Notre Dame hits 7 TB Wi-Fi mark for USC game

A good look at the railing AP enclosures in the east stands of Notre Dame Stadium. Credit: Paul Kapustka, MSR

As we sort of expected, Notre Dame’s Oct. 21 home game versus the University of Southern California produced another new high-water mark for the new Wi-Fi network at Notre Dame Stadium, with 7 terabytes of Wi-Fi traffic seen during the event, according to Notre Dame network officials.

The new network, part of the Campus Crossing remodel of the classic on-campus venue, has been humming all season, starting with a 6.2 TB night on Sept. 9, when the Fighting Irish hosted Georgia. With historical rival USC in the house, however, Notre Dame fans set new records across the board for Wi-Fi use, including most unique clients (27,399), most concurrently connected clients (21,008) and most peak throughput, 5 Gbps. It probably didn’t hurt that Notre Dame crushed the Trojans that day by a 49-14 score, which probably made it into many selfies with the scoreboard in the background.

The 7.0 TB mark puts the Notre Dame-USC game into the No. 5 spot on our unofficial all-time list of single-day Wi-Fi data usage totals, behind just Super Bowls and some recent big-game NFL events. It also gives Notre Dame the No. 1 and No. 2 marks when it comes to collegiate events, at least for now (we’ll be on the lookout for the College Football Playoff championship game this season at Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium).

NOTRE DAME 2017 SEASON WI-FI NETWORK STATS

THE LATEST TOP 10 FOR WI-FI

1. Super Bowl 51, NRG Stadium, Houston, Feb. 5, 2017: Wi-Fi: 11.8 TB
2. Super Bowl 50, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 7, 2016: Wi-Fi: 10.1 TB
3. Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Sept. 7, 2017: Wi-Fi: 8.08 TB
4. Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys, Divisional Playoffs, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, Jan. 15, 2017: Wi-Fi: 7.25 TB
5. Southern California vs. Notre Dame, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind., Oct. 21, 2017: 7.0 TB
6. WrestleMania 32, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, April 3, 2016: Wi-Fi: 6.77 TB
7. Super Bowl 49, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., Feb. 1, 2015: Wi-Fi: 6.23 TB
8. Georgia vs. Notre Dame, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind., Sept. 9, 2017: Wi-Fi: 6.2 TB
9. Alabama vs. Texas A&M, Kyle Field, College Station, Texas, Oct. 17, 2015: Wi-Fi: 5.7 TB
10. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots, AFC Championship Game, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 22, 2017: Wi-Fi: 5.11 TB

Technology and Tradition: How Notre Dame Stadium got its Wi-Fi network

Notre Dame logo on Wi-Fi railing enclosure at Notre Dame Stadium. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

How do you bring new technology into a building and institution that embraces history as an integral part of its brand? There may be many answers but in the sports stadium world, Notre Dame’s renovation of its hallowed football stadium and the addition of high-speed Wi-Fi look like a good example for any other venues trying to solve the same issues.

As part of its $400 million “Campus Crossing” stadium renovation, the University of Notre Dame made adding a high-definition stadium Wi-Fi network a priority, according to Rob Kelly, associate athletics director of ticketing, premium and technology for the school. Though such big projects often face budget trimming en route to completion, Kelly said the network was never on the chopping block.

“I’m pleased to say, Wi-FI was a priority,” said Kelly during an MSR visit in August. “It will power what we want to do for the future. Our vision is greater, and the things we want to do won’t work without the network.”

Future is now for Wi-Fi, video boards, premium seating

Editor’s note: This profile is an excerpt from our latest STADIUM TECH REPORT, our Fall 2017 issue that has in-depth profiles of network deployments at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Colorado State’s new stadium, and the Atlanta Falcons’ new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY of the report today!

An outside look at the new construction surrounding the ‘old’ stadium bowl

Future aside, the new technology reality at Notre Dame Stadium is a huge step forward for a facility that first appeared in 1930, when the legendary coach Knute Rockne led the Fighting Irish football team. Since then the old concrete oval underwent only one significant upgrade, a 1997 enhancement that added another ring to the top of the stadium, boosting capacity from 59,075 to 80,795.

