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
Open is possible, definable and important, because an environment of freedom is a superior construct.
Every component of the smart home ecosystem is changing, creating new opportunities – and challenges – for service providers.
Don't let new technologies and whizz-bang gadgets keep you from respecting those speaking to you and giving them the full attention they deserve.
Defining SDN realistically will help carriers cut through the hype, says Sunil Khandekar, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent's Nuage Networks.
They can go from also-rans to leaders -- if they don't mess up.
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Inaugural Optical Innovation Forum in Nice

9|2|14   |     |   (0) comments


More than 170 attendees from network operators, service providers, analyst firms, and component companies from around the world convened in Nice in June for the inaugural Optical Innovation Forum, co-produced by Huawei and Light Reading.
Wagner’s Ring
Data Centers Drive Telcos Into the Future

8|28|14   |   2:20   |   (2) comments


Data centers are at the heart of key trends driving telecom -- network virtualization, the drive for increased agility, and the need to compete with OTT providers.
LRTV Custom TV
Why SPs Should Consider Cisco's EPN

8|27|14   |   5:40   |   (0) comments


Sultan Dawood from Cisco discusses Cisco's EPN, which enables SPs to build agile and programmable networks delivering new network virtualized services using Cisco's Evolved Services Platform (ESP).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Showcase @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   2.56   |   (0) comments


SoftCOM is Huawei's framework for telecom business and network transformation. Haofei Liu, Solution Marketing Manager, Carrier Business Group, Huawei, showcases Huawei's SoftCOM architecture in this video.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of Integrated Solutions on SoftCOM & NFV Monetization

8|26|14   |   4.43   |   (0) comments


Libin Dai, Director of Integrated Solutions, Carrier Business Group, discusses Huawei's SoftCOM and NFV monetization. Huawei believes that NFV monetization should be service-driven rather than network-driven, and that operators should have network transformation, service transformation and a compatible and collaborative ecosystem in place in order to deploy NFV.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of US NFV Lab on CloudEdge & the Future of NFV

8|26|14   |   4.06   |   (0) comments


Sean Chen, Director of US NFV Lab at Huawei, discusses Huawei's new approach to NFV in open collaboration. Huawei believes that through Proof of Concept tests, it could help operators learn and communicate with the industry more effectively. Sean believes that successful implementation of NFV should have its values reaching to end users and discusses how Huawei's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Highlights @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   3.34   |   (0) comments


At the Big Telecom Event in Chicago Huawei showcases its high-level strategy, the SoftCOM architecture, which helps operators reduce the cost of ownership of their network infrastructure and generate additional revenue in the ICT service environment. Huawei showcases over 30 pilot programs from across the globe, focusing on the industry-leading commercial ...
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX – Live from the Show

8|21|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


An overview of VeEX Test and Measurement solutions including TX300S multi-service test set with VeExpress cloud-based management system, UX400 universal modular platform supporting 100G testing, and the redesigned RXT modular platform.
LRTV Custom TV
Transitioning CE 2.0 Networks Into the SDN & NFV Era With Telco Systems

8|19|14   |   5:19   |   (0) comments


Telco Systems' Ariel Efrati (CEO) and Moshe Shimon (VP of Product Management) discuss virtualization and how the company's new Open Metro Edge solution utilizes the SDN and NFV concepts to accelerate and orchestrate service delivery through its innovative product portfolio and software applications.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Myths: Is NFV Still Several Years Away?

8|11|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


Some say that NFV (network functions virtualization) is still several years away from being implemented on mobile operator networks. This isn't the case. Operators can get started on their paths to NFV now, as this short video from Skyfire shows.
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Hot Topics
Nokia's Maps Land on Samsung Devices
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 8/29/2014
Now Google Planning Drones-to-Go
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/29/2014
Music to My Mobile
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 8/28/2014
Be Open to the Freedom of Openness
Kelly Herrell, 8/29/2014
Netflix to FCC: Kill Comcast-TWC Deal
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 8/28/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed