Ohio State adds another top-5 Wi-Fi day; Nebraska, Mile High also add to list

Even in the middle of a game-long rainstorm, fans at Ohio Stadium for Ohio State’s 38-7 victory over visiting Wisconsin on Oct. 25 still used 17.0 terabytes of data on the stadium’s new Wi-Fi network, a total that is the fourth-highest number we know of in our ongoing unofficial tally of big stadium Wi-Fi events.

According to figures provided to us by Ohio State, there were 61,997 unique devices connected to the Wi-Fi network during the Wisconsin game, with a peak concurrent connection mark of 35,074. Though still one of the biggest Wi-Fi days ever, the Wisconsin numbers did not hit the record levels set earlier this fall when Michigan State played at Ohio Stadium and a record 25.6 TB of data was seen on the network.

Editor’s note: You can now read our Stadium Tech Report profile of the new Ohio State network instantly online, with no registration or email address needed! JUST CLICK RIGHT HERE and start reading our latest report today!

More Wi-Fi at Mile High, and Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium

The stadium now known as Empower Field at Mile High also saw some recent big Wi-Fi days, including a couple concerts and a couple Denver Broncos home games. According to statistics provided to us by Russ Trainor, senior vice president for IT for the Broncos, the new top mark at the venue came during a Garth Brooks concert on June 8, 2019, with 12.63 TB used (now good for 10th on the new version of the Wi-Fi list, below). The Garth Brooks show also produced a record number for unique connections at Mile High, with 48,442 devices on the network.

The recently refreshed Wi-Fi network at Mile High seems to be producing regular totals in the 8-9 TB range, as Trainor said several other events this year crested the 8 TB mark, including 8.98 TB for an Oct. 13 game against the Tennessee Titans; 8.47 TB for a Rolling Stones concert on Aug. 10; and 8.09 TB for a Sept. 15 game against the Chicago Bears. The Bears game saw a Mile High record set for most concurrent Wi-Fi connections, at 37,163, while the Stones concert saw the highest stadium throughput mark, at 22.5 Gbps. According to Trainor the 8+ TB average event data marks at Mile High are up from an average in the 6 TB range a year ago.

At Nebraska, whose network we profiled a year ago, a similar range of Wi-Fi traffic days has been seen at home games this fall, with a high-water mark of 11.2 TB seen in and around the stadium on Sept. 28, when ESPN’s College Gameday was in town for the Ohio State-Nebraska matchup. According to statistics provided to us by Dan Floyd, director of IT for Nebraska Athletics, and Andrew Becker, Nebraska venue technology specialist, Memorial Stadium also saw 9.2 TB for a Oct. 5 game with Northwestern, and 8.5 TB for a Sept. 14 game with Northern Illinois, and 8.3 TB for the Aug. 31 home opener against South Alabama.

For the Ohio State game, Nebraska said it saw a top peak concurrent connected user number of 38,062, out of 89,759 in attendance that day.

New list coming soon!

On a final note for this post, please enjoy the “final” version of our all-time Wi-Fi list below, in its current format. Stay tuned for a post (coming soon) explaining some new thinking we are going to put into place regarding venue Wi-Fi totals reporting, an idea that will try to encompass some of the great and varied feedback we’ve been getting all fall. In that post we will finally explain why the current list keeps expanding without a bottom… and what new figures we think may be more interesting than just total tonnage. Stay tuned!