The Campus Crossing project, however, takes Notre Dame Stadium into a new era completely. By basically building three new buildings onto the back of the east, west and south sides of the stadium, Notre Dame added the ability to now have expanded premium club areas and seating sections, added classroom and other office space, and the ability to finally have a huge TV screen to show replays, a big upgrade to the experience from the Notre Dame games of the past.

Thanks to the video board, “we won’t have to text family or friends not at the game to find out if a player was in or out of bounds,” said Kelly. Though the tradition of attending a game in the same facility where legends like Rockne, Ara Parseghian and Joe Montana roamed the field is part of the game-day attraction, Kelly said that Notre Dame fans’ visits to away games made them well aware of amenities that were becoming commonplace elsewhere.

A good look at the railing AP enclosures in the east stands

“That old saying about ‘you don’t know what you don’t have’ just wasn’t true anymore,” said Kelly, who notes that currently most Notre Dame seasons will see the team playing in one or two NFL venues for prime-time contests. Brought in right at the start of the Crossroads project, Kelly said he had to become an “instant expert” on premium seating and on technology, especially on the Wi-Fi front. That wasn’t all bad, since it meant multiple visits to other stadiums to evaluate their technology deployments and seating options.

On the Wi-Fi front, Notre Dame paid special attention to Wi-Fi deployments in Green Bay (since Lambeau Field is similar to Notre Dame Stadium in construction and layout) and in Minnesota, where the new U.S. Bank Stadium had opened. The biggest question for Notre Dame’s Wi-Fi deployment in its no-overhang exposed bowl was about which method would be used — with the early leaders being under-seat or top-down placement of Wi-Fi APs. According to Kelly, a railing-mounted solution like the one used at U.S. Bank Stadium was not originally given much thought, mainly because the lower bowl seating area at Notre Dame Stadium didn’t have any handrails.

Shake down the Wi-Fi … from the railings

Though the new top part of the bowl required handrails for safety regulations when it was added in 1997, the lower bowl was historically exempt from those considerations, Kelly said. Notre Dame information architect John Buysse, one of the leads on the school’s network team, said the first reactions during network planning meetings rejected the idea of Wi-Fi on railings, with debate suggesting that the lower-bowl aisles weren’t wide enough.

Wi-Fi enclosures blend well in the concourse area

Under-seat deployment AP would be a challenge as well, for both the extra cost of drilling more holes through the concrete — many at locations “below grade,” or in the dirt, since the playing field is well below ground level — as well as a lack of space between the floor and the bench seats.

“Whoever had an AP [under the bench] would be miserable,” Buysse said.

Somewhere during the process, however, a survey of alumni found that the lack of railings in the lower bowl was a serious safety concern, especially during the rainy and snowy parts of the season.

“The alumni complained about how difficult it was” to negotiate getting to their lower-bowl seats without any handrails, Buysse said. With the ability to score a double positive with one move — adding handrails for safety and for Wi-Fi — the railing-mounted AP plan moved in for the win.

“It also really helped that Minnesota had done it [handrail deployments] and had success,” said Buysse, who got good performance statistics from the Vikings to back up the railing-mount idea. After seeing those numbers, he said, “any potential concerns went away.”

So far this season, the network has already performed like a winner. For Notre Dame’s Sept. 9 home game against Georgia, the network saw 6.2 terabytes of data used, the highest total ever recorded for a college football game.

Handrail AP mounts, Kelly said, “were better than the alternative of under-seat — it costs less, and there are fewer holes in the concrete.”

It also didn’t hurt, Kelly said, to make a double positive from a single move.

“Adding handrails [for safety] was a positive, and better connectivity was another positive,” Kelly said. And the fact that the enclosures look cool — with a snappy ND logo embossed into each cover — also probably doesn’t hurt.

AmpThink steps up to lead Wi-Fi deployment

The custom AP enclosures with the ND logo embossed into the molded plastic were courtesy of AmpThink, a Dallas-area firm that in most of its previous history had provided its Wi-Fi skills in a specialist or subcontractor role where it had full responsibility for network deployments. But with an increasing amount of experience in its resume — including doing designs for several of the recent Super Bowl networks, as well as new network installs at Texas A&M University and U.S. Bank Stadium, among others — AmpThink bid and won the lead on the Notre Dame Wi-Fi project, another football-size stadium project on a list that also includes the renovated Wi-Fi network at the Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., and the ongoing renovation at the Alamodome in San Antonio, which will host the 2018 NCAA Men’s Final Four.

