Fiserv Forum’s wireless networks ready for the Democratic Convention

Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum, home of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and also the locale for this summer’s Democratic Convention. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any picture for a larger image)

With one of the most demanding arena-sized events headed its way this upcoming summer, the wireless networks at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum appear to be more than ready to handle any audience demand for mobile connectivity.

With a full-featured distributed antenna system (DAS) deployed and operated by ExteNet Systems using gear from JMA Wireless, as well as a Wi-Fi network using Cisco gear, Fiserv Forum shows both the expertise of wireless providers who have a long history of knowing what works, as well as the foresight to add new techniques and technologies to combine high performance with the quality aesthetics that are the hallmark of the new home of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.

And while a Mobile Sports Report visit this past fall for a Bucks game found all the wireless elements in top working order, the big event for the venue’s second year of operation will be the Democratic National Convention in July 2020. While the four-day nomination gathering is a test for any locale, Fiserv Forum’s forethought on how to prepare for numerous types of events in and around its uniquely designed structure has it well prepared to handle whatever wireless needs the convention will require.

It all starts with the DAS

Editor’s note: This profile is from our latest STADIUM TECH REPORT, which is available to read instantly online or as a free PDF download! Inside the issue are profiles of the new Wi-Fi deployment at the University of Oklahoma, as well as profiles of wireless deployments at Chase Center and the University of Florida! Start reading the issue now online or download a free copy!

Even in these days of predictions of the death of DAS, Fiserv Forum is proof that for high-profile venues, carriers will still participate in a quality deployment. And while many venues have just two or three cellular providers on their DAS, according to ExteNet, the Fiserv Forum DAS has five major carriers participating — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular.

Wi-Fi AP on an outdoor plaza light pole

Unlike some new arenas, where wireless is an afterthought to construction, ExteNet was involved early on, according to Manish Matta, vice president of marketing at Extenet.

“Getting in sooner rather than later is always better,” said Matta, who said ExteNet was well involved in the overall construction plans, ensuring that there were no delays associated with wireless deployments holding up construction of other parts of the building.

During a pregame tour in October with a team from ExteNet as well as with Robert Cordova, chief technology and strategy officer for the Bucks, Mobile Sports Report got an up-close look at some of the inside parts of the DAS network design, including the headend room and multiple antenna installations that were hard to find given their well-designed placements and camouflaging.

In addition to regular enclosures that were painted or otherwise placed in areas out of the main sight lines, ExteNet and JMA also utilized some of the newer circular flat-panel antenna enclosures that fit flush to ceilings, minimizing the exposure.

The 215 DAS antennas are powered by 40 remote units. According to JMA, the remotes are connected to the backbone with optical fiber, and use digital power to bring power to elements up to a mile away. With 16 sectors in the bowl design, the DAS is able to segment coverage to all parts of the arena, including the bowl as well as concourses and other in-house areas.

DAS antenna in a concourse location

ExteNet, which owns and operates the DAS as a neutral host, also installed 10 extra MatSing ball antennas in the rafters for additional top-down coverage. Though only AT&T is using the MatSings right now, ExteNet said they are integrated into the DAS design if other carriers should wish to utilize them in the future.

During a short walk-around before the Bucks game started, MSR got a DAS speedtest of 85.8 Mbps on the download and 14.9 Mbps on the upload, even though our older iPhone (on the Verizon network) doesn’t support all the latest DAS capabilities. Near the start of the game, as the pregame introductions were at their peak, we got a DAS mark of 18.0 Mbps / 15.7 Mbps in the middle of an upper-deck seating area (Section 227) and then a little bit after the game started, we got a mark of 21.3 Mbps / 12.5 Mbps near a bar area on the upper-level concourse.

Wi-Fi inside and out

On the Wi-Fi side of things, a visitor to Fiserv Forum can connect to the network even before coming in the doors, as part of the 623-AP Cisco installation includes Wi-Fi APs mounted on light poles in the “Deer District,” the plaza area on the stadium’s east side that connects to an outdoor beer garden and several bars and restaurants that were all part of the planned environment built in sync with the arena’s opening.

