Light Reading
While many NFL and big league stadiums are upgrading to high-powered DAS and WiFi systems, today's university stadiums and campuses are in need of major league solutions.

Must Haves for the Big Game? DAS & WiFi

Doug Lodder
2/2/2014
50%
50%

It's that time of year again. Trash talking abounds, epic appetizers are being planned, and (friendly) bets are placed. Super Bowl XLVIII is here.

Its also the time of year when we hear about what upgrades have been made to the hosting stadium's wireless network to handle the data onslaught. (New York's MetLife Stadium has the honors this year.) (See The No-Streaming Bowl.)

According to a report by CNET, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Wireless , T-Mobile US Inc. , and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) all began preparations more than a year ago for this year's big game, with AT&T and Verizon each deploying more than 500 DAS antennas throughout the stadium, and T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint all planning to roll cell-on wheels (COWs) at the event. A Verizon executive told New Jersey's Star-Ledger that the carrier quadrupled the capacity of the stadium's network ahead of the big game. (See Carrier WiFi's Not Winning in Sports Arenas.)

If the NFL has its way, big game connectivity will be standard in all league stadiums by the end of 2014. The league issued WiFi and cellular connectivity standards in late 2013, dictating minimum network performance levels, citing fan retention and creation of new marketing opportunities as key drivers for the mandate.

Though the NFL is mum about its specific requirements, forward-thinking stadiums are already investing in network upgrades. Chicago's Soldier Field's neutral host DAS system was recently upgraded in partnership with AT&T and Boingo Wireless Inc. , doubling network capacity, and with enough DAS equipment to serve a town of 88,000.

The network was upgraded in time to support massive data traffic during an emergency weather evacuation in November, and to serve an increasingly mobile audience: Our data shows that 95% of sessions on the stadium WiFi network were via mobile, and that sessions are up 80% year-over-year. Also, the San Francisco 49ers are said to be planning a stadium network at their new Levi's Stadium that will cover more than 68,000 spectators, with no lag time in uploads and downloads.

While many NFL and big league stadiums are upgrading to high-powered DAS and WiFi systems, today's university stadiums and campuses are in need of major league solutions. These locations serve the highly connected young adult population, and some of their fan bases are as large and rabid as major sports franchises (and as a USC Trojan alum, I speak from experience).

Though they don't have an NFL-like mandate, university stadiums may be the next to go "pro" with their wireless to meet the following challenges:

Fan retention
College students are one of today's most connected groups. A recent study from Educause found that more than 76% own a smartphone, and more than 58% own more than three Internet-connected devices. If their constant connectivity comes to a screeching halt when they get near the football stadium, they might just watch the game on their HDTVs from their dorms. In 2013, attendance at college football games was down for major conferences, including the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference, among others. The reason? The Bleacher Report posits that lack of connectivity might be a leading cause.

Funding network upgrades
Mobile technologies have ushered in a whole new era of BYOD on campuses, taxing existing networks and tapping IT budgets developed before the dawn of the iPhone era. Universities today are struggling to handle the capacity demands of students, and are working fast to upgrade their networks quickly to ensure that students and faculty can connect.

Installing a neutral host DAS network on campus and in stadiums can help offset the costs of network upgrades. Carriers can help fund DAS installations and upgrades, or pay "rent" on systems at major campuses or major teams' home fields. Revenue share from DAS networks can help bolster campus IT budgets and enable further investment in campus infrastructure.

Building for the future
Universities were blindsided by BYOD. To avoid the capacity crunch that many are currently experiencing, forward-thinking university IT executives are looking to build networks that can grow and shift with the rapid changes in mobile usage.

Building complimentary DAS and WiFi networks helps take advantage of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum, and provides a "fail safe" capability in times of peak usage. The symbiotic relationship between the networks enable a pressure release valve on campus -- the DAS network can relieve strain on the WiFi network, and vice versa. The coming Next Generation Hotspot protocols will allow on-campus mobile users to transition seamlessly between WiFi and cellular without user intervention -- wherever a user goes, their connection just works. (See WiFi Passpoint: Ready for Prime Time.)

Monetizing mobile
Universities will soon learn from the Barclays Centers and AT&T Parks of the world, and they'll want to start reaching their fans on the last piece of unbranded real estate in the ball park -- the mobile phones in their palms or pockets. Deploying a high-density WiFi network alongside a DAS in a stadium can enable fan mobile use, like social networking and video streaming, along with delivery of WiFi sponsorships and targeted brand messages. Through WiFi-enabled, location-based services, a stadium may even enable concessions orders right from the stands. Teams can reach fans through push notifications in custom apps, or solicit feedback from patrons via surveys.