Fans at a summer scrimmage enjoy the new premium seats

In AmpThink, Notre Dame found a partner not just with technical skills but also with the appreciation with how making things that look good as well as perform well matters. One look at the custom Wi-Fi AP handrail enclosures tells you a lot about this commitment, when you see the sharp, widely recognizable yet understated “ND” logo stamped into each ABS plastic casing.

AmpThink execs showing off the gear during a recent tour pointed out details like the slightly roughened surface, finished that way to keep any scratches from showing. AmpThink also made sure all the logos were horizontal when installed, no small feat with numerous different angles of slope on various railings.

“There are different [railing] angles all over, and only one of the ones AmpThink delivered didn’t match — and they had a spare to fix it on hand,” Buysse said.

“AmpThink has been a tremendous partner,” said Kelly, noting the early help AmpThink provided by bringing in demo units to mock up what the deployment would look like.

Of the 1,096 total Wi-Fi APs in the new network, a full 685 serve the seating bowl, Buysse said. For the below-grade APs located near the bottom of the seating bowl, AmpThink and Notre Dame brought bandwidth to the railings by drilling a trench down the sides of stairways and covering the cables with rubber gaskets afterward. The APs in the bowl are mainly Cisco 3800 units, which have two radios each. Buysse said the bowl network will be exclusively on 5 GHz channels, like many other stadiums these days.

AmpThink’s engineering ingenuity is apparent in other places as well — for flat-ceiling AP locations like those in suites, the firm developed an AP enclosure that can be installed by one person, instead of having to have electricians and other construction specialists teaming up to get all the work done. It might not sound particularly interesting, but when you are installing hundreds of APs in far-flung locations, finding a way to save time on each one ends up being a big benefit in the end.

Even with all the new construction the main concourses of Notre Dame stadium have successfully combined the old hallowed-ground feel with modern amentities like new and more concessions stands, as well as Wi-Fi and DAS antennas painted and mounted in ways to keep them out of direct sight. Our speedtest in the concourse area showed a connection of 70 Mbps on the download and 52 Mbps up. Crown Castle built and operates the neutral-host DAS, which already has AT&T and Verizon Wireless working with T-Mobile set to join in soon.

Though there weren’t any fans on hand yet, our speedtests taken in late August were impressive, with Wi-Fi readings of 69 Mbps on the download and 70 Mbps on the upload in the upper deck benches on the stadium’s east side; we also got a reading of 67.56 / 68.68 inside the new premium club area on the west side; and a test of Verizon DAS connections at 46.68 / 11.39, also on the west side of the stadium.

TV production, mobile app plans ready for the future

The next tale to tell from Notre Dame Stadium may be on the content and application side, where the Fighting Irish are just getting ready to play with their new toys. At the SEAT Conference in Atlanta this summer, Notre Dame execs talked about starting slow with the stadium mobile app, not trying to do too much so that fans wouldn’t be turned off by the approach if features failed. For this season the app will focus mainly on digital ticketing, allowing fans to show tickets, transfer tickets via email, or donate unused tickets back to the university. Kelly said the school will explore using a portal for Wi-Fi login in the future, to “reinforce” the value of the app.

A look at the cabling path drilled alongside stairways for the lower bowl seats

On the video production end, the building on the stadium’s west side provided the space to create a multi-headed content production facility that hosts the new “Notre Dame Studios,” an internal startup of sorts that will centralize all kinds of video and streaming production not just for sports but for all the content being created all over the South Bend, Ind., campus and beyond. For football game days, the production facilities can be used by network crews, who no longer will need to bring a separate production truck to the venue.

For Notre Dame fans, the improvements bring the facility well to the forefront of the connected-stadium world, as well as for premium seating, especially for those with access to the rooftop club areas, where fans can relax on outside couches with an excellent view of the field, a commanding view of the greater South Bend landscape, and excellent connectivity for their mobile devices. All in the old stadium with its sturdy brick-and-concrete foundations, and the statue of Rockne out front, ready to shake down the thunder and then share that experience on Facebook or Snapchat.

“There’s a fine line in finding the balance between aesthetics and performance,” Kelly said. “Leadership understood that we couldn’t compromise the aesthetics of Notre Dame Stadium.”