Before we went inside, we got a Wi-Fi speedtest of 40.5 Mbps / 40.2 Mbps in the middle of the Deer District plaza, which was hosting a pop-up haunted house attraction sponsored by Jack Daniels.

Inside the building, we again needed some guidance from the Bucks’ Cordova to locate some of the Wi-Fi APs, which are inside triangular enclosures that are either painted to match wall surfaces, or utilized as high-visibility section number signs, hiding the gear in plain sight.

Wi-Fi AP blended in to the wall covering

In the seating bowl, Fiserv Forum again shows its commitment to aesthetics with the smallest handrail enclosures we’ve ever seen, a discreet hand-sized enclosure that tucks the antenna components neatly into the top part of a railing, with the AP electronics hidden below the seating areas. Designed by integrator Johnson Controls and its ecosystem partners, Abaxent and AccelTex, the 28 special enclosures are also designed to be easy to detatch and re-attach (with something Johnson Controls calls a simple two-click “dart connector”) which facilitates keeping the network working when the lower-bowl seating areas need to be reconfigured for different events.

Sitting in a courtside seat near one of the handrail enclosures about 20 minutes before tipoff, we got a Wi-Fi speedtest mark of 15.8 Mbps / 33.2 Mbps. On the main concourse just after the game’s start we got a Wi-Fi mark of 28.6 Mbps / 60.4 Mbps, and later on at that same upper-concourse bar we got a mark of 39.9 Mbps / 61.1 Mbps.

Later on during the second quarter of the game, we watched another fan in our lower-bowl seating area spend most of the period keeping one eye on Monday Night Football streaming on his phone. “The Wi-Fi is really good here,” he noted.

Looking ahead to CBRS and 5G

As ExteNet and JMA prepare for the onslaught of the convention’s needs, in many areas the Bucks are already looking farther ahead, to future communications improvements including 5G millimeter wave deployments, and a possible introduction of CBRS services. Cordova, who is an advocate of the capabilities of private LTE networks over the CBRS spectrum, said the flexibility of provisioning services in a CBRS environment could be extremely useful for temporary needs, like during last year’s NBA playoffs when the NBA on TNT crew set up a temporary stage out in the plaza.

While the Bucks have already prepared for connectivity of all sorts out on the plaza space – from the top-level outside Panorama deck at Fiserv Forum that lets fans look out over the city, Cordova pointed out several metal boxes in the plaza that have home-run fiber connections for broadcast TV as well as remote power – there’s going to be all sorts of temporary connectivity needs when the convention media tents set up in the empty lot next door where the previous stadium, the Bradley Center, used to stand.

The fact that the Bucks and ExteNet were already well involved with planning for a July event in October the year before is just another sign of a networking operation that is well positioned now and already thinking about what the next necessary steps are.

Robert Cordova, chief technology and strategy officer for the Bucks, in the headend room

MatSing ball antennas point down from the rafters

The Daktronics centerhung video board

Warriors go ‘biggest’ with Chase Center digital displays

The exterior of Chase Center, with its humongous video board. Credit: Brian Nitenson, MSR (click on any picture for a larger image)

With a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build the best basketball arena around, the Golden State Warriors went all in on digital displays at Chase Center, installing the NBA’s largest video board while putting in more pixels overall than any other arena in the league.

The the star of the show is the centerhung video board, a mammoth 9,699-square-foot display from Samsung’s Prismview with 15 separate boards, including ones underneath so the courtside fans don’t have to crane their necks too far upward. While the so-called “chandelier” dominates the view inside the Warriors’ new home, one hint that the Warriors are getting display restraint right is the fact that the board can be completely hidden if so desired, sucked up into a hiding hole in the ceiling. The hide-the-scoreboard trick seems to be proof that the Warriors care enough about the venue experience if it means they have to stow away their favorite toy every now and then.

