Wireless Whispers: Montreal Canadiens get Avaya Wi-Fi; Chargers, Clemson lead latest AT&T DAS totals

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 11.07.33 AMThe Montreal Canadiens will have Wi-Fi for fans in the 21,000-seat Bell Centre this season, thanks to a deployment from Avaya.

We haven’t yet had a chance to speak with the Canadiens’ IT folks, but according to a press release from Avaya the deployment has nearly 500 Wi-Fi access points, “ensuring that visitors get Wi-Fi no matter where they are in the facility.” Any visitors to games this year, please let us know if that connectivity is so!

Looking over the Avaya press materials, it appears that the Bell Centre (CentreBell?) has been a customer of Avaya technology for some time now, as the company said the stadium also uses Avaya’s Fabric Connect at the network core, as well as “an Avaya telephony platform on Avaya Aura Contact Centre.” (Is it only called “contact centre” in Canada?) We’ll keep an eye on the Bell Centre/CentreBell to see if the Avaya team is able to power any new fan engagement features thanks to the new wireless network.

As far as we know, this is the first public confirmation of an Avaya Wi-Fi network in an NHL arena. And while it’s not yet been publicly announced, we know from sources close to the company that Avaya is also behind a new Wi-Fi network at the Pepsi Center in Denver, home of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets; more on that deployment coming soon! Of course, Avaya built the Wi-Fi network at the new San Jose Earthquakes’ soccer pitch, Avaya Stadium.

Chargers, Clemson top AT&T DAS stats for Oct. 3-4 weekend

Exciting football games seem to go hand in hand with lots of DAS network usage — at least that seems to be the case after viewing another week of statistics from the folks at AT&T’s stadium DAS department. According to AT&T, fans at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium used the most DAS traffic at NFL games the weekend of Oct. 3-4, with 1.130 terabytes of DAS traffic consumed during the Bolts’ 30-27 win over the Cleveland Browns. Remember, these stats are ONLY for AT&T network traffic ONLY at the stadiums where AT&T has a DAS deployment. So there may be other stadiums that have higher DAS stats, but ONLY AT&T sends us DAS data, so… you see the scores we get. New Orleans’ Superdome was second that weekend with 965 GB, followed by Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., where fans at the Niners-Packers game used 835 GB of DAS data (in addition to the 2.12 TB of Wi-Fi data).

On the college side, the orange britches of the Clemson Tigers were successful once again, as Clemson defeated then-No. 6 Notre Dame 24-22 in a nail-biter. Fans at the 81,500-seat Memorial Stadium used a whopping 1.475 TB of wireless data, according to AT&T. In second on the college stats that weekend was Texas A&M’s Kyle Field with another big number, 1.116 TB of data used.

Niners: More than 1,000 fans used in-seat food delivery at 2nd Levi’s Stadium preseason game

Screen grab from Levi's Stadium app showing in-seat food delivery option. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report.

Screen grab from Levi’s Stadium app showing in-seat food delivery option. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, Mobile Sports Report.

One of the more unique features the San Francisco 49ers are introducing at their new home this year is the ability for all fans to have food and drink delivered to them, no matter which one of Levi’s Stadium’s 68,500 seats they are in. And according to the Niners, the feature is quickly catching on, with more than 1,000 in-seat orders delivered at the second preseason game at Levi’s on Aug. 24.

At a Levi’s media technology tour Wednesday, the Niners’ tech staff provided an in-depth and up-close look at some of the new stadium’s network infrastructure, including a quick glimpse of one of the several data-center rooms. Dan Williams, vice president of technology for the Niners, said that at the first preseason game at Levi’s on Aug. 17, more fans used the “express pickup” service to order food that they could then pick up at concession stand windows than the seat-delivery feature. But at the second game against the San Diego Chargers, more fans went for the in-seat option, perhaps a sign that Niners fans are learning and testing the new stadium services as they go.

