June 25, 2017

New Report: Carolina Panthers build new Wi-Fi and DAS; Mercedes-Benz Stadium update, and more!

Q3thumbMobile Sports Report is pleased to announce the Q3 issue of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series, the ONLY in-depth publication created specifically for the stadium technology professional and the stadium technology marketplace.

In addition to our historical in-depth profiles of successful stadium technology deployments, our Q3 issue for 2016 has additional news and analysis, including a look at Wi-Fi analytics at the Mall of America, and a story about how the Cleveland Browns found $1 million in ROI using new analytics software from YinzCam. Download your FREE copy today!

Inside the report our editorial coverage also includes:

— Bank of America Stadium profile: An in-depth look at the Carolina Panthers’ decision to bring new Wi-Fi and DAS networks in-house;
— Mercedes-Benz Stadium profile: An early look at the technology being built into the new home of the Atlanta Falcons, with an emphasis on fiber;
— T-Mobile Arena photo essay: A first look at the newest venue on the famed Las Vegas Strip;
— Avaya Stadium profile: How the stadium’s Wi-Fi network became the star of the MLS All-Star game.

We’d like to take a quick moment to thank our sponsors, which for this issue include Mobilitie, Crown Castle, SOLiD, CommScope, JMA Wireless, Corning, Samsung Business, Xirrus, Huber+Suhner, ExteNet Systems, DAS Group Professionals and Boingo Wireless. Their generous sponsorship makes it possible for us to offer this content free of charge to our readers. We’d also like to thank you for your interest and support.

Wi-Fi a winner at Avaya Stadium’s MLS All-Star game

Just before game time at Avaya Stadium for the 2016 MLS All Star game. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

Just before game time at Avaya Stadium for the 2016 MLS All Star game. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

On the pitch it was the Arsenal lads emerging victorious over by a 2-1 score over the Major League Soccer All-Stars, but in the stands it was Avaya Stadium’s Wi-Fi network that won the day at the 2016 MLS All-Star game Thursday in San Jose, Calif.

Unlike a year ago at the Avaya Stadium opening, when we found the fan-facing Wi-Fi a bit lacking, the Wi-Fi network performed at top speeds for almost all of our tests during an MSR “walkaround” before and during the MLS All-Star game. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about the cellular network performance in and around Avaya Stadium, with many signals so weak on both the AT&T and Verizon Wireless networks that in most places we couldn’t conduct a speed test.

Leaving behind the question as to why there hasn’t been a DAS installed yet at Avaya Stadium, it was great to see the Wi-Fi network consistently hit download and upload speeds in the mid- to high-20+ Mbps range in just about every spot of the U-shaped soccer-centric arena. In the main seating areas, in the concourses below the stands as well as around the huge open-air bar there was solid connectivity, fueled by what looked like a lot more APs than we saw during vists to the venue last year.

While some of the AP installs looked like last-minute fixes (we saw several instances where paper binder clips were used in Phil Mickelson fashion to secure wiring to metal beams) there was certainly a noticeable amount of extra equipment, especially on the stanchions that loom out over the seating area. There, it seemed like every beam or at least every other beam had three sets of paired APs, which no doubt helped produce a speed test of 28.93/27.44 we took in the middle of the seating area (of section 120, in the closed end zone). Last year, it was a challenge to get a good reading in the middle of the seats.

The top speed test we got Thursday night was outside a sausage stand at one corner of the open end zone, where the meter hit 44.00/33.49 just before game time. We were also impressed by the consistent coverage at the huge outdoor bar in the open end zone, helped no doubt by APs on the top of the bar roof on each end, and three APs per side above the bar server areas.

Somewhat ironically the only place we couldn’t get a Wi-Fi signal was in our assigned “press box” seat, actually the upper back corner in the southwest part of the stadium. While we are guessing the problem may have been due to press-laptop overload (or some APs missing from what looked like normal install points), we noticed that by walking one section away from the press section we were able to reconnect with the regular stadium Wi-Fi network at a reading of 18.27/20.38.

One of the many 'doubled' AP installs we saw

One of the many ‘doubled’ AP installs we saw

Most of the 18,000+ fans in the sellout crowd seemed to have no issues connecting to the Internet, as we saw fans heads-down on their devices in all parts of the venue. We did talk to one fan at halftime who said the lack of cellular connectivity outside the main gate kept him from being able to call up his digital tickets on his phone.

“But once I got inside I connected to Wi-Fi and everything was fine,” he said.

