while higher-level seats are served by overhead mounts. While Webb said the network initially “had some issues” with 2.4 GHz band activity, the addition of more 5 GHz capacity helped to “vastly increase performance.” The Wi-Fi network now regularly sees 14,000 connections per game, Webb said.

More cellular capacity is also on the way to EverBank Field, as Webb said that two (unnamed) wireless carriers have agreed on a plan to build a DAS in the facility for outside seating coverage.

SignalShare sued for $7.8 million over alleged fraudulent leases

Screen shot of nGage Fan Feed. Credit: SignalShare

Screen shot of nGage Fan Feed. Credit: SignalShare

SignalShare, a company involved in bringing Wi-Fi networks and associated fan-experience apps to stadiums, is being sued by an equipment leasing company over a dispute involving allegedly fraudulent leases by SignalShare, and SignalShare’s default on an agreement to pay back money obtained through those leases. A report on the Law360 website said the case filed in Massachusetts federal court by NFS Leasing of Beverly, Mass., on Jan. 28, 2016, seeks $7.8 million from SignalShare.

SignalShare, which has partnered with Wi-Fi gear vendor Extreme Networks on deployments for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the University of Maryland and the Detroit Red Wings, has most recently touted its Live-Fi nGage suite, a system that combines content, analytics and advertising links to give venue owners and operators a turnkey method to improve fan engagement and perhaps increase revenue opportunities for large-venue Wi-Fi networks.

According to the Law360 story, the lawsuit from NFS Leasing claims that SignalShare “began requesting financing from NFS for purchasing equipment for fictitious contracts,” using forged, altered and falsified documents for deals that didn’t exist. From the Law360 report, which quotes from the legal complaint:

“[SignalShare] would represent to NFS that it had entered into an agreement with a sports arena or team and would induce NFS to provide funding for the acquisition of the allegedly-needed equipment,” the complaint said.

SignalShare would provide fake or forged invoices for the equipment it allegedly ordered, or provide fictitious serial numbers for items allegedly purchased and installed in the fraudulent contracts, the complaint said.

Between May 20, 2014 and May 21, 2015, SignalShare conned NFS into advancing funds on 10 fraudulent lease transactions to the tune of $4.9 million, the complaint said.

The Law360 story also said that NFS Leasing and SignalShare agreed to a short-term repayment of the debts incurred, but that SignalShare defaulted on the payments. With interest and attorney fees, NFS is claiming SignalShare owes $7.8 million.

So far, neither NFS nor SignalShare has replied to a request for more information.

UPDATE, 5/18/16: Since the original post we have obtained more court documents related to the case, which indicate that former SignalShare CTO Joe Costanzo has left the company and is counter-suing SignalShare over its actions regarding this issue. More to come later today.

Stadium Tech Report — NFL stadium technology reports — AFC South

Editor’s note: The following team-by-team capsule reports of NFL stadium technology deployments are an excerpt from our most recent Stadium Tech Report, THE FOOTBALL ISSUE. To get all the capsules in one place as well as our featured reports, interviews and analysis, download your free copy of the full report today.


Reporting by Chris Gallo

Houston Texans
NRG Stadium
Seating Capacity: 71,054
Wi-Fi – No
Beaconing – No

The Houston Texans have lots of holes to fill after a 2-14 season last year. Is a new coach, the number one draft pick to play alongside J.J. Watt, and one of best wideouts and running backs in the game a recipe for success in 2014? We’ll see. One area that won’t improve in 2014 is stadium connectivity. With no Wi-Fi, Texans fans will struggle to check their fantasy stats at games.

Indianapolis Colts

Lucas Oil Stadium
Seating Capacity: 63,000
Beaconing – No

After an exciting home playoff win last season, Colts fans are ready for another promising year. Lucas Oil Stadium enters its sixth season and another year with Wi-Fi upgrades. The facility is another beneficiary of hosting a recent Super Bowl, which brings lots of carrier spending to ensure a quality experience for the big game. There are no specifics on access points or DAS antennas, but the organization is encouraging fans to test the upgrades by watching the last play, checking the latest stats, and sharing photos with friends. Indianapolis is doing everything to make Lucas Oil Stadium the best place to catch the Colts on Sunday.

Jacksonville Jaguars
EverBank Field
Seating Capacity: 67,297
Beaconing – No

Any guesses where the largest video boards are in the world? That’s right. EverBank Field in Jacksonville. The Jaguars installed two video boards that showcase almost 22,000 (!) square feet of digital canvas. The video boards are the highlight of a $63 million dollar renovation to the stadium that also includes not just one – but two swimming pools. Yes, a pool. And cabanas. The Jaguars are teaming up with Extreme Networks and SignalShare to deliver Wi-Fi access to fans for this season. No DAS yet, but expect more upgrades to follow soon at EverBank.