THE MSR TOP 36 FOR WI-FI

1. Michigan State vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 5, 2019: Wi-Fi: 25.6 TB
2. Super Bowl 53, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 3, 2019: Wi-Fi: 24.05 TB
3. NCAA Men’s 2019 Final Four semifinals, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn., April 6, 2019: Wi-Fi: 17.8 TB
4. Wisconsin vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 25, 2019: Wi-Fi: 17.0 TB
5. Super Bowl 52, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 4, 2018: Wi-Fi: 16.31 TB
6. Miami (Ohio) vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 21, 2019: Wi-Fi: 13.7 TB
7. NCAA Men’s 2019 Final Four championship, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn., April 8, 2019: Wi-Fi: 13.4 TB
8. Florida Atlantic vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 31, 2019: Wi-Fi: 13.3 TB
9. Cincinnati vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 7, 2019: Wi-Fi: 12.7 TB
10. Garth Brooks Stadium Tour, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo., June 8, 2019: Wi-Fi: 12.63 TB
11. 2018 College Football Playoff Championship, Alabama vs. Georgia, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 8, 2018: Wi-Fi: 12.0 TB
12. Auburn vs. Florida, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla., Oct. 5, 2019: Wi-Fi: 11.82 TB
13. Super Bowl 51, NRG Stadium, Houston, Feb. 5, 2017: Wi-Fi: 11.8 TB
14. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Sept. 8, 2019: Wi-Fi: 11.58 TB
15. Ohio State vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Sept 28, 2019: Wi-Fi: 11.2 TB
16. Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 6, 2018: Wi-Fi: 10.86 TB
17. Super Bowl 50, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 7, 2016: Wi-Fi: 10.1 TB
18. Taylor Swift Reputation Tour, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., July 27, 2018: Wi-Fi: 9.76 TB
19. Northwestern vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Oct. 5, 2019: Wi-Fi: 9.2 TB
20. Tennessee Titans vs. Denver Broncos, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo., Oct. 13, 2019: Wi-Fi: 8.98 TB
21. Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles, NFC Championship Game, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 21, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.76 TB
22. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots, AFC Championship Game, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 21, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.53 TB
23. Northern Illinois vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 14, 2019: Wi-Fi: 8.5 TB
24. Rolling Stones No Filter Tour, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo., Aug. 10, 2019: Wi-Fi: 8.47 TB
25. South Alabama vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Aug. 31, 2019: Wi-Fi: 8.3 TB
26. Taylor Swift Reputation Tour, Broncos Stadium at Mile High, May 25, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.1 TB
27. Chicago Bears vs. Denver Broncos, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo., Sept. 15, 2019: Wi-Fi: 8.09 TB
28. Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Sept. 7, 2017: Wi-Fi: 8.08 TB
29. SEC Championship Game, Alabama vs. Georgia, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 1, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.06 TB
30. Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys, Divisional Playoffs, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, Jan. 15, 2017: Wi-Fi: 7.25 TB
31. Stanford vs. Notre Dame, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind., Sept. 29, 2018: 7.19 TB
32. (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
33. Tennessee vs. Florida, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla., Sept. 21, 2019: Wi-Fi: 6.94 TB
34. WrestleMania 32, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, April 3, 2016: Wi-Fi: 6.77 TB
35. Wisconsin vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Oct. 7, 2017: Wi-Fi: 6.3 TB
36. Super Bowl 49, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., Feb. 1, 2015: Wi-Fi: 6.23 TB

Wi-Fi 6 research report: Download it now!

As a service to our readers Mobile Sports Report is making the Wi-Fi 6 Research Report we offered earlier this summer as a standalone download, for easier reading, consumption and sharing. Download the report here and start learning more about Wi-Fi 6 today!

With a wide range of technical improvements, Wi-Fi 6 will greatly advance the entire Wi-Fi ecosystem, for all types of uses. But for venue networks the new features are especially important, since Wi-Fi 6 will allow network operators to significantly improve each of the three main things that matter when it comes to in-venue network performance: it will increase the amount of available spectrum and number of channels; it will increase the average data rate for clients; and it will increase the ability to re-use channels in your space. What can Wi-Fi 6 do for your venue network? Find out now by downloading your free copy today!

The Wi-Fi 6 report encapsulated in this report is a joint effort between MSR and our friends at AmpThink, something that grew out of conversations about how to bring more forward-looking expertise on topics like Wi-Fi 6 to the MSR reader audience.

While the meat of this report is based on a Wi-Fi 6 presentation and essay developed by AmpThink, MSR helped clarify the material to make it fit into the report format, with the idea that this report would be just a starting point for deeper discussions into each of the relevant features that we think make Wi-Fi 6 a compelling technology for venues to consider.

More Wi-Fi 6 material coming soon!

When it comes to Wi-Fi 6 and venues, consider Mobile Sports Report your starting point for research, news, analysis and in-depth reporting. In an effort to get as many voices as possible into the discussion, we will also feature more podcasts about the topic — if you haven’t listened yet, our podcast discussion with Aruba’s Chuck Lukaszewski on Wi-Fi 6 is a great place to start.

Look for more profiles of Wi-Fi 6 networks coming soon — and if you want to read about one recent deployment with a lot of Wi-Fi 6 gear that is making headlines this fall, read our Stadium Tech Report profile of the new network at Ohio State — which you can now read online for free (no registration required) or download a PDF version of the report as well.