On the upper deck walkways we did finally get a fairly strong AT&T 4G LTE signal — 8.23/8.93 — which may have been due to a clear line of sight to the “eyeball” antenna we saw deployed in the VIP parking lot. And while we could make calls and send texts on our Verizon phone 4G LTE connection, trying to load a web page took so long we gave up. Moral of the story is for Avaya Stadium fans: Make sure you hit the GOQUAKES SSID as soon as you’re near the stadium!

Enjoy the rest of our photos from our quick trip to San Jose, and know that while beers may cost $12.50 and shots of Jameson’s may set you back $12 each, at this year’s All-Star game all the Arsenal cheers and songs you ever wanted to hear were free of charge.

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APs like this ringed the lower concourse wall areas

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When the players walk through the concourse to take the pitch, it’s snapshot city

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At the huge end zone bar, it was SRO all day long

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AP visible in middle of roof section of bar

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Pictures and selfies were the order of the day

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The famed sausage stand AP with the 44 down reading. The bratwurst was good, too

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The Avaya Stadium social media wall

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Staying connected in the stands

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Nice view from the upper deck

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I think if I stuck around this group for one more beer I could have learned at least three Arsenal songs

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AT&T eyeball antenna sighting in the VIP parking lot

Former co-CEO files counterclaims against Sporting Innovations, denies ‘conspiracy’

Asim Pasha

Asim Pasha

The second shoe has dropped in the lawsuit filed by Kansas City’s Sporting Innovations against its former co-CEO Asim Pasha, with Pasha filing counterclaims denying the company’s charges against him while also alleging that he was denied promised ownership stakes in the company for providing the technology behind its stadium-application business.

In case you missed the first episode, that came in June when Sporting Innovations fired its former co-CEO, alleging basically that he used company resources, trade secrets and relationships in a plot to build a competing entity. In his first response to those claims, Pasha denied the company’s allegations and replied with some legal fire of his own, claiming basically that Sporting Innovations’ other co-CEO, Robb Heineman, was jealous of Pasha’s public recognition for Sporting Innovations’ stadium app work, and refused to provide legal documents that would confirm Pasha’s promised ownership stake in the company.

While the Sporting Innovations lawsuit sought $75,000 in retribution from Pasha, Pasha’s counterclaims want his ownership stake — which is either 20 percent or more — confirmed, while having himself cleared of all the conspiracy charges, which his legal filing claims were trumped up mainly to try to get him to give up his ownership stake in the company and a key patent. Pasha’s filing also seeks “actual and punitive damages” for harm caused to Pasha and his son Zain by the lawsuit.

As Pasha’s filing claims:

Sporting Innovations’ use of legal process is not for the purpose of recovering on the claims stated in the Complaint, but for the illegal, improper and perverted purpose of intimidating and coercing Asim into surrendering his 20% interest in Sporting Innovations, along with his interest in U.S. Patent Application No. 13/789,372.

The next planned step in the proceedings, according to Pasha’s lawyers, is a hearing scheduled for Sept. 2, to talk about the schedule for the case going forward. Sporting Innovations refused to comment on the case. The lawsuit and the counterclaims have been filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Western District.

Will fallout cripple Sporting Innovations?

There’s lots of conflicting drama in the two legal sides of this case, and eventually we are guessing a judge or jury will hear all the details. As we said before, we’re not lawyers, but it seems from reading through Pasha’s filings that he has documented answers to refute many of the company’s original claims, including what looks like a personal note from Heineman under which the claimed intent was to transfer more of an ownership stake to Pasha.

However the case ends up, what seems to be clear is that Sporting Innovations is going to have a tough time drumming up new business in the meantime. Sporting Innovations was a business that grew out of technology developments for the Sporting KC professional soccer team and its home stadium, which was one of the first to have full fan-facing Wi-Fi and a specialized fan app. But the company’s vision to provide similar technology to other teams and stadiums may have hit a roadblock with the legal entanglements.

As we already reported, the company’s deal to provide a stadium app for the Pac-12 is dead, and one of the other clients still highlighted on the Sporting Innovations website, the Tampa Bay Lightning, said they are currently moving to a different app platform after using Sporting Innovations technology for their app through last season.

Futbol Fans like Wi-Fi: Barcelona vs. ManU match at Levi’s Stadium uses 2.62 TB

ManU and Barca at Levi's Stadium. All photos: Levi's Stadium.