In a mid-October 2019 visit to Chase Center, Mobile Sports Report can tell you that there is no missing the video displays inside the new $1.4 billion arena, which opened in September 2019 in San Francisco, just south of the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park alongside the San Francisco Bay. With 64 different video boards in total, which according to Samsung includes 53.6 million individual pixels – as well as another 1,100 Samsung LCD TV screens – Chase Center is as digitally visual as can be, with (according to the Warriors) 40 percent more display screen area than any other comparable-size venue.

The most pixels inside

Editor’s note: This profile is from our recent Venue Display Report, which you can view in its entirety online, with embedded videos and much better photography! You can also read about Chase Center’s wireless networking in our recent Stadium Tech Report, also available for instant online reading! When it comes to technology at Chase Center, there is no better in-depth resource than Mobile Sports Report!

The impressive Chase Center centerhung video board from Samsung’s Prismview. Credit all following photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

The display deployment actually starts outside Chase Center, where at the western entry there sits a 74-foot by 42-foot screen that welcomes fans to the arena. The outdoor video board, according to the Warriors the only live video screen in the city, faces an interesting bit of architecture, a stand of steps that will serve as a de facto outdoor gathering space, a feature many stadiums are incorporating lately. Just inside that entryway sits another visual treat, a wide high-definition (1.5mm pitch) video board that provides instant connection to whatever event is taking place, whether it be a Warriors game or a concert.

Inside the main bowl, the centerhung video board dominates all views, with its incredibly crisp (6.7mm pixel pitch) main screens. While all the numbers can be staggering, according to Warriors president and COO Rick Welts, the team didn’t install the biggest and brightest displays simply to win some kind of imaginary tech title.

Instead, he claims, it’s all about creating the best possible fan experience for a following that represents a unique confluence of events, namely the economic success of Silicon Valley and the recent run of NBA championships by the Warriors.

Keeping the focus on the game, or the event

“There’s no doubt we are in an arms race (in regards to stadium technology) but we didn’t want to let that drive us,” said Welts, who was our guide for a media tour of Chase Center in October. But it’s also worthwhile to note that there are probably less than a handful of other professional or college teams who could currently match the Warriors’ unique combination of a rabid fan base with immense amounts of disposable income.

In a day and age when most new venues are built with at least some kind of public tax money, the Warriors’ new $1.4 billion home was entirely privately financed, helped along by things like the new courtside premium suites, which come with their own wine locker and wine butler, and cost around $2 million per year, according to Welts.

Upper-deck seating has an extra LED board to provide more stats

“It’s just what you can do when you combine the hottest economic model in the world [in Silicon Valley] with an amazing team,” said Welts, who noted that the courtside suites all sold out. “I would not recommend this format for most teams.”

But even with more blinking lights than any other facility, the Warriors seem very conscious about not making the venue seem like the Las Vegas strip, or New York’s Times Square. Instead, the team wants to make sure that all its digital-board messaging contributes to the moment, whether that moment is a Warriors’ game or a concert or some other type of show.

“The trick is to strike a balance, between commercial content and Warriors content,” said Mike Kitts, the Warriors’ senior vice president for partnerships. According to Kitts, the Warriors are working with sponsor partners to create digital messages that are at least what he calls “Warrior-esque” – such as combining some kind of basketball theme to advertising messages.

“You want something that feels authentic to the moment,” Kitts said.

Feeding the content beast with things fans want

When the San Francisco Giants installed a new huge video board at Oracle Park this past season, the Giants’ team had an interesting problem in deciding what kind of information to include on all the new space.

Similarly, the Warriors’ expansive digital canvas gives the team the ability to indulge the geekiest of hoops junkies with incredibly specific information – while also trying not to overwhelm the average fan.

“What we want to do is provide all the things that fans say, ‘I want.’ “ Kitts said. At a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers the Chase Center screens not only provided the regular kind of statistical information (shots made and missed) for players on the court, they also had some changing screens that could do tricks like show exactly where on the court a player just made a shot from – and what that player’s “heat check” stats were for all shots taken so far that game.

Can you see me? The centerhung video board can disappear into the rafters as needed

“We are continually programming [the displays],” said Paul Hawkins, the executive producer of the Warriors’ in-house content team, called Warriors Studio. “It’s a huge challenge for us as content creators to make this come to life.”