Ohio State sees 13.3 TB of Wi-Fi data used at home opener

The Ohio Stadium scoreboard tells fans how to use the new Wi-Fi network. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any picture for a larger image)

With almost 2,000 access points and the possibility of more than 100,000 Ohio State fans logging on, it was a good bet to think that the new Wi-Fi network at Ohio Stadium would produce some big numbers when it went live. And now, we have numbers to back up that bet, as according to the school, the new Wi-Fi network saw 13.3 terabytes of data used during the season home opener Aug. 31 vs. Florida Atlantic.

We’ll have a full profile of the network from our in-person visit to the home opener in our upcoming Fall Stadium Tech Report issue, but we wanted to share these numbers with our readers as soon as we got them, because we know interest in the network at “the Horseshoe” is high. Using Wi-Fi gear from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, in a design and deployment by AmpThink, the network saw 47,137 unique connections at the hope opener, out of 103,228 fans in attendance. The peak concurrent connection number for the day was 28,900, according to the school.

The network performed similarly a week later in a home game against Cincinnati, with 12.7 TB recorded from 47,579 unique connections (out of 104,089 in attendance). The peak concurrent connection number for the second game was 29,500, according to the school.

The big, open lower bowl at Ohio Stadium was covered mainly by handrail AP enclosures, of which there are approximately 600 across all levels of the stadium, many with two APs in each enclosure. Look for more details (and lots more pictures!) in our upcoming profile!

One of the AmpThink AP enclosures at the home opener

THE MSR TOP 23 FOR WI-FI

1. Super Bowl 53, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 3, 2019: Wi-Fi: 24.05 TB
2. NCAA Men’s 2019 Final Four semifinals, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn., April 6, 2019: Wi-Fi: 17.8 TB
3. Super Bowl 52, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 4, 2018: Wi-Fi: 16.31 TB
4. NCAA Men’s 2019 Final Four championship, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn., April 8, 2019: Wi-Fi: 13.4 TB
5. Florida Atlantic vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 31, 2019: Wi-Fi: 13.3 TB
6. Cincinnati vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 7, 2019: Wi-Fi: 12.7 TB
7. 2018 College Football Playoff Championship, Alabama vs. Georgia, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 8, 2018: Wi-Fi: 12.0 TB*
8. Super Bowl 51, NRG Stadium, Houston, Feb. 5, 2017: Wi-Fi: 11.8 TB
9. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Sept. 8, 2019: Wi-Fi: 11.58 TB
10. Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 6, 2018: Wi-Fi: 10.86 TB
11. Super Bowl 50, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 7, 2016: Wi-Fi: 10.1 TB
12. Taylor Swift Reputation Tour, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., July 27, 2018: Wi-Fi: 9.76 TB
13. Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles, NFC Championship Game, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 21, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.76 TB
14. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots, AFC Championship Game, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 21, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.53 TB
15. Taylor Swift Reputation Tour, Broncos Stadium at Mile High, May 25, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.1 TB
16. Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Sept. 7, 2017: Wi-Fi: 8.08 TB
17. SEC Championship Game, Alabama vs. Georgia, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 1, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.06 TB*
18. Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys, Divisional Playoffs, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, Jan. 15, 2017: Wi-Fi: 7.25 TB
19. Stanford vs. Notre Dame, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind., Sept. 29, 2018: 7.19 TB
20. (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
21. WrestleMania 32, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, April 3, 2016: Wi-Fi: 6.77 TB
22. Wisconsin vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Oct. 7, 2017: Wi-Fi: 6.3 TB
23. Super Bowl 49, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., Feb. 1, 2015: Wi-Fi: 6.23 TB

Stadium Tech Report: AT&T Stadium’s massive antenna deployment delivers solid Wi-Fi, DAS performance

The old saw that says “everything’s bigger in Texas” is not just a stereotype when it comes to wireless networking and AT&T Stadium. Though our visit was brief and we didn’t have the opportunity to do a deep-dive technology tour, the MSR team on hand at the recent College Football Playoff championship game came away convinced that if it’s not the fastest fan-facing stadium network, the Wi-FI and DAS deployments at AT&T Stadium sure are the biggest, at least the largest we’ve ever heard of.

Inside AT&T Stadium at the College Football Playoff championship game. (Click on any photo for larger image) Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

Inside AT&T Stadium at the College Football Playoff championship game. (Click on any photo for larger image) Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

And in many ways we found, bigger is better, at least when it comes to staying connected inside one of the world’s truly humongous indoor spaces.

