Is WrestleMania the perfect storm for mobile-content consumption? Listen to Podcast No. 4 to find out!

Episode 4 of the STADIUM TECH REPORT PODCAST is live, in which hosts Phil Harvey and Paul Kapustka go to the mats to figure out if WrestleMania and the associated WWE operations are the perfect storm for mobile-content creation. We also discuss why WrestleMania and events like it are capable of creating massive demands for in-stadium bandwidth, like the latest big wireless day at WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium. Listen now and let us know what you think!


Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes!

Entry issues snarl start of WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium; crowd uses 6.77 TB of Wi-Fi

While Sunday’s WrestleMania 32 eventually ended up with a record attendance for the WWE’s signature event with 101,763 fans in attendance, some snafus with the entry process had fans reporting as long as three-hour waits to get in, with some pegging a Wi-Fi outage that disabled ticket scanners as one of the roots of the problem.

We don’t as of yet have any on-the-record comments from AT&T Stadium so we can’t say exactly what the problem was. UPDATE, 4/4/16, 2:50 p.m.: According to John Winborn, chief information officer for the Dallas Cowboys Football Club (and the person who runs the network inside AT&T Stadium), despite the rumors that emerged there was no Wi-Fi outage at the stadium — in fact Winborn said the crowd used 6.77 TB of Wi-Fi data Sunday, a single-day stadium Wi-Fi total second only to the 10.1 TB used at Levi’s Stadium for Super Bowl 50. (More details on the Wi-Fi consumption coming soon.)

Wi-Fi rumors aside, on Sunday night Twitter and Instagram were full of photos from irate fans who were stuck outside the venue, with some reportedly unable to get inside or to their seats before the actual matches started. According to a blog post at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the WWE and the Stadium issued a joint press release halfway through the event that read:

“To ensure the safety of WWE fans, increased security measures were put in place tonight. We apologize that it may have taken some fans longer than usual to get into AT&T Stadium.”

Several other news outlets reported the problem, with all seeming to peg the issue on a Wi-Fi problem with the ticket scanners. Winborn, however, said there were no Wi-Fi outages in the stadium or with the ticket scanners.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram report, the vitriol on Twitter and other social media outlets may not have been entirely correct; according to the report:

Do not believe the viral reports and unsightly online pictures that fans could not get to their seats by the time the early matches began — they could but they preferred to walk around, buy food, drink and merchandise. But the images and the complaints that flooded the Internet about #WrestleMania32 were so plentiful, and negative, joint press release was issued halfway through the event.

With 101,763 finally in their seats the event was the fifth-largest crowd inside AT&T Stadium, and as such most likely produced a large Wi-Fi and DAS traffic number once things finally got underway. We will update this post and have another when we get the wireless traffic stats from the stadium.

WrestleMania 31 resets Levi’s Stadium Wi-Fi record with 4.5 terabytes of data used

WrestleMania 31 at Levi's Stadium, March 29, 2015. Credit all images: (click on any photo for a larger image)

WrestleMania 31 at Levi’s Stadium, March 29, 2015. Credit all images: (click on any photo for a larger image)

The biggest crowd yet at Levi’s Stadium also reset the venue’s Wi-Fi usage records, as the 76,976 fans at the March 29 WrestleMania 31 event used 4.5 terabytes of data on the in-stadium network, according to representatives from the San Francisco 49ers, the stadium’s owner and operator.

The WrestleMania mark eclipsed the previous Wi-Fi high-water figure of 3.3 TB, recorded during the Niners’ home opener at Levi’s Stadium on Sept. 14, 2014. However, the WWE event’s record should come with a bit of an interesting asterisk, since the Niners said they built a temporary ground-level extension to the Wi-Fi network that was used by approximately 3,700 fans who were sitting in seats on the field, surrounding the WrestleMania stage. The team also put in extra Wi-Fi coverage for the three temporary seating sections that were erected in the Levi’s Stadium southeast plaza, structures that will likely be part of the configuration for Super Bowl 50 next February.

WrestleMania competition

WrestleMania competition

“We considered the event a success from a Wi-Fi standpoint considering the temporary APs served almost 4,000 people and moved a large amount of data,” said Roger Hacker, senior manager, corporate communications for the San Francisco 49ers. “We moved a significant amount of traffic all the while seeing minimal negative comments on social media.”

In a related note, it seems like beefed-up train and bus service from light rail entity VTA kept lines and waits to a minimum, even with a record number of fans also using public transportation to the event. At the very least, the Levi’s Stadium team seems to be back on a positive path after some painful lessons learned during the Feb. 21 Coors Light Stadium Series hockey game. Remember also that WWE did not want in-seat food or merchandise delivery available during the event, which proabably helped make network operations easier.

Under-seat APs and handrail antennas

According to Hacker the field-level network used 76 extra access points, with 69 on the field level itself and seven more on the field-level walls. Hacker said a combination of picocell and handrail enclosures were used for the temporary network, which was necessary since the regular stadium-bowl configuration was never designed to handle traffic for events with fans on the field level.

wm4Hacker also said the temporary network had its own switching infrastructure, with eight portable switching pods connected by both fiber and outdoor Ethernet cabling. The results from the WrestleMania event, Hacker said, will help the Niners and Levi’s Stadium staff prepare for future events with on-field seating, like the concerts scheduled for later this spring and summer.

The Niners said their goal with the WrestleMania temporary network “experiment” (which they believe to be the first ever done for a large outdoor event) was to see whether the Levi’s Stadium under-seat design could be extended to the field for temporary events “in a cost-effective, safe and repeatable manner. From what we experienced with WrestleMania 31, every indication is that we will be able to do that.”

Some more network stats from the WrestleMania 31 event:

— The peak concurrent user mark was 14,800 on the Wi-Fi network at around 8:10 p.m.

— The Wi-Fi network carried 1.61 Gbps of average continuous bandwidth from 2:20 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., also a new stadium record

— The peak bandwidth usage was 2.474 Gbps at 7:10 p.m.

— Usage on the Levi’s Stadium DAS network was not reported.

Overhead shot of Levi's Stadium during WrestleMania 31, showing on-field seating

Overhead shot of Levi’s Stadium during WrestleMania 31, showing on-field seating