Each year we look forward to seeing wireless data usage shatter previous records during the Super Bowl in early February. Thanks to COVID-19 and limited in-person attendance for events and the Big Game, wireless data usage likely didn’t hit the highs that it might have during normal years. But data usage was impressive, demonstrating that wireless networks are important and in demand even during pandemic-related disruptions.
Annually one of the most attended and most watched events of the year, the Super Bowl had limited in-person capacity this year at just 22,000 fans, about 7,500 of which were health care and front-line workers who were invited as honored guests. While events were scaled back this year, the nation’s wireless carriers pushed forward with their substantial upgrades to the stadium and surrounding areas. As wireless networks have proven to be crucial for allowing work and education to continue and people to stay connected during the past year, these permanent upgrades will make a difference for the people who live in the Tampa area when the excitement of the Big Game is over.
Following are Super Bowl highlights:
AT&T customers used about 2.7 times more data during the game than they did last year, the company said. According to AT&T, overall data usage was 10.7 TB in Tampa, up slightly from 10.2 TB used in 2020 when the Super Bowl was played in Miami. That is equivalent to 1,700 hours of streaming 4K video, 890,000 hours of online gaming and 2.7 million hours of streaming music.
Customers in and around the stadium were busiest on their phones during the second quarter, when they used 1,250 GB of data, said AT&T.
To prepare for the game, AT&T said it spent $75 million upgrading its wireless network sites across the area, installed more than 2 dozen mmWave sites inside the stadium and in parking lots, installed 5G+ sites at Tampa International Airport, installed dozens of 5G+ sites in the Channel District & Riverfront areas of Tampa, and brought in COLTs and COWs at more than 30 facilities to enhance coverage.
According to Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s President of Technology, despite the dramatic reduction in Super Bowl activities and fans in town for the Big Game, the carrier still made permanent network upgrades throughout the Tampa Bay area.
“The majority of Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater were already covered with far-reaching 5G coverage,” Ray said in a blog. “We then deployed super-fast Ultra Capacity 5G in and around Tampa Bay and in surrounding areas like St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Dade City. At Raymond James Stadium, we deployed the full layer cake of 5G (low-band Extended Range, Ultra Capacity mid-band and Ultra Capacity mmWave) inside.”
Ray said T-Mobile had 40 percent more traffic nationwide than during last year’s Super Bowl.
— Neville (@NevilleRay) February 9, 2021
Verizon said it invested more than $80 million and expanded permanent 5G deployments in Tampa and at Raymond James Stadium. That included 70 miles of high-speed fiber, an upgraded distributed antenna system (DAS) and 281 small cell antennas.
“These permanent network enhancements will benefit Tampa residents and visitors for years to come,” the company said in a press release detailing its Super Bowl upgrades and offerings. The company also launched immersive viewing apps for fans in the stadium and at home and produced a Super Bowl after-party benefiting small businesses.
Clocking in high speeds in the upper deck! #5GBuiltRight
— Verizon (@Verizon) February 8, 2021
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