Nationwide Arena tops 1.3 Terabytes in weekend wireless traffic for NCAA games

Nationwide Arena. Photos Credit: Columbus Blue Jackets

Nationwide Arena. Photos Credit: Columbus Blue Jackets

Like big events in other sports, the opening rounds of the popular NCAA men’s basketball tournament are producing lots of wireless data use by fans at the games, with one venue — Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio — recording more than 1.3 terabytes of combined Wi-Fi and DAS traffic during its two days of competition.

With second- and third-round games on Friday, March 22 and Sunday, March 24, Nationwide Arena saw 844 total GB of data on its internal Wi-Fi network, according to neutral host operator Mobilitie. The traffic was significantly higher for Sunday’s games, which featured Oklahoma’s win over Dayton and West Virginia’s victory over Maryland, with 711 GB of Wi-Fi traffic on Sunday that followed 133 GB used on Friday.

On the Nationwide Arena DAS, also hosted by Mobilitie, AT&T reported an additional 459 GB of traffic for its customers over the two days of competition, a total of 1.303 TB of combined Wi-Fi and AT&T DAS traffic. DAS traffic for customers of other wireless carriers was not reported.

For AT&T, only the KFC Yum! Arena in Louisville, Ky., had more AT&T DAS traffic for the opening round games, with a total of 515 GB used by AT&T customers over the two days of competition there. Other arenas with AT&T DAS reports included the Moda Center in Portland, Ore., (409 GB) and the Consul Energy Center in Pittsburgh (408 GB). We are still waiting for Wi-Fi reports from those arenas, if we get them we will update this post.

NCAA Tournament Wi-Fi and DAS: Send us your stats!

Nationwide Arena. Photos Credit: Columbus Blue Jackets

Nationwide Arena. Photos Credit: Columbus Blue Jackets

Given that the games are numerous and spread out far and wide, it’s our guess that wireless-data consumption totals from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament regional sites are not quite approaching the “big game” numbers of say, a Super Bowl or the recent College Football Playoff championship game. Still, there are probably some interesting peaks and totals so as an open request to all involved, please send us any and all Wi-Fi and DAS stats from the weekend’s games and we’ll compile a list of what we get next week.

AT&T, as usual, was in with some early numbers, namely the DAS stats for the AT&T network in place at the University of Dayton Arena, where the first-round play-in games were held earlier this week. According to AT&T it saw 144 gigabytes of data used on the DAS during the four games over two days, again not Super Bowl numbers but still a big chunk of data and something to think about if your facility is planning to host a similar “big event” in the near future.

So who’s got Wi-Fi and who doesn’t for the NCAA sites? Our unofficial list is as follows:

Wi-Fi for fans available:
KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky
Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh
Moda Center, Portland
Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
Staples Center, Los Angeles
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

No Wi-Fi
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville
CenturyLink Center Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska
KeyArena, Seattle
NRG Stadium, Houston

If any MSR readers are out at the games, send us a speedtest…

Stadium Tech Report: NBA, NHL teams deploying more Wi-Fi without league-wide help

Hoops and hockeySo who needs a league-wide stadium networking strategy, anyway? Neither the NBA nor the NHL has such a beast, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping the deployment of fan-facing Wi-Fi services that now reach almost every NBA arena and almost two-thirds of NHL venues.

That’s one of the main themes explored by our latest STADIUM TECH REPORT, the HOOPS AND HOCKEY ISSUE, now available for free download from our site. If you’re new to our site, our quarterly long-form reports are designed to give stadium and large public venue owners and operators a way to dig deep into the topic of stadium technology, via exclusive research and some profiles of successful stadium technology deployments.

We’d like to take a quick moment to thank our sponsors, which for this issue include Mobilitie, Crown Castle, SOLiD, CommScope, TE Connectivity, Extreme Networks, Aruba Networks, and JMA Wireless. Their generous sponsorship makes it possible for us to offer this content free of charge to our readers.

In this issue we take a look at NBA and NHL arenas, with profiles on how some of the leading teams and stadium owner/operators are using technology to improve the fan experience, even without a stated, public direction on stadium technology from their respective leagues. What did we discover? First, that the lack of such strategies may not be such a bad thing, with 24 out of 29 NBA venues and 19 out of 30 NHL venues all offering some comprehensive form of free fan-facing Wi-Fi.