To that end, the Warriors have assembled what is probably also the largest team of content creators and programmers. With 23 full-time employees and another 15 part-time contributors (“and that doesn’t count the freelancers”), the Warriors think they may have the NBA’s biggest in-house content creation team, though they say the Miami Heat may have just as many.

If that seems like an excessive number, remember the stats from the start of the story – with 64 different LED boards, the math to make a single sponsor’s message fit all the different screen dimensions for an arena-wide “moment of exclusivity” is a much different challenge at Chase Center than at other arenas.

And even while back in October the content team admitted it was still “not perfect yet” at dialing in its on-screen workflows, from attending both a Phil Collins concert and the Warriors game on back-to-back nights, MSR can attest that the ability to change looks and feels based on what’s on (or not on) the digital displays can significantly improve the attendee experience – including not seeing the huge centerhung display at all when we sat and listened to Phil Collins and his band playing all the hits from the musician’s vast historical library.

From our limited exposure, we still think the Golden State Warriors did what they wanted to at Chase Center when it comes to digital displays: They used the biggest and best technology, but did it in a way where the technology isn’t the star – but the experience it allows is.

Displays in the luxury suites can be programmed to a point-of-view camera from the owners’ seats


All the display stats, courtesy of Samsung’s own screen

The high-definition lobby display

Concessions menus offer live action, advertisements and menu prices

Sometimes, a non-digital display works just as well

New Report: Oklahoma leads the way with Wi-Fi 6

MOBILE SPORTS REPORT is pleased to announce the Winter 2019-20 issue of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series, the ONLY in-depth publication created specifically for the stadium technology professional and the stadium technology marketplace.

Our latest issue contains an in-person report on the new Wi-Fi 6 network installed at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, and another in-person visit to see and test the new Wi-Fi network at Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, aka “The Swamp.” This issue also has an in-person look at the wireless networks at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum and at Chase Center, the new San Francisco home of the Golden State Warriors.

You can READ THE REPORT LIVE right now in our new flip-page format, with no registration required! (Great for tablets and big phone reads!) You can also DOWNLOAD THE REPORT in PDF format as well!

We’d like to take a quick moment to thank our sponsors, which for this issue include Mobilitie, JMA Wireless, Corning, Boingo, MatSing, Cox Business/Hospitality Network, Oberon, and ExteNet Systems. Their generous sponsorship makes it possible for us to offer this content free of charge to our readers. We’d also like to welcome readers from the Inside Towers community, who may have found their way here via our ongoing partnership with the excellent publication Inside Towers. We’d also like to thank the SEAT community for your continued interest and support.

As always, we are here to hear what you have to say: Send me an email to kaps@mobilesportsreport.com and let us know what you think of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series.

Biggest NBA video board at Chase Center profiled in our latest VENUE DISPLAY REPORT!

Mobile Sports Report is pleased to announce the third issue of our new VENUE DISPLAY REPORT, with in-depth profiles of display technology at Chase Center, the new home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and Fiserv Forum, new home of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. No need to sign up or register — just click on the image below and start reading the issue today!

A new vertical-specific offering of MSR’s existing STADIUM TECH REPORT series, the VENUE DISPLAY REPORT series will focus on telling the stories of successful venue display technology deployments and the business opportunities these deployments enable. Like its sibling Stadium Tech Report series, the Venue Display Report series will offer valuable information about cutting-edge deployments that venue owners and operators can use to inform their own plans for advanced digital-display strategies.

Our reporting and analysis will be similar to that found in our popular STR series, with stadium and venue visits to see the display technology in action, and interviews and analysis with thought leaders to help readers better inform their upcoming technology purchasing decisions. And in case you are new to the MSR world, rest assured that all our VDR reports will be editorially objective, done in the old-school way of real reporting. We do not accept paid content and do not pick profiles based on any sponsorship or advertising arrangements.

