Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Broken Record: Wireless Carriers Prepare for New Highs in Network Usage at Super Bowl, Again

Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host Super Bowl LIII Feb. 3, 2019, between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots.

Each year, the nation’s wireless service providers anticipate and prepare for record-breaking wireless usage during the Super Bowl and in surrounding venues. During last year’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis, Verizon customers used 18.8 TB of data in and around the stadium on game day, the equivalent of a single user binge watching HD video for 435 straight days.

AT&T reported that users on its networks within a 2-mile radius of the stadium used more than 21.7 TB of data on Super Bowl Sunday and nearly 50 TB of mobile data at game-related events during the week leading up to the game. T-Mobile said it saw a 78% increase in data usage among its customers during the Super Bowl compared with usage during the game the year before.

Will wireless usage break records again this year? We are about to find out. This year, football fans will converge on Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII, and carriers and venues alike have been preparing for months to provide fast and reliable wireless coverage to fans in town for the big game.

Among the unique features of Mercedes-Benz Stadium — which include a retractable roof made up of eight petals and a 63,000-square-foot video screen – is a massive amount of high-tech equipment designed to keep fans connected at all times. The two-year-old facility houses 4,000 miles of fiber-optic cable, and 1,800 wireless access points providing free Wi-Fi access to the more than 70,000 fans. In addition, a distributed antenna system provides cellular coverage throughout the facility, stadium General Manager Scott Jenkins told SB Nation.

T-Mobile permanently boosted its LTE capacity by up to 8 times at key locations in Atlanta, including Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, key hotels throughout the city, along transit routes, and at dozens of Super Bowl event venues like Cobb Galleria, Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia World Congress Center and State Farm Arena. T-Mobile also doubled LTE capacity at SunTrust Park and enhanced its network throughout Midtown, downtown and around the stadium and tailgate areas.

To enhance indoor coverage and speed at key venues throughout the city, T-Mobile deployed more than 300 small cells, 20 new distributed antenna systems and an outdoor C-RAN system in tailgating and event areas to improve network performance in high-traffic situations.

“We’ve made sure our customers will have an incredible mobile experience on game day, whether they’re watching from the stands or across the city,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer at T-Mobile. “And at the same time we’re making these permanent upgrades that will continue to serve Atlanta long beyond the Super Bowl, we’re also laying a foundation for 5G.”

T-Mobile’s Future of Wireless Truck will be parked at 302 Ted Turner Drive Northwest – just a short walk from Centennial Olympic Park – from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET Thursday, January 31 through Sunday, February 3. Packed full of real world demonstrations and hands-on interactive experiences, the Future of Wireless Truck brings technology like 5G and supercharged IoT to life.

AT&T upgraded its network in Atlanta and at Mercedes-Benz stadium, which it sponsors, in preparation for the game, to boost cellular coverage and capacity for both customers and public-safety users on its FirstNet service. The company said it invested more than $43 million in network upgrades in Atlanta, including upgrading its portion of the in-stadium DAS to provide 300% more LTE capacity through 1,500 antennas and 1,550 remote amplifiers.

Outside the stadium, AT&T made more than 3,000 network improvements in the metro-Atlanta area, including upgrading or installing new DAS systems at 30 additional locations, and launched hundreds of new small cell locations to traffic signals, street lights and poles, and buildings. The company has also deployed five Cell on Light Trucks (COLTs) to handle increased wireless network usage during the event.

For its public-safety users, the company has deployed Band 14 spectrum across the area, installed DAS at local and federal public-safety centers, and staged a FirstNet SatCOLT outside the stadium to provide redundancy and additional coverage for first responders.

“While fans in Atlanta cheer on their favorite team, we want to deliver a great network experience—whether customers are sharing their favorite moments on social media, making a call or checking email,” said Scott Mair, president, AT&T Operations. “Many of the network enhancements deployed for the Big Game are permanent and will continue to benefit customers and first responders long after the game ends. It’s just one of the ways we’re continuing to invest in our Atlanta network.”

Verizon Wireless said it installed nearly 30 new permanent cell sites, more than 150 new small cells and 190 small cell capacity enhancements throughout the Atlanta area. In addition, the company added capacity at 150 existing cell sites and installed about 50 in-building solutions to enhance performance at local hotels and shopping centers. Verizon tripled capacity at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport through a DAS and enhanced coverage on the airport’s tarmac through small cell deployments. More than 350 miles of new fiber support the company’s Atlanta area wireless networks.

To meet peaks in demand, Verizon has deployed Cell on Wheels and Notes on Wheels at event locations across the city and added two in-building capacity enhancement systems to support local law enforcement and first responders. Inside the stadium, Verizon added more than 110 capacity-adding sectors and deployed Matsing ball technology, which divides crowds into sectors that can be managed individually. Under-seat antennas will also boost capacity.

A special team of 100 network engineers will monitor and manage the network in real-time both from a command center and inside the stadium, and engineers equipped with special testing equipment will be walking the event throughout the week providing real-time data on network performance and coordinating optimization efforts with the command center team.

Verizon Wireless is hosting a 5G Experience Lab at Centennial Park in Atlanta, where it is offering virtual reality experiences and demonstrations of the future of 5G technology, as well presenting musical entertainment during Super Bowl LIVE.

“The big game is finally here and our Network team has been preparing Atlanta for this event for two years, boosting network performance and capacity at the stadium, hotels, shopping and dining areas, several areas throughout the city and a number of event locations,” said Andrea Caldini, Vice President of Network Engineering for Verizon, who noted the company invested $97 million in network enhancements in Atlanta. “Our teams have worked relentlessly to ensure Atlanta residents, visitors, and attendees of this year’s festivities will have a great wireless experience.  We expect a great game Sunday.  Whichever team comes out on top this weekend, at least we know Atlanta is winning this year!”

Boingo and SOLiD USA are showcasing their neutral-host DAS at State Farm Arena, which is keeping visitors connected during Super Bowl events including the Super Bowl Music Fest.

JMA Wireless was selected by HALO by Mobile RF, a wireless provider for the real estate sector, to deploy an in-building multicarrier, multiband distributed antenna system at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta – Midtown hotel and conference center. The JMA TEKO DAS provides mobile coverage throughout the 26-story, 500,000 square-foot facility, which is preparing for thousands of fans who will converge on Atlanta for the Super Bowl.

The system supports three mobile operators in the 700, 850, 1900, 2100, 2300 and 2500 MHz bands and is configured to offer 5G coverage when commercial deployments roll out this year, the company said.

“We are thrilled that HALO selected our TEKO DAS platform for this project,” said Todd Landry, Corporate Vice President of Product and Market Strategy at JMA Wireless. “Together, our teams bring unprecedented expertise in the hospitality market, ensuring the Crowne Plaza will provide the best in wireless coverage for its guests during the Super Bowl and beyond.”

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