Wednesday Wi-Fi Whispers: Ruckus Goes Narrow with New Directional Antenna

Ruckus Wireless on Tuesday announced a new suite of products and an enhanced overall focus aimed at addressing high-density networking needs like stadiums, including an innovative antenna technology that can focus beams into smaller angles — all the better for servicing tightly packed crowds.

If Wi-Fi networking infrastructure deployments were originally about coverage, they’ve now switched to more concerns about capacity, said Steve Hratko, director of carrier marketing at Ruckus, who met with us at the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s Wi-Fi Global Congress conference in San Francisco Tuesday. And when it comes to deploying antennas and other infrastructure to serve high-density crowds, Hratko said, “all the rules of thumb have changed.”

One of those rules has to do with antennas. Historically antennas were designed to cast as wide a signal as possible, to cover the most airspace with the fewest number of devices. Now, with demand increasing at explosive levels, to serve high-density areas like stadiums takes some different deployment thinking, like antennas that use narrower beams. Ruckus’ new Wi-Fi access points, Hratko said, can shrink their signals into 30-degree slices, making it easier to aim them at a specific sector of seats, or other geographically specific areas, like airport waiting rooms.

“Sometimes, the beams can’t be narrow enough,” said Hratko. “It all ends up being more clever about where you put antennas.”

Ruckus, which is in the midst of preparing for an initial public offering, is also ready to help clients with its deployment smarts, which it is learning as it puts its gear into more high-density places like Time-Warner Cable Arena, where Ruckus gear helped keep the Democratic National Convention wirelessly connected earlier this summer. We’re sure we’ll hear more high-density talk from Ruckus sometime soon.

BT: Olympics Used 6 Terabytes of Wi-Fi Traffic

We’re going to try to track down the presentation — it was loaded with cool networking statistics — but one of the ones we did write down during a BT talk about Olympics network usage at the Wi-Fi conference was the staggering stat that there was 6 Terabytes of Wi-Fi traffic consumed on BT’s London networks during the games this summer — with some 697,383 separate Wi-Fi sessions initiated on the 1,500 access points BT had installed for Olympics use.

Though BT exec Chris Bruce said the network performed without many hitches — we heard some different stories — by all accounts the Wi-Fi networks on the Games sites apparently held up even in the face of record demand. It’s old news to us here at MSR but Bruce said if you didn’t believe it before, believe it now — crowds at big sporting events want to take pictures and video and share them instantly.

“Crowd behavior now is such that everyone wants to capture the moment and share the moment,” Bruce said, meaning that event hosts better have super-sturdy Wi-Fi and cellular or be ready for the inevitable immediate social-media backlash. One funny story he noted was that when planning started for the London Games 10 years out, the idea of having a Wi-Fi network wasn’t even considered. His advice for future big-event network planners?

“Take your demand model and keep revising it,” he said. “You just can’t predict it ahead of time.”

NBC’s Digital Olympics: Mobile Growth Huge, TV Ratings Not Affected

NBC released its full numbers from the Olympics Monday, and to no surprise the peacock network set viewership records in just about every category. I’m sure most of you have your own opinion already (#NBCfail) about how NBC actually performed, but on one level it’s simply true that for sheer totality of coverage, this Olympics offered the most live and archived video ever, and will likely set a standard for other big events to follow.

What we hope, of course, is that they learn the lesson NBC learned the hard way — that people want the ability to see events LIVE, whenever they are happening — AND, most importantly, that even if you show something live you will still have humongous audiences for your weirdo 1950s prime-time shows with announcers who seem to only emerge every four years, like cicadas. I mean, really — Al Trautwig? But I digress. On to the numbers:

First, the broadcast numbers — NBC “killed it,” as the kids would say, but just barely — up to 219 million viewers, just surpassing Beijing totals of 215 million. What matters to us here at MSR, of course, are the digital numbers, and there was a mild surprise in that unique visitors to the website increased only slightly from the Beijing Games, with 57.1 million uniques this year compared to 51.8 in 2008 (see chart we screen-grabbed below). Mobile unique users, however, rocketed off the charts — 10.1 million uniques for the NBCOlympics mobile web site (compared to 6.5 million in 2008) and another 11.2 million downloads of the Olympics Live Extra app.

What do those numbers tell us? That the audience for mobile device viewing is still growing rapidly while the online audience is plateuing. All these numbers could also conceivably be much much bigger when you understand that because of the necessity of having a cable contract to view online, NBC limited itself to a potential audience pool of 100 million, which is the number of cable customers NBC said was eligible to watch the games online via its sites.

Some more tidbits: When it came to live streams, 63% of live streams were viewed on the web, 37% in the Live Extra App; and our favorite stat: “Users are averaging 111.4 live streaming minutes per viewer on the web and 94.3 live streaming minutes per viewer on the app.” So, that means that having a mobile app isn’t keeping people from watching for long long periods of time. You’re welcome, Verizon and AT&T.

Another screen grab of stats below. (Click on it, because it’s too big to fit on our page.) Go to the NBC page for more stats orgy.

Worst Moments of the Summer Olympics: Opening Ceremony to Synchronized Diving

The Summer Olympics in London had wondrous times. But there were also moments of catastrophe. Athletes and announcers said stupid things and NBC obsessed over the irrelevant.

Here are the top-10 worst moments of the London Olympics:

The Queen of England wasn't smiling (and with good reason) during the Summer Olympics' opening ceremonies.

10. The over-the-top-after-every-point gyrations by American beach volleyball silver medalists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross. Ladies, please, don't do that in Rio. Please.

9. Usain Bolt said in his post 200-meter gold medal effort: “I would like to say one more thing. I am now a living legend. Bask in my glory!” Great runner, yes. Jesus Christ, he ain't.

