Each year, wireless networks are put to the test during the Super Bowl and the week leading up to the Big Game, as thousands of fans descend upon the host city for various events. To accommodate the influx of fans, networks covering the stadium and event venues receive upgrades with the latest and greatest wireless technology and equipment to ensure a flawless experience. In addition, wireless networks covering airports, hotels, restaurants and public areas in the host city also are upgraded to ensure visitors and residents alike enjoy high-quality coverage and capacity.
These upgrades are crucial as fans have consistently broken wireless usage records each year. Last year, AT&T reported that its customers at the Big Game used more than 1.5 Terabytes of wireless data in and around the stadium – the equivalent of 32 million selfies. T-Mobile said its customers used 138% more data than the year before. Time will tell if Super Bowl LIV will be another record breaker for wireless, but the nation’s wireless carriers have been working for up to two years to make sure they are ready.
The network infrastructure investments carriers make to prepare for the Super Bowl have long-lasting impacts for host cities, including increased coverage and capacity and access to the latest technology that can be leveraged for a variety of civic and citizen benefits well into the future. For more, see how T-Mobile’s network upgrades in Super Bowl LII have created a faster network and smarter city in Minneapolis.
This year is no different. The San Francisco 49ers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The nation’s wireless carriers have been preparing their networks for the Big Game, which will showcase 5G for the first time.
AT&T said it has invested more than $85 million to improve wireless capacity and coverage not only for fans at the Super Bowl but also for emergency personnel on its FirstNet network. AT&T’s preparations include both permanent and temporary upgrades in the stadium and city. These include an upgraded in-stadium distributed antenna system (DAS) and network enhancements such as 5G+ and Band 14 spectrum that the provider said will increase LTE capacity by 300%. Enhancements outside the stadium include new DAS equipment at 29 locations throughout the Miami area and six Cell on Wheels (COWs) to handle spikes in wireless network demand.
“When fans head to Miami to cheer on their team, we want to keep them connected to share and engage with their favorite experiences,” said Chris Sambar, EVP, Technology Operations at AT&T. “The investments we’ve made in our network will help them connect faster and easier than before.”
For public safety specifically, AT&T ensured its Band 14 network is ready to go for first responders and installed metro cells at local and federal public-safety agency centers. Three FirstNet Satellite Cell on Light Trucks (SatCOLTs) will be placed outside the stadium for redundancy and additional coverage if needed.
Verizon reported it spent more than $80 million to enhance its networks for Super Bowl LIV, including laying more than 230 miles of fiber throughout Miami, adding existing capacity to over 280 existing cell sites, installing 5G nodes to support NFL Super Bowl venues and events, installing close to 30 in-building solutions to enhance performance around the city (i.e. popular hotels and shopping centers), installing 5G at both the Miami and Fort Lauderdale Airports and more. The company noted these enhancements are permanent and will benefit residents and visitors for years to come.
To ensure that public-safety officials and first responders have the tools and resources they need at all times, Verizon has established a Command Center filled with a special team of more than 100 technicians and engineers monitoring and managing everywhere the Verizon network touches throughout Miami and in and around the stadium. The provider also will have members of its staff placed at Florida’s Emergency Operations Center to provide technology support during the game and other events.
Verizon, which has partnered with the National Football League, plans to showcase 5G applications and capabilities at the game.
T-Mobile is focusing on millimeter wave low-band 5G inside the stadium as well as other network enhancements in areas where 150,000 visitors are expected to spend most of their time, including Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Beach Convention Center, Bayfront Park, Miami Beach and Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports. The company said it doubled LTE capacity at Hard Rock Stadium so customers can share big moments from the big game, and built a new DAS and deployed small cells throughout the city for improved indoor capacity at key venues. T- Mobile said in addition to launching broad 5G coverage last month, it has deployed millimeter wave 5G for customers with capable smartphones in parts of Miami, including nearly all of Bayfront Park and at Hard Rock Stadium in the lower bowl, parking lot and main entrances.
“All these network upgrades mean T-Mobile customers in and around the city can snap, share and stream from the big game with great coverage and serious speed,” said Neville Ray, President of Technology at T-Mobile.