It's eight months until the college football season starts again, and season predictions are already starting. Here's mine: Major university IT departments will be conducting "training camps" of their own to whip their networks into shape and get connected fans in the stands come fall 2014.

— Doug Lodder, Vice President of Business Development, Boingo Wireless Inc.

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
SachinEE
50%
50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/24/2014 | 1:24:08 PM
Re : Must Haves for the Big Game? DAS & WiFi
Using unlicensed spectrum is a good way for handling mass data at peak hours; however this also means there is a less aim for security and sensitive data might be misused.  Also, using the self adjusting mobile networks is a nice idea, and configuration is possible. 
pzernik
50%
50%
pzernik,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/3/2014 | 9:35:52 PM
Re: NFLs WiFi and cellular connectivity standards
What do the experts think about Hotspot 2.0  (802.11u)?  Is there finally a synergy between WiFi and Cellular?
dmlodder
50%
50%
dmlodder,
User Rank: Blogger
2/3/2014 | 3:24:41 PM
Re: NFLs WiFi and cellular connectivity standards
Sarah - From what I can gather, the network was up for the challenge.  There were far more tweets complimenting the guest Wi-Fi network than disparaging it (I favorited and retweeted some @dmlodder).  AT&T released an article about consumption from their customers yesterday versus prior years but it does not delineate between DAS and Wi-Fi consumption.   (http://www.attinnovationspace.com/innovation/story/a7793978). 

 
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
2/3/2014 | 2:36:50 PM
Re: NFLs WiFi and cellular connectivity standards
Good questions, pzernik. Brazil's policies were brought up on last week's feature on WiFi in stadiums too: http://www.lightreading.com/mobile/small-cells/carrier-wifis-not-winning-in-sports-arenas/d/d-id/707507
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
2/3/2014 | 2:34:24 PM
Re: NFLs WiFi and cellular connectivity standards
Thanks for the great post, Doug! Good follow on to what we talked about last week. Any indication of how WiFi performed at the Super Bowl last night? The WiFi reports I've seen have been dominated by the fact that the statium's internal WiFi log in credentials were accidentially broadcast on national TV! http://www.zdnet.com/super-bowl-wi-fi-password-credentials-broadcast-in-pre-game-security-gaffe-7000025865/
dmlodder
50%
50%
dmlodder,
User Rank: Blogger
2/2/2014 | 5:07:08 PM
Re: NFLs WiFi and cellular connectivity standards
pzernik - I do not have a copy of the NFL's WiFi and Cellular standards that I can share.  Sorry.  The strategies employed by professional sports teams vary.  Most understand the need for a robust wireless network, but struggle to identify how to pay for it.  In some cases, where existing sponsorships exist, the carriers will pay for the network.  In most cases, the carriers are not willing to pay for a WiFi network.  This leads to many instances where to the true synergies of deploying a combined cellular/WiFi network are not achieved.  
pzernik
50%
50%
pzernik,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/2/2014 | 4:52:01 PM
NFLs WiFi and cellular connectivity standards
Hi Doug.  Do you have a link to the NFLs WiFi and cellular connectivity standards?  Also, what are other sports franchises doing for their fans/stadiums?  Are they even footing any of the install costs or do they expect the carriers to pay for these very high cost systems?
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Column
There are three important questions service providers need to address for in-market and out-of-market expansion.
Cablevision's new Freewheel WiFi service will offer 'unlimited data, talk and text' plus access to Cablevision hotspots for a smallish monthly fee, but is hotspot access worth the price?
Space Division Multiplexing (SDM) technologies could help relieve future bottlenecks in communications networks.
Small cells with advanced C-RAN capabilities create a new opportunity to meet wireless demand more economically and deliver the best possible user experience to subscribers.
To get real customer visibility and to consistently deliver a higher quality experience, MNOs must have access to real-time location awareness.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Virtual CPE

1|27|15   |   01:38   |   (4) comments


As NFV strategies evolve from tests and trials to production telco networks, expect to hear a lot about virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) rollouts during 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
Google Continues Gigabit Expansion
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/27/2015
Cablevision's New WiFi Try – Freewheeling Enough?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 1/26/2015
Overture Builds on NFV Foundation
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/27/2015
LightSpeed Looks to Plug the Gigabit Gap
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/23/2015
Parks Predicts HBO OTT Success
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 1/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Weekly Executive Interview
Join us live for Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, Universal, Intel and Microsoft, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he has to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.