If you’ve not seen the stats, allow us to remind you that during the Jan. 12 championship game between the University of Oregon and THE Ohio State University the AT&T Stadium network carried more than 6 terabytes of wireless data, with almost 5 TB of that over the in-house Wi-Fi network. Another 1.4 TB was recorded being used by AT&T customers on the AT&T-hosted neutral DAS, which almost certainly carried another terabyte or two from other carriers on the system, who did not report any statistics. Any way you add it up, it’s the biggest single-day wireless data figure we’ve ever heard for a sports arena, professional or college, in any sport at any time.

Flooding the zone with more antennas and APs

How do you get such a big data number? One way is to make sure that everyone can connect, and one way to get to that point is to flood the zone with antennas and access points. Already the leader in the number of Wi-Fi access points and DAS antennas, AT&T Stadium got another 280 Wi-Fi antennas installed between Thanksgiving and the college championship game, according to John Winborn, CIO for the Dallas Cowboys. Some of those antennas, the staff said, were housed in new under-the-seat enclosures that AT&T’s Foundry designed somewhat specifically for use in the lower bowl of AT&T Stadium, which like other stadiums had previously had issues getting connectivity to seats close to field level.

According to Winborn, the AT&T Stadium now has more than 1,600 Wi-Fi APs in use for football games, and 1,400 antennas in its DAS network. By comparison, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., perhaps the newest and one of the most technologically savvy venues out there, has 1,200 Wi-Fi APs and 700 DAS antennas in its deployments. Winborn also said that the antenna/AP number at AT&T can also scale up as necessary, especially for events that use up more of the building’s space, like the Final Four basketball tournament held there last spring.

“We scaled up to 1,825 [Wi-Fi] antennas for the Final Four last year,” said Winborn in a recent email, where he guessed that the venue might deploy up to 2,000 Wi-Fi APs when the Academy of Country Music Awards holds its yearly event at AT&T Stadium on April 19.

Hiding Wi-Fi APs an aesthetic priority

John Winborn, CIO for the Dallas Cowboys, poses next to a picture of two other innovators, Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt

John Winborn, CIO for the Dallas Cowboys, poses next to a picture of two other innovators, Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt

For all the extra numbers, one thing we noticed in walking around the building on Jan. 12 was that seeing an exposed Wi-Fi AP is about as common as seeing an albino deer. When we asked Winborn what the toughest thing was about network deployment in the venue, he responded quickly: “Finding ways to hide the APs so Jerry [Jones] doesn’t see them.”

With the price-is-no-object Jones on one side, and AT&T’s corporate image on the other, it’s clear there aren’t too many budgetary concerns when it comes down to spending more to make the network work, or look, better. Put it this way: You are never likely to have a “no signal” problem in a building that has on its outside an AT&T logo the size of the moon, and where AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson can be found wandering around the suite level during big events.

Though the immense space could probably be covered by fewer antennas, it’s worthwhile to remember that when the building was built and opened in 2009, it wasn’t designed with high-speed networking in mind. That means that almost all of the Wi-Fi and DAS deployments are a retrofit, including the ingenious circle of Wi-Fi antennas halfway up the seating bowl, which are covered by a tented ring of fiberglass designed and built specifically for the stadium.

According to Winborn the Wi-Fi network is supported by its own 2 GB backbone, with separate backbones in place for media networks and stadium application use. Winborn also noted that the stadium network runs 3,500 TVs via the Cisco StadiumVision system. Other records from this season include a peak concurrent Wi-Fi user mark of 27,523 (set at the Lions playoff game) and 38,534 unique Wi-Fi connections, that mark set at the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

Performance solid, even at rooftop level

The view from the nosebleed section

The view from the nosebleed section

So how fast are the Wi-Fi and DAS networks? In our limited testing time at the CFP game, we found solid connections almost everywhere we tried, including outside the stadium while we (freezingly) waited for the doors to open. Just outside the main ticket gate, we got a Wi-Fi signal of 23.93 Mbps on the download and 39.67 Mbps on the upload. At the same location a Verizon 4G LTE device got a 5.93 Mbps download speed, and a 2.59 Mbps upload speed, but it’s unclear if that was on the stadium DAS or just on the local macro network.

