Insight on the reason for extreme Wi-Fi Upgrade for NFL Fans by Gillette Stadium.
The New England Patriots have been one of the most storied American Football franchises, if not in the entire sports fraternity. The team began play in Gillette Stadium in 2002 elating Pats fans in Massachusetts and worldwide. Gillette Stadium in Foxboro is now the cozy home to the tech-savvy team and their 2nd generation Wi-Fi system. They were the first NFL team to install Wi-Fi to meet the demands of modern day business and the digital needs of fans, as well as the first to provide a website. Together with Yinzcam, they also offer a team app for people heading to the game or watching from home. Back in 2012, the Patriots launched the league’s first stadium network with technology partner Enterasys Networks, later known as Extreme Networks, after their $180 million company purchase. The network infrastructure upgrade was an instant improvement for fans because WiFi enhances the fan experience and team organizations capabilities by increasing engagement, enabling digital marketing campaigns and helping to generate new revenue. The Sports Techie community blog has watched the industry adapt to the networking needs of teams, constituents and sponsors with sports tech initiatives. The Pats are 7.5 point favorites going into their Super Bowl XLIX rematch this coming Sunday game against the Seattle Seahawks. Wi-Fi updated NFL betting odds provided by the internet of things (IoT) are now available both in-stadium and online, before, during and after gameday.
The Reason for the Upgrade
The time was right for the upgrade. According Fred Kirsch, publisher & vice president of content at Kraft Sports Productions, as told to Bob Wallace, writer of the Patriots.com ‘Tackling Tech’ series, “Three things converged: fan usage of their phones at games was on the rise, the technology evolved (802.11 ac Wave 2), and the new phones on the market improved to the point that they could support the first two.”
The use of mobile phones and devices during live games was on the rise. In addition to that, the existing WiFi network was becoming less useful by the day, since there was significant mobile technological advancement since the former Wi-Fi version network had been installed. The new wireless version 802.110 ac Wave 2 provided Wi-Fi Alliance approved specs.
Impact on the Fans
Smartphone and tablet connectivity on the fast Wi-Fi network bandwidth improved communications tremendously. It enabled fans to have real-time video chats without constant buffering and other connectivity issues. Moreover, accessing social media platforms, texting, sharing photos of games was made much easier to the fans advantage. That is not all; it was expected that there were other features which would be incorporated into the network to make the game replays even much faster.
“Teams want a share of the experience that comes with photo uploads and video sharing, along with opportunities for game day apps, video services and fantasy football usage,” said John Brams, Director of Sports and Entertainment for Extreme Networks.
The stadium seats 66,829 fans and estimation determined that an additional 300% access points were needed. In addition to that 30-mile copper cables, having a 10-gigabyte internet would be required. John Burke, Director – Stadium Architect for Sports & Entertainment at Extreme, stated this was not going to be easy. However, the management was up to the task. Their mission was to engage the fans, by getting them all excited.
Installing the next generation Wi-Fi was a proactive decision made by the managerial team. The results are vast when compared to the initial first generation coverage. Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology and additional access points mounted at higher points enabled embedded tech, location-based application analytics, better performance of technologies, and more secure wireless transmissions. In addition to that, the number of seats per access point was increased from 400 to 90, creating even greater connectivity.
What this means for Pats and opposing team fans is it, “may deliver an increase of up to 20 percent more packet processing power and up to a 50 percent increase in overall throughput than previous generations,” shared Extreme, meeting high-density BYOD needs.
Working on the Project
This transition was no easy task. Over the course of months, cables, intermediate distribution frames, and a solid power foundation were installed. To make the project successful, it was necessary for some access points to be installed under chairs. A project management team was established to ensure the success of the complex tech project.
Testing and Final Take Off of the Project
Due to the expansive size of the stadium, drones fitted with radio devices were used to test the Wi-Fi signal at different points. Once satisfied with the results, it was officially launched. Fitting the Wi-Fi has proved to be a valuable asset in the stadium. It is no longer the monotonous place people used to know, especially during dead-time. Shows and concerts are being held at the advanced technology venue on a regular basis. In addition to that, the Wi-Fi network is an expectation all fans can enjoy together.
Sports Techie, sport fans love to connect to stadium Wi-Fi and save phone data while using the blazing fast speeds to share selfies, as well as check scores, watch highlights and see fantasy football updates, along with knowing the latest NFL betting odds. Ticket holders use the network to operate clever apps designed for gamification, optimized parking, purchase the delivery of concession to their seats,and find the smallest restroom line.
Gillette Stadium is the place to make it all so and it is certainly on the forefront of connected stadium optimization and the enhanced fan experience.
Be sure to tune into the NBC Sports Sunday Night Football broadcast on your TV, connected devices, and in person as as mobile second screen if you are fortunate enough to be in attendance as several of my fellow 12s friends from Seattle will be.
This weekend’s SNF game is a possible Super Bowl LI preview matchup between the Patriots and Seahawks that is sure to be a lot closer than the current 7.5 point spread, you can bet your dedicated 99.99% reliable Wi-Fi connection on that.
See y’all later in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world.
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