Our third VDR issue takes an in-depth look at the display deployment at Chase Center, where the NBA’s largest main video board (from Samsung’s Prismview) leads the largest-ever deployment of LED pixels in and around any single venue. And at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum, learn how the striking Daktronics displays combine with the management power of Cisco’s Cisco Vision Dynamic Signage solution to give the Bucks a powerful platform for audience engagement and sponsor activation. Start reading the issue now! No registration needed!

As venues seek to improve fan engagement and increase sponsor activation, display technology offers powerful new ways to improve the in-stadium fan experience. While these topics are of prime interest to many of our long-term audience of stadium tech professionals, we suggest that you share the link with colleagues on the marketing and advertising sales side of the house, as they will likely find great interest in the ROI enabled by strategic display system deployments.

Sponsorship spots are currently available for future VDR series reports; please contact Paul at kaps at mobilesportsreport.com for media kit information.

New Report: Wi-Fi arrives at Ohio Stadium

MOBILE SPORTS REPORT is pleased to announce the Fall 2019 issue of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series, the ONLY in-depth publication created specifically for the stadium technology professional and the stadium technology marketplace.

Our latest issue contains an in-person report on the new Wi-Fi 6 network installed at Ohio Stadium, which is already the top collegiate Wi-Fi network in the country, producing record results. This issue also has an in-person profile of the Wi-Fi network at the new Las Vegas Ballpark, as well as a “first look” at Chase Center, the new home of the Golden State Warriors! Download your FREE copy today!

Inside the report our editorial coverage includes:
— An in-depth look at the new Wi-Fi 6 network installed at Ohio State University’s Ohio Stadium;
— An in-person report on the Wi-Fi network at the ‘hottest’ stadium in minor league baseball, the Las Vegas Ballpark;
— A look at the single, converged fiber network infrastructure at the soon-to-open Dickies Arena in Fort Worth;
— A “First Look” at the Chase Center, the new home of the Golden State Warriors.

Download your free copy today!

We’d like to take a quick moment to thank our sponsors, which for this issue include Mobilitie, JMA Wireless, Corning, Boingo, MatSing, Cox Business/Hospitality Network, Connectivity Wireless, and American Tower. Their generous sponsorship makes it possible for us to offer this content free of charge to our readers. We’d also like to welcome readers from the Inside Towers community, who may have found their way here via our ongoing partnership with the excellent publication Inside Towers. We’d also like to thank the SEAT community for your continued interest and support.

As always, we are here to hear what you have to say: Send me an email to kaps@mobilesportsreport.com and let us know what you think of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series.

First Look: Inside Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors’ new home

The exterior of Chase Center, with its humongous video board. Credit all photos: Brian Nitenson, MSR (click on any picture for a larger image)

The first event is coming up fast, but Mobile Sports Report got a sneak peek inside Chase Center, the new home of the Golden State Warriors, thanks to the photographic efforts of one of our “field scout” team members, Brian Nitenson, who attended a season ticket-holders event this weekend. Our first reaction to the photo stream is simply ‘wow!,’ and we can’t wait until we can see an event there live.

Since the wireless networks aren’t really fully operational yet we don’t have any speed tests from Brian’s visit but from his pictures we can see multiple Wi-Fi and DAS antenna deployments so it’s a safe bet that the connectivity will be first-rate. There is also some hint of advanced technology being used in the concessions department — note the photo of a sign instructing fans toward a credit-card kiosk operation — which makes sense given the main business of the arena’s title sponsor.

Much more coverage from Chase Center to follow this fall, but for now take a look at the NBA’s newest arena, a privately financed jewel on the San Francisco bay.


A good look at the Samsung center-hung scoreboard


One of the under-seat antenna deployments


Kiosk ordering! More good news as technology hits the concession stand

This is what the scoreboard looks like from seats you will never be able to afford

One of the club areas

Part of the striking architecture in the entry area

Antennas painted to blend in

Some interesting gear in the top catwalk areas

Some of the upper level ‘theater box’ seating

Lots of Wi-Fi and DAS antennas visible covering the upper decks

Scoreboard and ribbon board view from seats higher up

A nice view out to the bay

Do I spy Wi-Fi way up high?

A wide look at the big screen