Verizon puts cellular antennas under seats to improve Levi’s Stadium DAS ahead of Super Bowl 50

New Verizon Wireless under-seat DAS antenna placement at Levi's Stadium. Photo: Verizon Wireless

New Verizon Wireless under-seat DAS antenna placement at Levi’s Stadium. Photo: Verizon Wireless

In a first for distributed antenna system (DAS) deployments, Verizon Wireless is using under-seat antenna deployments in Levi’s Stadium to increase capacity for Super Bowl 50, according to a Verizon executive interviewed Wednesday.

Brian Mecum, vice president, network for Verizon Wireless, said in a phone interview that large amounts of wireless traffic at last year’s Super Bowl spurred Verizon to help fund a full replacement of the Levi’s Stadium DAS, which was only a year old, to make sure that this year’s big game would be able to handle the expected usage growth. Mecum said the carrier expects to see as much as 6 terabytes or more of cellular traffic during the Feb. 7 game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers at the San Francisco 49ers’ home field in Santa Clara, Calif.

To increase capacity in the lower seating bowls, Mecum said that Verizon basically invented its own under-seat DAS antenna system and paid for its deployment, adding about “30 percent more capacity” through the under-seat antennas alone. For its Wi-Fi network, Levi’s Stadium already uses under-seat access points, as do a growing number of large outdoor arenas. While Verizon’s deployment of under-seat antennas for cellular DAS is a first we’ve heard of, it achieves the same goals as under-seat Wi-Fi, basically just getting signals closer to users in a place where there isn’t any overhead or side structures to attach antennas to.

Close-up of under-seat DAS antenna system. Photo: Verizon Wireless

Close-up of under-seat DAS antenna system. Photo: Verizon Wireless

“To get a quality signal you have to get [the antenna] closer to the device,” and the only way to do that in the 100-level sections of Levi’s Stadium is to go under the seats, Mecum said. Though stadium DAS integrator DAS Group Professionals also upgraded most of its other cellular antennas this summer throughout Levi’s Stadium, the under-seat antennas are exclusive to Verizon Wireless, Mecum said. According to DGP vice president and COO Vince Gamick, just more than 50 under-seat DAS antennas were deployed, along with more than 700 other DAS antennas in the stadium and parking lots.

Low power to ease safety concerns

Though some fans might wonder about the white boxes under their seats, Mecum said the Verizon antenna deployment operates at “well below FCC standards” for power output, and should not be a cause for health concerns.

“They use about the same amount of power as a cell phone,” Mecum said. The antennas are also mounted to shoot their signals down to bounce off the concrete flooring, further reducing the power signal toward fans’ bodies.

According to Mecum, the antennas have already been doing a lot of work during the regular season — though he didn’t provide an exact number, Mecum did say that the 49ers’ home game against the rival Seattle Seahawks (which produced a lot of Wi-Fi traffic) also had a total of DAS traffic on the Verizon network that surpassed the 4.1 TB that Verizon recorded at last year’s Super Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

“We’re pretty excited” to see what the eventual Super Bowl DAS traffic number is, Mecum said. “We expect to see at least 1.5 times as much as we saw at the Super Bowl last year.”

San Franicso advertising kiosk where Verizon Wireless installed extra antennas for Super Bowl crowds. Photo: Screen shot from Verizon Wireless video

San Franicso advertising kiosk where Verizon Wireless installed extra antennas for Super Bowl crowds. Photo: Screen shot from Verizon Wireless video

Antennas on kiosks, and engineering for the Lombardi Trophy traffic

The stadium improvements are just part of a Bay area-wide infrastructure improvement blitz from Verizon, a fairly typical thing ahead of big events for almost all the cellular carriers. But some of the pre-game prep for Verizon has a unique flavor for San Francisco, especially the carrier’s decision to put small cells inside San Francisco’s stylish advertising kiosks that dot the downtown area.

With Super Bowl fan activities taking place from San Francisco’s Ferry Building down to the Moscone Convention Center, Mecum said the kiosks became a perfect place to add cellular capacity.

“They were basically empty [at the top] so we ran fiber to them and put in antennas,” Mecum said.

Verizon’s Super Bowl engineering effort also included extra antenna deployments around the areas where the Super Bowl hardware, the Lombardi Trophy and the Super Bowl winning teams’ rings, will be on display.

“The lines to see the trophy and the rings are so long we actually needed to engineer for them and adjust the antenna density [in the display area],” Mecum said. “So you should be able to connect anywhere and everywhere you go for the Super Bowl.”

Stadium Tech Professionals: Time to take our 2015 stadium tech survey!