“It’s going to be an ongoing education process,” said Martin Manville, business operations analyst for the Niners and one of the key tech leaders on the Levi’s app team. Manville said the Niners had learned a lot about food delivery in test situations at Candlestick Park last season — and some of those lessons are now evident in the Levi’s delivery menu, which is stripped down to ensure the food runners can get grub to fans before it gets cold (or warm, in the case of cold beverages). According to Manville the average delivery time at the Aug. 24 game was between 10 and 12 minutes, but the team expects that “normal” delays during the regular season will be closer to 15 to 20 minutes per order.

Still, that’s not a bad option if you don’t want to leave your seat and you don’t mind the extra $5 delivery charge. One early interesting stat from the food-delivery process is that the Niners found more orders coming from the “cheap seats” in the north and south stands at Levi’s than from the 50-yard-line seats where the high rollers sit. According to Manville, since the fans in the club seats have easy access to numerous uncrowded concession stands they may not see the need for the in-seat options.

Wi-Fi APs: 600 in Levi’s bowl seating

Under-seat Wi-Fi AP at Levi's Stadium.

Under-seat Wi-Fi AP at Levi’s Stadium.

Some other news nuggets from the tech tour day: According to Williams, of the 1,200 Wi-Fi access points at Levi’s, 600 of those are distributed in the seating areas (aka “the bowl”), with the other 600 placed in suites, concourses and other stadium areas. Williams said the Aruba Networks Wi-Fi antennas are basically split into three types — regular enterprise-type APs for suite and office areas, regular outdoor APs for concourse areas, and more specialized versions (including the under-seat APs) for bowl placements.

— For the app itself, the Niners said that there have been 80,000 downloads so far, with almost half of the season ticket holders having put their ticketing information into the app. The “NiNerds,” the geek-dressed help squad that provides fans with personal assistance with the app, is now at about 50 or 60 strong at each event (originally the team had said it wanted to hire 150 such Wi-Fi coaches). The Niners said the NiNerds will be doing more pro-active app education going forward, doing things like approaching fans in concession lines to see if they know about the express line or in-seat ordering options.

— Though Comcast’s 10-year deal with the Niners calls for the cable provider to bring in two 10-gigabit backbone pipes, the Niners are often quoted as saying they have 40 GB of backbone bandwidth. We solved this mystery today: According to Comcast, the other two 10-GB pipes are a redundant channel from another (unnamed) provider. So: the stadium does have four 10 GB bandwidth pipes, by far the most capacity in any stadium we’ve heard of.

— More traffic stats: Though we will break these down in a separate post, the Niners said that for the Aug. 24 game fans used 1.96 Terabytes of Wi-Fi traffic, just a bit lower than the 2.13 TB used at the first preseason game on Aug. 17. The team also provided some DAS stats, claiming fans used another 1.02 TB of cellular data at the two preseason games combined.

Tech tour photos follow… including a sighting of some (shhhh!) Cisco equipment in the data center racks… click on photos for larger images.

Niners VP of technology Dan Williams (left) and COO Al Guido kick off the Wednesday tech tour.

Niners VP of technology Dan Williams (left) and COO Al Guido kick off the Wednesday tech tour.

Ted Girdner, Comcast VP of business services for California, talks stadium networking.

Ted Girdner, Comcast VP of business services for California, talks stadium networking.

Dan Williams talks Wi-Fi while the Levi's Stadium new turf grows silently behind him.

Dan Williams talks Wi-Fi while the Levi’s Stadium new turf grows silently behind him.

Mystery Cisco gear inside Levi's Stadium data center. Alert! Intruder!

Mystery Cisco gear inside Levi’s Stadium data center. Alert! Intruder!

Brocade router at Levi's Stadium data center. One of many. As in, many many.

Brocade router at Levi’s Stadium data center. One of many. As in, many many.

Wi-Fi gear in Levi's Stadium data room.

Wi-Fi gear in Levi’s Stadium data room.

Franks and DAS: DGP DAS antennas above food station.

Franks and DAS: DGP DAS antennas above food station.

Screenshot of food feature on Levi's Stadium app. Note the green light buttons to show expected wait times for express option.

Screenshot of food feature on Levi’s Stadium app. Note the green light buttons to show expected wait times for express option.

Obligatory Levi's Stadium selfie. MSR shirts complete the style.

Obligatory Levi’s Stadium selfie. MSR shirts complete the style.