That’s a Lot of Selfies: Wireless Networks Support Dozens of Terabytes of Data During Super Bowl LIV

Wireless carriers expect traffic to break records every year during the biggest event in U.S. sports. That’s why they invest many months and millions of dollars into making sure the networks in the host stadium and city are in tip-top shape for the Super Bowl.

As expected, carriers are reporting record-breaking data traffic on their networks once again this year.

Verizon Wireless, which showcased fan-focused 5G capabilities during the Big Game, reported its customers used 21.5 terabytes of data in and around the stadium – enough data to stream a feature-length movie more than 6,000 times. That was up from 20.5 TB in 2019, 18.8 TB in 2018 and 11 TB in 2017. Interestingly, Hard Rock Stadium has a smaller capacity than host stadiums in recent years, which means the record data traffic this year was generated by fewer attendees.

The largest spikes of data usage on Verizon’s network happened during kickoff and the halftime show and were driven by social media usage and saving photos and videos to the cloud, Verizon said.

AT&T said its customers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami used more than 10.2 Terabytes of data, the equivalent of taking more than 28 million selfies from the stands or streaming high-definition video for 55 days straight. The most-shared moment of the game was the half time show, when 370 gigabytes of data crossed its network within 15 minutes. The fourth quarter also produced highly shareable moments for fans at the game. AT&T customers used 1.2 TB of data in the final minutes of Super Bowl LIV.

Within a 2-mile radius of the stadium on game day, AT&T customers in the area used more than 14.5 TB of data, the equivalent of streaming all the halftime show songs on repeat for more than 4,350 hours (181 days!), the carrier said. Throughout the entire week leading up to and including the Big Game, fans used more than 172 TB of mobile data, the equivalent of 491 million social media posts with photos.

AT&T said data traffic during the game was 444% greater than at a typical pro football game. For the 2019 season, data usage on AT&T’s networks at pro football stadiums totaled more than 434 TB.

According to Global Wireless Solutions Inc., which measured network performance during the game, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon all showed average 5G bandwidth of 100 MHz and all showed 5G mmWave beamforming with an average of 8-9 beams per cell.