And while the lack of a single strategic direction also means there’s a bit of chaos when it comes to picking technology or building a team app strategy, we also think that scramble could also be a bonus right now, providing more choice and competitive pricing as the industry starts to grow as a whole. Inside our 40-page-plus issue you’ll find four in-depth profiles of Wi-Fi and DAS networking deployments, and the kinds of things those deployments make possible, like greater granularity when it comes to knowing who the fans are. There’s also analysis on the situation from yours truly and some key thinking on DAS deployment strategies from industry thought leader Seth Buechley. Again, all this is yours for the free reading, just download your copy today!

Stadium Tech Report: Mobilitie adds Wi-Fi to DAS at Columbus Blue Jackets’ Nationwide Arena

Nationwide Arena. Photos Credit: Columbus Blue Jackets

Nationwide Arena. Photos Credit: Columbus Blue Jackets

Like a team adding a star player to its roster, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nationwide Arena will kick off their NHL All-Star Game showcase season this week with a new fan-facing Wi-Fi network from Mobilitie, adding to the DAS deployment previously installed by the same company.

The new network, which will use 263 access points from Wi-Fi gear vendor Aruba Networks, is set to go live for the Blue Jackets’ home opener on Oct. 11 against the New York Rangers. According to Jim Connolly, director of IT for the Blue Jackets, having the necessary wireless infrastructure in place is just the first step in a gradual expansion of features designed to enhance the fan experience inside Nationwide Arena. It also corrects a familiar problem with many existing large public facilities, the not-able-to-get-a-signal issue.

“Three or four years ago we noticed a big increase in mobile device use by our fan base,” said Connolly in a recent phone interview. “On the business side of the house we also realized that when the building was full, we had communication issues. You would try to make a [cellular] call, and it would never go through.”

Neutral host the only direction forward

Jim Connolly, director of IT, Columbus Blue Jackets

Jim Connolly, director of IT, Columbus Blue Jackets

Connolly said the decision to go with Mobilitie, with its extensive history of neutral-host DAS deployments, was in part due to the organization’s desire to steer clear of carrier-specific DAS infrastructures. Even though most major carriers will say they are capable of hosting other carriers on a DAS, there are also many known cases of carriers not working well together.

“If you go with a carrier DAS, you have the possibility of isolating part of your fan base,” said Connolly, explaining the team’s desire to use a neutral host for its DAS. What helped seal the deal for Mobilitie was its willingness to also build the Wi-Fi network for no cost to the team. Though DAS helps eliminate most cellular connectivity issues inside large venues, Connolly said the Blue Jackets were “leaning” to having both Wi-Fi and DAS.

“Bringing both Wi-Fi and DAS really elevated their [Mobilitie’s] bid,” Connolly said.

Ready for the All-Star Game

After deploying the DAS in April of 2013, Mobilitie and the Blue Jackets got the Wi-Fi installed over the last offseason, just in time for the year the team will be hosting the NHL All-Star Game and associated celebrations, on Jan. 24-25, 2015.

Hockey at Nationwide Arena

Hockey at Nationwide Arena

“The All-Star Game was definitely a motivator” to get the network finished, Connolly said. “We want to showcase the arena, let fans share via social media and not have any problems with connecting.”

Following the All-Star Game, Nationwide Arena will also host second- and third-round games for the 2015 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, just another of the 200 to 225 events that fill the 18,500-seat arena (it seats more for basketball and concerts) on a yearly basis.

Opened in 2000, the facility was new enough that network installation wasn’t a huge issue, Connolly said.

“It’s a beautiful building — the DAS and Wi-Fi deployments were pretty straightforward, with room for conduits and space available for the head end room,” Connolly said. “It was relatively painless. We were fortunate enough to have adequate space.”

Building in features as you go

Another plus to having a combined provider for both DAS and Wi-Fi is the ability to have a more integrated view of what fans are using the networks for, via analytics.

“We want to be able to see who’s in the building, and who’s doing what,” Connolly said. “Do they want social networking? Do they want food and beverage deals? Do they want to see replays? The analytics will be able to tell us what’s going on.”

While the current Blue Jackets team app is mainly static information — there is a live audio feed and some live stats available — Connolly said that now that the Wi-Fi network is live, more features like live video and in-seat food ordering, or seat upgrades, can be considered.

“We’ll be trying to figure out how to incorporate more in-game aspects, such as giving more access to those who are here in the arena,” said Connolly, also mentioning the possibilities of adding live video, replays, or online concessions. “Over the course of the first year, that’s something we will be figuring out.”

Drop the puck, hockey's back!

Drop the puck, hockey’s back!