When the doors finally opened at 5:30 p.m. (no idea why Jerry kept us all out in the cold all afternoon) we went inside and got solid connections inside the foyer of the pro shop — 18.23/21.74 on Wi-Fi, 21.05/14.84 on an AT&T 4G LTE device, and 12.65/4.61 on a Verizon 4G LTE phone. (It’s worthwhile to note that all our Wi-Fi speeds were recorded on the Verizon device, a new iPhone 6 Plus.)

Down in our field-level suite, where we were the guests of AT&T, we got marks of 19.43/25.31 on the Wi-Fi, 7.35/11.04 on AT&T 4G and 5.71/4.05 on Verizon 4G. An interesting note here: When Oregon scored a touchdown on its opening drive, we took another Wi-Fi speedtest right after the play and got readings of 4.38/7.79, suggesting that there were many Ducks fans communicating the good news.

Later during the game we wandered up to the “Star Level” suites (floor 6 on the stadium elevator) and got a Wi-Fi mark of 11.57/30.51, and 19.31/13.46 on AT&T 4G. The only place we didn’t get a good Wi-Fi signal was at the nosebleed-level plaza above the south end zone, where we weren’t surprised by the 1.41/1.98 Wi-Fi mark since we didn’t see any place you could put an AP. We did, however, get an AT&T 4G signal of more than 7 Mbps on the download in the same location, meaning that even fans way up at the top of the stadium were covered by wireless, no small feat in such a huge space.

Bottom line: Network in place for whatever’s next

If there is a place where AT&T falls behind other stadiums, it’s in the synchronization of network and app; since it wasn’t built with food delivery in mind, it’s doubtful that AT&T will match Levi’s Stadium’s innovative delivery-to-any-seat feature anytime soon. And even though AT&T Stadium is dominated by the massive over-the-field TV set, fans at the CFP championship game were left literally in the dark during questionable-call replays, since they weren’t shown on the big screen and aren’t supported in the AT&T Stadium app.

What could be interesting is if the technology demonstrated by AT&T at the big college game – LTE Broadcast, which sends a streaming channel of live video over a dedicated cellular link – becomes part of the AT&T Stadium repertoire. From experience, such a channel could be extremely helpful during pregame events, since many fans at the college championship were wandering around outside the stadium unsure of where to go or where to find will-call windows. A “pre-game info” broadcast over LTE Broadcast could eliminate a lot of pain points of getting to the event, while also introducing fans to the network and app for later interaction.

At the very least, AT&T Stadium’s network alone puts it in at least the top three of most-connected football stadiums, alongside Levi’s Stadium and Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Here’s looking forward to continued competition among the venues, with advancements that will only further improve the already excellent wireless fan experience.

More photos from our visit below. Enjoy!

Fans freezing outside waiting for the CFP game to start

Fans freezing outside waiting for the CFP game to start

Creative OSU fan

Creative OSU fan

Plug for the app

Plug for the app

AT&T Stadium NOC aka "the Fishbowl"

AT&T Stadium NOC aka “the Fishbowl”

Sony Club. Now we know where Levi's Stadium got its "club" ideas

Sony Club. Now we know where Levi’s Stadium got its “club” ideas

Panoramic view (click on this one!)

Panoramic view (click on this one!)

A glass (cup?) of bubbly to celebrate the 6 TB event

A glass (cup?) of bubbly to celebrate the 6 TB event

College championship game at AT&T Stadium breaks 6 Terabyte wireless data mark, with almost 5 TB of Wi-Fi traffic

AT&T Stadium before the college football playoff championship game. (Click on any photo for larger image) Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

AT&T Stadium before the college football playoff championship game. (Click on any photo for larger image) Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

Not only did Monday night’s College Football Playoff championship game crown a new new national title team — it also broke the unofficial record for most wireless traffic at a single sporting event, with more than 6 terabytes of data used by the 85,689 fans in attendance at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

John Winborn, chief information officer for the Dallas Cowboys, said the AT&T-hosted Wi-Fi network at AT&T Stadium carried 4.93 TB of traffic during Monday’s game between Ohio State and Oregon, a far higher total than we’ve ever heard of before for a single-game, single-venue event. AT&T cellular customers, Winborn said, used an additional 1.41 TB of wireless data on the stadium DAS network, resulting in a measured total of 6.34 TB of traffic. The real total is likely another terabyte or two higher, since these figures don’t include any traffic from other carriers (Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile) carried on the AT&T-neutral host DAS. (Other carrier reps, please feel free to send us your data totals as well!)