8. A few seconds of NBC pandering to Michael Phelps' mother would have been more than sufficient, right? Could she have possibly changed her jewelry more often?

7. The NBC gymnastics broadcast braintrust of Al Trautwig, Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel. Repulsive shills.

6. Opening ceremony. For once, it was easy to understand why the Queen of England wasn't smiling. Two-word review: jumbled mess.

5. Synchronized diving. Hot tub and miniscule hand towels after a few seconds of exhaustion? I kept waiting for John Belushi and Dan Akroyd to come out from waiting room and drop some epic cannonballs off the 10-meter board. I would have gladly handed them a towel.

4. NBC's decision to showcase volleyball. How could coverage of bikinis and sand and spikes and digs turn out so bad? Answer: When NBC over produced every move.

3. Ryan Seacrest/Shaun White. Wrong guys for their respective gigs and it showed.

2. Andrea Kremer. I kept hoping a swimmer would push her in the pool after she asked for the umpteenth time, “What were you thinking?” Probably not one swimmer who didn't want to reply, “To swim f-ing fast.”

1. Serena Williams. Girl, guess what? The fallen American flag during the awards ceremony did not want to hug you. Shame on you.

James Raia is an editor and publisher in Sacramento, California. Visit his site:


FIBA to push for 3 on 3 Basketball as Olympic Sport

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA), which governs international basketball competition, is seeking to establish its three on three (3×3) version of the sport as an Olympic event in the coming years, it has said. It is shooting for the 2020 games at the latest.

While you hear about plenty of sports seeking Olympic recognition, 3×3 looks like it has an inside track. It has been played competitively, and by this we mean on a world stage not the inner city asphalt courts of its birth, since 2007 and made its worldwide debut at the 2010 Youth Olympics.

It is a widely played version of the sports and FIBA has massive federation membership numbers, with over 213 national federations spread over five geographical zones; Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. FIBA said that it sees the sports adoption much in the way that beach volleyball followed indoor volleyball in to the Olympic camp.

Currently FIBA is launching a new three on three tournament that will follow its 3×3 World Tour. The world tour will have teams playing in six cities this year with several of them have already been played: Sao Paulo (July 14-15); Vladivostok, Russia (July 21-22); N.Y. (Aug. 18-19); Istanbul (Sept. 1-2); Madrid (Sept. 8-9) and Miami (Sept. 22-23).

There was a series of 70 qualifiers that were held to hone down the teams that were allowed to play in the event. The event looks to have an informal feel to it as aside from players’ skill events it also invites local street artists and DJs to perform and has an open to the public contest as well.

The Miami games will be the finals and there are a variety of teams broken down by age and sex playing in the tournaments. Nike and Samsung are major sponsors for the events.

Kevin Love’s Insider’s View of the Olympic experience via Twitter, Instagram

If the 156-73 victory by the USA over Nigeria didn’t quite stimulate your appetite to watch more of the Summer Olympics basketball competition, Kevin Love is here to assist.

As he’s done on Twitter, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ forward and USA Olympic team reserve is thriving in London via social media. He’s chronicling the Olympics in his own personal way via Instagram, the image application.

Love has nearly 382,000 followers on Twitter and more than 56,000 followers on Instgram.

Sweet Dreams, Fellas

During the Summer Olympics, Love is posting an insider’s view of the U.S. team. It’s not network style, like replays of dunks or sweet passes. It’s more like Candid Camera. Love takes compromising, often funny pictures of his teammates with Instagram and also posts the shots to Twitter.

How about a picture of teammates sleeping on the airline with eyeshades on? Or how about teammates with their faces smashed into pillows? Or how about teammates looking prim and proper in their official Olympic attire?

Love’s playing role on the Olympic team may still be undefined. But his roles as the team’s unofficial photographer and official team prankster are well established.

The Summer Olympic basketball competition continues through Aug. 12. Stayed tune for more of Love’s zany Olympic view.

Love’s Twitter handle is @KevinLove and his Instagram signature is KevinLove.

James Raia is an editor and publisher in Sacramento, California. Visit his site:

No Surprise: NBC’s Online Olympics a Huge Success

According to multiple reports from an NBC press call today, the network’s massive effort to put the Olympics online is an equally massive success, especially on mobile platforms. Paid Content’s Robert Andrews has a complete wrapup of the numbers, but the ones that stick out for us here at Mobile Sports Report are (and these are all digital numbers, not broadcast):

64 MILLION total video streams served so far

5.3 MILLION hours of live video

45 Percent of all digital video streams are coming from a phone or tablet, and not an online laptop or desktop

What this tells us — and what we hope NBC and other old school broadcasters can digest — is that despite massive online consumption of content, the golden-goose prime time broadcasts aren’t harmed. In fact prime time is even bigger and better than ever for NBC, despite all the criticisms which we believe are warranted.

It seems chic for a lot of media types to surf the second wave of follow-me journalism, namely criticizing the criticizers for being a bunch of Twitterheads who don’t matter to “real people” who have “real jobs” and can only watch TV late at night. To that we say nerts. It’s pretty obvious from the online numbers that there is an entirely new audience out there who wants to consume content on their own schedule, or as close to real time as possible. Those people who smugly say Twitter and phone-watchers “don’t matter” need to get out of their own stereotypes and realize the world of the future is going to be one where more, not fewer, people get their content through mobile devices, with perhaps those mobile devices and their connectivity powering that big screen grandpa used to call “the TV.”

I’ll start the third wave — the critics of the critics are wrong. NBC’s own numbers are showing that online and digital can be huge without detracting from prime-time production numbers. There’s a whole new audience out there who consumes sports on mobile devices, and they are right to stand up for what they want, telling broadcasters like NBC directly through the mediums they live in. They are the growth of sports media. What is your sport doing to find them?