SOS14_thumbIf you are a stadium technology professional working for a school, team or stadium ownership group, it’s that time of year again — we need your participation to make our 2015 State of the Stadium Technology Survey our best yet! Now in its third year of existence, the “State of the Stadium” survey is the only independent, large-public-venue research that charts deployments of stadium technology like Wi-Fi, DAS, Digital Signage and Beaconing, and the use of digital sports marketing tools like CRM and social media. If you are part of a stadium operations group and know the answers, take the 2015 survey right now!

Before I get to a deeper explanation of the survey, a quick story: During last year’s survey season, I called a team IT exec that I knew well and asked why nobody from his organization had taken the survey. “Well, we don’t have Wi-Fi installed yet,” the exec said. “We’ll take the survey next year after it’s deployed.” I didn’t have the heart to say it at the time but — his take was completely the WRONG ANSWER. Why? Because this is an ANONYMOUS, AGGREGATED INFORMATION ONLY survey, which means that answers aren’t tied to any school, team or individual. Just look at last year’s survey to see how the answers are reported. That also means that all answers are completely confidential, and will not be sold, marketed or otherwise communicated in any way, shape or form outside of the ANONYMOUS TOTALS used in the survey report.

So since we’re trying to find out aggregate numbers — not individual details — it’s just as important for all of us to know who doesn’t have Wi-Fi as well as who does. So even if your school or team or stadium doesn’t have Wi-Fi — and may never have Wi-Fi — you should still TAKE THE SURVEY and add your organization’s information to the total. The more answers we get, the better the data are for everyone.

Survey time is time well spent

And that “everyone” thing leads me to my next point: If you’re a regular reader here you can and should consider the few minutes it takes to complete the survey as a small way of “paying back” to the rest of the members of this fine industry, many of whom make time for the interviews, visits and emails that form the core of all the excellent free content available here on the MSR site and through our long-form reports. We know you are busy, and that spending time answering a list of technology questions may not seem like the highest priority on your to-do list. But a little bit of your time can really help us all.

That’s because we also know, from our website statistics and from our report download numbers and just from conversations with many of you, that our audience of stadium technology professionals appreciates the honest, objective stories and analysis we provide. (We humbly thank you for making us a regular reading choice.) And now, by taking the survey, you can help make the site and our work even better, just by adding your team, school or stadium’s technology deployment information into the 2015 State of the Stadium Technology Survey. The more results we get, the better and more informative the survey becomes — and that’s something that’s truly a win-win situation for all involved.

Once again the State of the Stadium Technology Survey will be exclusively delivered first to the attendees of the SEAT Conference, being held this year in our home town of San Francisco, July 19-22. Production of this year’s survey is made possible by the sponsorship of Mobilitie, and through our partnership with the SEAT Consortium, owners and operators of the excellent SEAT event. All those who participate in the survey will receive a full digital copy of the final report, whether you attend the SEAT Conference or not.

Final reminder: This survey is meant to be taken ONLY by stadium technology professionals, executives, and team or school representatives who can accurately describe the deployments in place at their organization. It is NOT a survey to be taken by everyone, only by those who have a deployment to describe. If you have any questions about whether you should take the survey or not, send an email to me at kaps at Thanks in advance for your time and participation!

Giants Win, Twitter Explodes

It’s become pretty normal for Twitter to blow up after any big event now (just wait until the U.S. Presidential elections) but when the company’s hometown baseball team wins the World Series, the explosion of tweets is the Internet equivalent of the fireworks going off around us here in the Bay Area tonight. According to Topsy, the tweets hit 38,000 per minute right after Sergio Romo got Miguel Cabrera to watch strike three on that sick fastball:

38,000+ tweets per minute for the @ after winning the #worldseries! Go Giants! #sfgiants



In honor of the Giants and for Twitter, some choice post-game missives from the folks we follow. Any good ones you’ve seen, put them in the comments and I’ll add them later to the main post.

Second time today Romo’s clinched a game for the Giants.


Jim Rome

When a #WorldSeries is won on the road…almost as awkward as that Erin Andrews interview of Marco Scutaro.


Matt Ginella

my neighborhood is one #SFGiants party spot. Honking has begun in earnest.


Om Malik

RT @: Dear God. Giants championship parade scheduled for Halloween. That is going to be a FREAKSHOW.


Jason Kint

p.s. Thank you Melky for the All-Star victory 😉


Omid Ashtari

Giants win with pitching, defense..managers moves..timely hitting..sounds like simple formula..if it were everyone would do it..congrats SF


karl ravech

Across the street from me, how to watch the game in The City. (Also, faster than Twitter for news.)


Rafe Needleman