NFL Stadium Tech Reviews — NFC South

Editor’s note: The following team-by-team capsule reports of NFL stadium technology deployments are an excerpt from our most recent Stadium Tech Report, THE PRO FOOTBALL ISSUE. To get all the capsules in one place as well as our featured reports, interviews and analysis, download your free copy of the full report today.


Reporting by Paul Kapustka

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 4.57.13 PMNew Orleans Saints
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Seating Capacity: 76,468
Wi-Fi – Yes
DAS – Yes

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the Superdome remains a signal of the region’s recovery. Inside the dome, the Wi-Fi installed before the most recent Super Bowl there is still going strong.

Atlanta Falcons
Georgia Dome
Seating Capacity: 71,280
Wi-Fi – Yes
DAS – Yes

Even as they wait for the technological wonder that is the coming next year at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (with fiber-based Wi-Fi from IBM and Corning), Falcons fans still have way better than average connectivity inside the Georgia Dome, where a Cisco-powered network provides access to mobile treats like instant replays from multiple camera angles.

Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium
Seating Capacity: 74,455
Wi-Fi – Yes
DAS – Yes

Bank of America Stadium completely replaced its DAS solution during the offseason with a new Commscope ION-U system. The new DAS is owned by the Panthers directly and includes Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint as participants. Look for the stadium to completely replace its Wi-Fi system this coming offseason, with a new 1,200-AP network for the 2016 season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium
Seating Capacity: 65,890
Wi-Fi – Yes
DAS – Yes

Raymond James Stadium got free fan-facing Wi-Fi for the 2012 season, but since then we haven’t heard anything about upgrades to the system. With the college playoff championship game coming in 2017, however, you can probably expect to see connectivity improvements coming soon.

AT&T: Fans Set Cellular Data Record at Super Bowl, Again

According to the folks at AT&T, fans in the New Orleans Superdome Sunday night set another record for cellular traffic, with 388 GB traversing AT&T’s in-dome network during the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. What’s somewhat staggering about the number is that it doesn’t include any of the traffic that was sent out over the in-dome Wi-Fi network recently installed by Verizon and Cisco; AT&T’s numbers are just for the cellular infrastructure and the DAS deployment Ma Bell put in the Superdome last year.

Guessing that Verizon’s numbers will also be bigger — according to a recent story in Ars Technica Verizon saw 225 GB of bandwidth used during last year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis, where AT&T saw 215 GB of usage on its networks. If Verizon’s numbers are similar to AT&T’s (from reports we saw on Twitter the Wi-Fi network performed well, even during the third-quarter blackout) then there was probably something like 800 GB of data flying out of the Superdome Sunday, maybe even close to 1,000 GB if you throw in Sprint and T-Mobile numbers, which we probably won’t get.

So it’s pretty damn clear: Fans like using mobile devices at big sports events. And we haven’t quite reached the peak yet, since every successive Super Bowl sets a new record. We are guessing this trend will continue for some time, since there isn’t even a good in-stadium app yet to really make people do things other than send pictures and texts to people who aren’t at the stadium. So — this journey has really just begun.

Some other interesting nuggets from the folks at AT&T, who said that their network didn’t go down during the blackout:

— AT&T’s peak hour of data usage at the Big Game occurred during halftime and during the stadium’s temporary power outage, from 8 to 9 pm EST. AT&T customers consumed 78 GB during this hour on the in-stadium mobility network, which is nearly double the amount of data that AT&T customers used during the peak hour at last year’s Big Game in Indianapolis.

— During the hour of halftime and the stadium’s temporary power outage, from 8 to 9 pm EST, customers made more calls, sent nearly twice as many SMS texts and consumed approximately 10 GB more data than they did during any other hour of the event.

— AT&T customers also made more than 73,000 mobile calls during the game.