Tennessee Titans
LP Field
Seating Capacity: 69,149
Beaconing – No

Another outfit by Extreme Networks, Titans fans will be able to connect this fall to Wi-Fi at LP Field. It’s a major upgrade from years past, as new owner Tommy Smith continues to deliver on his promise of changes to the organization. The Wi-Fi was expected to be in full use for all home games this NFL season.

Extreme, SignalShare team up for Wi-Fi deployment at Jacksonville Jaguars’ EverBank Field

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 1.24.04 AMExtreme Networks and SignalShare are teaming up to bring a full-featured Wi-Fi deployment to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ EverBank Field for the coming NFL season, in what is perhaps a sign that teams may already be seeking more than just pure connectivity when it comes to putting Wi-Fi in stadiums. In a press release Friday (which was actually pre-announced by the Jaguars on Wednesday), the companies said they have entered into a strategic partnership that will bring both high-density Wi-Fi as well as advanced analytics and network-monetization opportunities to the Jaguars and their 67,246-seat stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.

Extreme is no stranger to the NFL, with deployments of its “IdentiFi” Wi-Fi gear and analytics software already working at the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium and at the Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field. Last month, Extreme announced it would be the primary provider of Wi-Fi services for the Tennessee Titans’ LP Field.

But at Jacksonville, Extreme will be partnering with the much smaller SignalShare, a Raleigh, N.C., concern that has both Wi-Fi integration and deployment expertise, as well as an “audience engagement platform” called “Live-Fi” that the company says “leverages real-time analytics and dynamic messaging to deliver location-aware customized content – including offers, discounts and call-to-actions – to attendees’ mobile devices during events.” SignalShare says it has systems at work for sports clients including the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, and Indiana Pacers, and has also deployed its systems at other large venues and events, including the U.S. Open tennis tournament and several large outdoor concert venues.

New huge video boards at EverBank Field

New huge video boards at EverBank Field

New network, huge video boards… and pools!

Even though much of the sports-tech world is watching the San Francisco 49ers’ technology deployments at the brand-new Levi’s Stadium, the combination of the Extreme/SignalShare network and other enhancements like the two new humongous LED screens at EverBank (and perhaps the two pool party areas) may make the Jaguars’ stadium another tech jewel in the NFL realm. To us the most interesting part of the partnership is its potential to empower network monetization schemes, either through targeted mobile-ad insertions, or some deeper analytic- or location-based network awareness. Though many stadium deals typically involve multiple “silent” partners who do lots of work with little to no public recognition, the very public announcement of this partnership also shows perhaps a maturation of the industry at large in allowing credit (and profits!) to be more equally shared. Let’s see what happens in the near future, eh?

We’ll do our best to get a deeper profile of the hows and whys of the deployment in the near future, but for now some bullet points from the press release should help get the conversation started. According to Extreme and SignalShare, here are some of the key points about the coming deployment:

● Extreme Networks and SignalShare will install the 802.11ac high-density IdentiFi Wireless solution for outdoor venues to provide Wi-Fi access free of charge to all fans at EverBank Field.
● The Extreme Wi-Fi system is designed to allow fans at EverBank Field, which has a seating capacity of over 67,000, the bandwidth to concurrently access and use multimedia applications without interruption.
● Extreme Networks technology will power a dedicated social hub and moderated social feed that will display relevant content from Instagram and Twitter.
● SignalShare’s LiveFi digital network enables the Jaguars to engage and monetize fans by pushing targeted in-browser messaging and advertising to their mobile devices.
● SignalShare is providing the Jaguars consulting and project management for the overall networking deployment, optimization and support.
● Extreme Networks is commitment to enhancing the in-stadium experience for fans and the critical role big data and analytics play in delivering on that goal for today’s highly connected fans.

Party on at the EverBank pools!

Party on at the EverBank pools!

What will be interesting to see is whether or not the Wi-Fi network will extend beyond stadium boundaries (to parking lots and other outside areas), whether it will handle the “overflow” events like the Georgia-Florida game (which can push attendance into the 82,000 mark with temporary seats) and how if at all the Jaguars’ team app will incorporate the new connectivity. (And, what about the DAS deployment?) If any Jags fans have a preseason field report from using the network at EverBank (which we expect has probably already been in operation in some areas) please let us know… and send along any SpeedTest results as well!