But, Kelly added, he’s also “never heard that people don’t want better cell coverage.” While the changes may be startling to veteran Notre Dame fans — especially the video board — Kelly thinks the end result will be another positive, as the practice of combining technology and tradition with a commitment to quality becomes apparent.

“I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised,” he said.

Editor’s note: This profile is an excerpt from our latest STADIUM TECH REPORT, our Fall 2017 issue that has in-depth profiles of network deployments at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Colorado State’s new stadium, and the Atlanta Falcons’ new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY of the report today!

Mobilitie brings interim Wi-Fi to L.A. Coliseum

The Los Angeles Coliseum is home to the NFL’s Rams and the University of Southern California. Credit all photos: Terry Sweeney, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

Previously reliant solely on DAS coverage, the Los Angeles Coliseum added Wi-Fi coverage last November in the student section – about 7,500 seats on the bowl’s east side – thanks to a donation of equipment and labor by Mobilitie.

The wireless services provider is also in the process of adding Wi-Fi to two sets of club suites — behind the southern end-zone and on the deck of the Coliseum’s iconic peristyle. These are used by fans of the Los Angeles Rams, the recently relocated NFL franchise playing its second season in the City of Angels. The Rams’ new $2.6 billion stadium is under construction in nearby Inglewood, projected to be done in 2019 and ready for the 2020 NFL season.

In addition to the Rams, the Coliseum is also home field for the University of Southern California’s football team. It’s also slated to be the stadium for the 2028 Summer Olympics, playing host to the world’s athletes for an unprecedented third time.

More renovations coming soon

Editor’s note: This profile is an excerpt from our latest STADIUM TECH REPORT, our Fall 2017 issue that has in-depth profiles of network deployments at Notre Dame Stadium, Colorado State’s new stadium, and the Atlanta Falcons’ new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY of the report today!

Mobilitie’s generosity notwithstanding, all the fan-facing Wi-Fi at the Coliseum is temporary, according to Derek Thatcher, an IT manager for USC, which manages the Coliseum on behalf of the County of Los Angeles. Demolition at the stadium will get underway in January 2018; while much of the bowl’s structure will remain, permanent club suites will be added as will new seating and new aisles with handrails. That will translate to a reduction in bowl capacity from 94,000 to 77,500, according to USC.

Close-up of the under-seat Wi-Fi APs

The $270 million refresh was already underway before LA’s eleventh-hour entry in the Olympics sweepstakes, activated after Boston voted down a bid. The U.S. Olympic Committee has earmarked $175 million for other upgrades at the Coliseum for the quadrennial gathering of the world’s athletes – and broadcasters.

A surprise part of LA’s Olympic bid was a proposal for simultaneous opening ceremonies at two venues, Thatcher explained. Under the USOC’s plan, the visual and logistical extravaganza could be split between the Coliseum and the gleaming new NFL stadium that the Rams will share with the Los Angeles Chargers (formerly of San Diego). Though the Games are more than 10 years away, it’s unclear how the use of two venues would work logistically. But the potential wow factor of such a spectacle is undeniable.

In the meantime, Thatcher, many of his USC counterparts and busloads of subcontractors will have their hands full once the current NFL season ends early next year. Fan-facing Wi-Fi is part of the plan for the Coliseum refresh; no word on which vendors are in the running or when the university will award the Wi-Fi contract.

Another look at the under-seat AP deployment

Gaining insight for the future

The USC Trojan faithful and Rams fans at the Coliseum had been reliant on DAS from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. But Wi-Fi coverage is envisioned from the gates to the concourses and bowl. The Coliseum Wi-Fi will not extend to adjacent parking lots, which are owned by the State of California, not USC, Thatcher added.

And though the equipment and service contract hasn’t been awarded yet, Mobilitie made a smart move with the interim gear it donated – Wi-Fi access points all made by Aruba (now owned by HP Enterprise), the same Wi-Fi gear in use across the rest of USC’s campus. The donated network also gives Mobilitie insight to usage patterns, user habits and engineering challenges that are unique to the venue.

The Coliseum’s renovation is projected to be done by August 2019, though the facility will be useable for home games played by both USC and the Rams in the interim, according to Thatcher.