ManU and Barca at Levi’s Stadium. All photos: Levi’s Stadium.

It was futbol, not football, that drew 68,416 fans to Levi’s Stadium July 25 for a match between European powerhouses FC Barcelona and Manchester United, a game that finished in a 3-1 ManU victory and with 2.62 terabytes of Wi-Fi data used, according to the Levi’s Stadium networking crew.

With fans arriving early for the 1 p.m. start the Wi-Fi measurements were taken over 7 hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to Roger Hacker, senior manager, corporate communications for the San Francisco 49ers, who own and operate Levi’s Stadium. During that period there were 25,643 unique users of the stadium’s Wi-Fi network, with the maximum number of concurrent users of 18,322 taking place five minutes after the game’s start.

Action from the pitch!

Action from the pitch!

The Wi-Fi peak usage bandwidth of 2.966 Gbps was reached five minutes later, no doubt as the sellout crowd started sending the pictures and videos they took of the start of the match. The average Wi-Fi bandwidth used during the 7 measured hours of the event was 1.584 Gbps, according to the Niners.

Though the Wi-Fi usage didn’t come close to the stadium record mark of 4.5 TB set at WrestleMania 31 in March, or even the high-water Wi-Fi mark for football set on Sept. 14 at last year’s regular season home opener against the Chicago Bears, it did eclipse some football Wi-Fi totals near the end of last season, showing that soccer fans will find and use Wi-Fi even though their sport has much less non-active time than American football.

One event on the Levi’s Stadium calendar that may dwarf even WrestleMania for Wi-Fi usage is the upcoming Taylor Swift concerts Aug. 14 and 15; it will be interesting to see how Taylor Swift fans use the network, and if they can surpass WWE fans even though it looks like the stadium will have fewer available seats because of the concert stage setup.

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Ruckus Wireless scores Wi-Fi deployment deal at UK soccer stadium

Crane helps with Wi-Fi install at the AMEX stadium. Credit all photos: Ruckus Wireless

Crane helps with Wi-Fi install at the AMEX stadium. Credit all photos: Ruckus Wireless

Ruckus Wireless scored a Wi-Fi gear deployment deal at the 35,000-seat American Express Community Stadium in Falmer, Brighton, East Sussex, England (UK), as part of a new fan-facing network being deployed by service provider The Cloud.

According to Ruckus, it has supplied approximately 100 access points that were deployed on the roof structures at “The AMEX” to bring Wi-Fi connectivity to the fans of the Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, the Seagulls. The Cloud used Ruckus ZoneFlex outdoor APs in its design, and is also using two Ruckus ZoneDirector 5000 controllers for management, as well as the Ruckus SmartCell Insight analytics platform, according to Ruckus.

At a recent match, Ruckus claimed the network saw more than 13,000 devices connected to the Wi-Fi network concurrently. In a press release, a team executive said having free Wi-Fi was a key feature wanted by fans:

“Our fans want to get online — everything from catching up on scores to uploading videos from the stands. The ability to get online has become a big part of match day,” said Paul Barber, CEO at Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club. “For us, mobile is a great way of bringing the fans closer to the action and there’s an opportunity to expand on that in the future with competitions, games or other interactive tools. Having fast, free Internet across the ground is key to engaging with fans.”

Close-up of Wi-Fi APs

Close-up of Wi-Fi APs

Avaya Stadium fans used 256 GB of Wi-Fi during Earthquakes’ MLS home opener

Connecting to Wi-Fi was easy

Connecting to Wi-Fi was easy

Fans at the San Jose Earthquakes’ MLS home opener at the brand-new Avaya Stadium used 256 gigabytes of data on the venue’s Wi-Fi network, according to statistics provided by Avaya, which also runs the wireless network in its new namesake stadium.

With a sellout crowd of 18,000 on hand to jam the new stadium, almost 25 percent of the attendees logged on to the Wi-Fi network, with a total of 4,217 unique connections during the March 22 game, Avaya representatives said. The peak number of simultaneous connections during the 2-1 Earthquakes victory over the Chicago Fire was 2,735, Avaya said, with an average connection number of 1,247 fans on the Wi-Fi network during the game.

Our unofficial testing of the Wi-Fi network during the game found some spots where connectivity was challenged, but with 256 GB over a few hours the 170+ Wi-Fi access points appeared to have done their job. We expect connectivity at Avaya Stadium to improve when Mobilitie finishes deploying its neutral-host DAS in the stadium, which currently does not have any enhanced cellular connectivity.