The national championship numbers blew away the data traffic totals from last year’s Super Bowl, and also eclipsed the previous high-water Wi-Fi mark we knew of, the 3.3 TB number set by the San Francisco 49ers during the opening game of the season at their new Levi’s Stadium facility. Since we’ve not heard of any other event even coming close, we’ll crown AT&T Stadium and the college playoff championship as the new top dog in the wireless-data consumption arena, at least for now.

University of Phoenix Stadium, already with Super Bowl prep under way

University of Phoenix Stadium, already with Super Bowl prep under way

Coincidentally, MSR on Tuesday was touring the University of Phoenix Stadium and the surrounding Westgate entertainment district, which is in the process of getting the final touches on a new complex-wide DAS installed by Crown Castle. The new DAS includes antennas on buildings and railings around the restaurants and shops of the mall-like Westgate complex, as well as inside and outside the UoP Stadium. (We’ll have a full report soon on the new DAS installs, including antennas behind fake air-vent fans on the outside of the football stadium to help handle pre-game crowds).

The University of Phoenix Stadium also had its entire Wi-Fi network ripped and replaced this season, in order to better serve the wireless appetites coming for the big game on Feb. 1. At AT&T Stadium on Monday we learned that the network there had almost 300 new Wi-Fi access points and a number of new DAS antennas installed since Thanksgiving, in anticipation of a big traffic event Monday night. Our exclusive on-the-scene tests of the Wi-Fi and DAS network found no glitches or holes in coverage, which is probably part of the reason why so many people used so much data.

UPDATE: Here is the official press release from AT&T, which basically says the same thing our post does.

Stadium Tech Report: AT&T Stadium network a winner at CFP Championship game

Inside AT&T Stadium at the College Football Championship game. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

Inside AT&T Stadium at the College Football Championship game. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

It’s late here in North Texas and you know by now that Ohio State beat Oregon to win the first non-mythical college football championship. Behind the scenes at AT&T Stadium Monday night, the wireless network in AT&T Stadium was also a winner, standing up to the challenge of the 85,000-plus crowd on both the DAS and Wi-Fi front.

We’ll have a more thorough stadium report when we get time to digest all the info we gathered at the game (and get the network stats back from the AT&T Stadium tech crew) but one thing we learned before the game was that since November, the Wi-Fi network at AT&T Stadium grew by more than 280 access points, on top of a total somewhere in the 1,200 range. According to AT&T network folks the stadium here in Arlington, Texas, has been seeing game-day totals of 3.3 Terabytes of data carried on the Wi-Fi network — leading some here to believe that Monday’s championship game could well surpass 4 TB of data used at a single game, an unofficial record as far we know for a single-day, single facility network.

As guests of AT&T we also got a quick demonstration of LTE broadcast technology, which basically slices the available cellular spectrum into a channel that can provide live streams of video. We’ll have more on this new technology in another separate report, but it is something to watch for facilities that want video options but don’t want to go whole hog on Wi-Fi.

AT&T LTE Broadcast demo, showing a live streaming broadcast of the game

AT&T LTE Broadcast demo, showing a live streaming broadcast of the game

Even though we were housed in a field-level suite your intrepid MSR crew wandered all over the massive facility, and basically found great connectivity wherever we were. Two places stick out in my mind: At the very top of the nosebleed section in the south end zone the Wi-Fi dipped to just 1 Mbps, probably because the roof is so high there is no place for an access point. However, at that same spot the AT&T 4G LTE signal was around 7 Mbps, providing great connectivity in a tough to configure spot.

The other notable spot was in a “star level” suite (about the 6th level of the building), where we got a Wi-Fi signal of 28 Mbps download and 59 (no typo!) Mbps on the upload. Yes, suite people have it better but all around wherever we went we got consistent Wi-Fi signals in the high teens or low 20s, and LTE cellular signals (including Verizon 4G LTE) just under 10 Mbps. Like the Ohio State offense, the network at AT&T Stadium works really well and may have set a new record Monday night. More soon, and more images soon as well. For now, Elvis has left the building.

Outside in the frozen tundra of North Texas, aka Arlington

Outside in the frozen tundra of North Texas, aka Arlington

This place was humming all night long

This place was humming all night long

AT&T 4G LTE speedtest, from the top of the stadium

AT&T 4G LTE speedtest, from the top of the stadium

The view from the nosebleed section

The view from the nosebleed section

Some "suite" Wi-Fi speeds

Some “suite” Wi-Fi speeds