In the meantime, 166 Aruba APs will power fan-facing Wi-Fi at the Coliseum. Mobilitie installed under-seat APs; rather than drill new conduits or use saw-cuts through stadium concrete, the service provider used low-profile rubber matting to conceal the wiring. Many of the APs are also installed on angled concrete, which helps preserve storage space beneath the seats, a plus for fans and their sacks and packs.

AT&T Stadium, Kyle Field lead in AT&T DAS football traffic

Full house at Kyle Field. Credit: Paul Kapustka, MSR

Two of the biggest stadiums in Texas, the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium and Kyle Field at Texas A&M, have seen the most AT&T cellular traffic on those stadiums’ distributed antenna system (DAS) networks so far this football season, according to AT&T.

According to statistics provided by AT&T, the Cowboys’ home stadium has seen 4.82 terabytes of data for games through Oct. 5, leading all pro stadiums where AT&T has DAS installations. On the college side, Kyle Field has seen a total of 5.80 TB through Oct. 5, tops for university venues. These statistics are only for AT&T customers, and only on in-stadium networks; the numbers do not include macro traffic seen outside stadiums, according to AT&T.

All the college game stats include three home games at each venue; on the pro side, Dallas, Houston and the 49ers stats are from just two home games; Denver and Green Bay stats are from three home games.

Rounding out the top five in the pro stadium list are: NRG Stadium, Houston, 3.89 TB; Lambeau Field, Green Bay, 3.0 TB; Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, 2.92 TB; Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., 2.91 TB.

On the college side, the rest of the top five after Texas A&M are: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La., 5.55 TB; Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C., 4.63 TB; Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 4.27 TB; Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 4.25 TB.

Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium gets new DAS for 2017

DAS antennas seen on flagpoles at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium. Credit: Gary Turner / CWS (click on any photo for a larger image)

Fans at the University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium should finally have cellular connectivity this season, thanks to a new neutral-host DAS installed by Connectivity Wireless Solutions over the past offseason.

Though we don’t have any stats or speed test reports yet, Connectivity Wireless said the DAS was scheduled to begin operation at the start of the season, with fine-tuning taking place during the first few home games. Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular were active on the DAS at the start, according to Connectivity Wireless, with AT&T in testing at the season’s start.

Steven Morris, director of engineering for Connectivity Wireless, said the new DAS is using Corning One gear at the core, and has a mainly fiber infrastructure with coax used only in the “final 30 to 40 feet” for connection to edge gear and antennas. Connectivity Wireless also installed a new DAS at the school’s basketball stadium, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which should also be ready for the upcoming season. According to news reports, the DAS contract for Kinnick is $6 million, while the cost for the network at Carver-Hawkeye is $3 million.

The DAS for the 70,000-seat historic Kinnick Stadium, Morris said, has 13 sectors, and according to news reports, uses approximately 200 antennas. Like many older open-bowl stadiums, deployment at Kinnick was a challenge simply due to its design as well as to the fact the building has historical aesthetic elements, making antenna placement a job with multiple approvals necessary.

Overhead view of the bowl shape of Kinnick Stadium. Credit: University of Iowa

Overcoming aesthetic and design challenges

“There was no real place for antennas,” said Morris, who said Connectivity Wireless found a way to bring coverage to the main bowl seating partially through a strategy of replacing existing flagpoles mounted around the stadium’s edges with new custom-designed poles that had conduit and antenna mounts built in.

“It was a big challenge for us, with lots of approvals to go through,” said Morris. Connectivity Wireless also had to trench fiber from the stadium to the campus’ network head-end, which is located in one of the school’s hospitals about a mile away from Kinnick. All this work needed to be done in the spring and summer, Morris said, since you can’t dig underground in Iowa where winter weather can regularly produce sub-zero temperatures.

With plenty of fiber capacity now in place, Morris said Kinnick Stadium could also eventually install a Wi-Fi network, though it would most likely mean some kind of under-seat AP deployment with its associated coring costs. However, there still may be some legal entanglements regarding any future network deployments, as Iowa is still involved in a lawsuit with American Tower, which it had originally contracted with to build the Kinnick DAS. That 2013 deal, however, was terminated by the university in 2015, and the matter is still being adjucated under a lawsuit filed by American Tower. American Tower would not comment on the status of the lawsuit.

More flagpole-mounted DAS at Kinnick Stadium; Credit both photos: Gary Turner / CWS

New Colorado State stadium has winning Wi-Fi network

Colorado State University has a new on-campus football stadium. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

Even though it’s not completely finished, the Wi-Fi network at Colorado State University’s new football stadium has already shown strong signs of promise, signaling a future with great connectivity for Rams fans at their new on-campus venue.

Being built by integrator 5 Bars, the network is in its final phases of completion, with enough of it turned on to get some positive results in the first two home games for Colorado State this season.

On Aug. 26, during Colorado State’s 58-27 win over visiting Oregon State, a sellout crowd of 37,583 crammed into the new on-campus venue for the Fort Collins, Colo., school. During the inaugural event, the not-yet-finished Wi-Fi network nevertheless saw 5,891 unique connections during the day with a peak concurrent number of 3,680 users at 3 p.m. local time, according to 5 Bars. Even with most of the under-seat Wi-Fi connections not yet online (5 Bars said the network was about at 35 percent capacity), the network still saw 2.7 terabytes of data used, an average of 458 MB per connected user.

Some under-seat Wi-Fi APs needed conduit cored through the concrete steps

A couple weeks later, Mobile Sports Report was in the house for CSU’s second home game, a 38-10 victory over Abilene Christian. With 27,038 fans in attendance, many wearing bright orange to celebrate CSU’s “Ag Day” heritage (the official school colors are green and gold), the network saw 4,548 unique users and 1.8 TB of traffic, according to 5 Bars.

Under-seat coverage impressive

Editor’s note: This profile is an excerpt from our latest STADIUM TECH REPORT, our Fall 2017 issue that has in-depth profiles of network deployments at Notre Dame Stadium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the Los Angeles Coliseum. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY of the report today!

If there is a design tactic that seems to have paid off, it’s 5 Bars decision to go under-seat with Wi-Fi APs in most of the lower seating bowl. With 250 in-bowl APs out of the estimated 419 total APs used in the venue, many are in under-seat enclosures, both in premium areas with seats with backs, as well as in seating areas with metal benches.

And while building a stadium from scratch with Wi-Fi in mind usually means under-seat deployment can be easier, 5 Bars found that in the end it needed to place some APs in different spots, leading to some on-site construction that included coring holes in concrete steps to thread conduit across some aisles. The end result, however, is impressive, with MSR speed tests hitting the mid-50 Mbps and into the 60-Mbps marks for both download and upload speeds in most of the lower bowl seating, with tests taken before the game in an empty stadium.

The on-campus proximity of the new stadium is a welcome change for CSU fans

But even later, with orange-clad CSU fans filling the seats, the working Wi-Fi network still performed admirably, with a 63.58 down and 48.35 up reading in the middle of the student section on the stadium’s east side during the first quarter. Closer to the end of the first quarter, we got a 24.33 / 9.96 reading in the lower section of the west side, the most tightly packed area in the stadium that day.

Light standards and beer gardens

While under-seat placements may be the workhorses at CSU’s new stadium, there are also plenty of overhead APs to fill in the gaps, such as at the top of the lower-bowl sections, mounted underneath the overhang. There are also Wi-Fi APs as well as DAS antennas on the large light standards that top the east stands. Though we didn’t test the DAS network, 5 Bars has a neutral host deployment that currently has Verizon Wireless online, with AT&T and T-Mobile to follow soon. Sprint is scheduled to be added next year, with support for Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum, 5 Bars said.

One thing that makes the new CSU stadium unique is the New Belgium Brewing beer garden that fills the north end zone of the stadium. With several rows of long, stand-up tabletops where fans can sip a beer while watching the game, as well as a bar area behind, the beer garden was already a popular place to hang out, as evidenced by the big line that formed shortly after the stadium opened.

And thanks to the structures over the bar area, the beer garden was well covered by Wi-Fi APs mounted above the taps. Even down in one of the stand-up rows close to the field we were still able to get a Wi-Fi reading of 55.69 down and 24.11 up. We also taste-tested New Belgium’s “Old Aggie Lager,” a brew made specifically by the local company for CSU. It’s crisp and refreshing, especially on a sunny Saturday afternoon. And it goes perfectly with good Wi-Fi.

Fans are able to share social media posts via the new big screen video board

A look at the west stands from the back of the student section

An overhead look at the north end zone beer garden, with a view to the mountains just west of the venue

The beer garden standing area provides an up-close look at the action

As always, Mobile Sports Report tests, tests and tests again